Tuesday 23 January 2018

'It's a tense time' - Ruby Walsh desperate to avoid injury ahead of Cheltenham festival

Ruby Walsh. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Ruby Walsh. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Ruby Walsh admits the nerves are kicking in at Willie Mullins' yard as the Cheltenham Festival looms ever nearer.

With Mullins having already been forced to rule out luminaries like Faugheen and Annie Power from the big meeting, his stable jockey is taking nothing for granted.

But Walsh feels the Mullins team might well have turned a corner as preparations for the Festival reach a "vital" stage.

He told the Irish Examiner: "It has been a busy week, working horses for Cheltenham, and, touch-wood, things are going right thus far - for a change, this season.

"But, next week will be vital. You're tuning them up, and the last couple of bits of work and schooling sessions have to be done, and there's the ever-present potential for something to go wrong.

"We're lucky at the minute, though. It has been a funny season for the yard, but they seem to be in good order now.

"We've had stop-start campaigns with horses, and horses getting injured.

"The ball hasn't bounced in the way we've been used to it bouncing in the last couple of years, but I'd be very happy with the way they are at the moment.

"We still have a lot of work to do with the horses next week, and you don't need much to go wrong to miss out in Cheltenham.

"It's a tense time for every yard."

Walsh also expressed sympathy for injured jockey Barry Geraghty, who will miss Cheltenham due to injury.

JP McManus' retained jockey suffered a punctured lung and six broken ribs in a fall from Charli Parcs in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton last Saturday.

Walsh said: "I know exactly how he is feeling, and what he was thinking.

"You can imagine the physical pain he must have been in last Saturday - six broken ribs, a collapsed lung - and still all he was thinking about was, 'How am I going to tilt this in my favour, and keep the door open and the dream alive as long as I can?'.

"I know that, mentality, I would have been thinking the same as him, and trying as hard as he was to convince myself it would be OK.

"I bet, at some stage this week, for his own peace of mind, he will try wrest himself out of bed, so he can say to himself, 'I did everything I could'.

"And that just shows you just how much riding at the Cheltenham Festival means to a National Hunt jockey."

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