No poker faces in sight as Katie boosts Walsh haul
IT is not often that tears flow in the winners' enclosure in Cheltenham.
But it was a truly remarkable day for the legendary Walsh family.
Jockey Katie Walsh, the sister of record-breaking Ruby and daughter of trainer and RTE pundit Ted Walsh, was overcome as she entered the winners' enclosure for the first time at the festival.
The 25-year-old accomplished rider, aboard Poker De Sivola, had battled with her close friend jockey Nina Carberry coming up the home straight to take the spoils in the race.
It was a 1-2 for the girls in the amateurs' contest as Nina took second place on Becauseicouldntsee, who remarkably ran on just three shoes having shed one just before the race.
There are close ties between the Walsh and Carberry clans as Nina's partner is Katie's brother, Ted Walsh Jnr, and the families share an apartment in Cheltenham for the festival.
"Nina's a great friend and knows how much it means to me," said Katie, as she fought back tears.
"Winning at Cheltenham is something that everyone wants to do and I'm fortunate that it's my turn this year.
"Ruby said well done to me but he didn't really need to say anything, the look in his eyes said it all. He knows what it means. I'm lost for words. I don't want to sound soft but this is definitely the best day of my life."
The beaming face of proud father Ted could be seen on the television screens at the festival.
"What a great ride Katie got off him. It is great for her. Nina's a big part of our family too. This is a great day for me, Helen, Katie and all of us. Katie will remember this for the rest of her life," he said.
The only cloud in sight was that Katie and Nina were hit with bans of four and five days respectively after stewards found they used their whips with excessive frequency.
Later, Ruby broke the record of the highest number of festival wins set by the late Pat Taaffe, the rider of the legendary Arkle. Walsh notched up his 26th win aboard Sanctuaire in the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Handicap Hurdle.