Ruby 'ready to rock' for Galway Races
Ruby Walsh is "ready to rock" ahead of his long-awaited return to the saddle at the Galway Races later this month (July 30-August 5).
Walsh has suffered terrible luck in the past year with his most recent leg break - from a fall aboard Al Boum Photo at Cheltenham in March - coming just days after his comeback from a similar injury.
That's all in the past, however, and having ridden out for his boss Willie Mullins for the past three weeks - four mornings a week - the irreplaceable Kildare jockey can't wait to rejoin the weighing room in Ballybrit after a prolonged period watching on from the sidelines.
"The surgeon is adamant that I needed another couple of weeks so he's the boss, whenever he's happy for me to return, I'll be back," Walsh said at yesterday's Galway Races launch in Dublin.
"I won't be back before Galway. I'm in the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry twice a week, I was there this morning. It's going well, I'm ready to rock and I'm looking forward to Galway. That's the plan.
"All going well I'll be back for then, it feels fine so I don't see why I won't and I'm looking forward to it. There's no point in talking about it anymore, I just want to go and do it. I'm looking forward to getting back so hopefully things will keep going the way they are going.
"Is it frustrating looking on? It's the eighth month of it now so I'm kind of getting used to looking on."
Cheltenham and Punchestown aside, it doesn't get much bigger than Ballybrit and Walsh had one of his most satisfying days in the saddle there two years ago when Clondaw Warrior, part-owned by his wife Gillian, claimed the Galway Hurdle.
With "huge prize money" up for grabs, Walsh views it as "an important week in the calendar" for reigning champion trainer Mullins and he can understand why the equine quality is improving every year with subsequent Stayers' Hurdle victor Penhill winning his novice hurdle at Galway two years ago.
"A lot of it is down to Galway, they produce a surface that you're not afraid to run a good horse on. There's a lot of money there and plenty of races that suit the kind of horses we (Team Mullins) have," the 39-year-old said.
"But this is not Cheltenham, it's different racing. Galway is an incredible machine.
"They're never content to sit on what they have, they've made it into a phenomenal festival. It's about a lot more than the racing - the racing is a small part of Galway."
Arctic Fire - a horse Walsh won on four times including the Grade One Hatton's Grace Hurdle in 2015 - is set to sensationally come out of retirement to contest the Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary on Thursday.
Time was called on the 2015 Champion Hurdle runner-up's career in January due to injury, but owner Nick Peacock has had a change of heart and he is set to make his first appearance for Kildare trainer Denis Cullen.
"He was stood in a field looking rather sorry and miserable and because the lameness he had was never fully explained, I decided we'd put him back into training and see how we got on," Peacock said.
"He's actually got on very well. There's been no sign of his previous injury and he's somewhere close to being match fit, if not quite peak fit. Obviously, the horse's welfare is paramount and the jockey will be under strict instructions to pull him up if he feels something is amiss."