Sunday 18 August 2019

Katie Walsh: 'Throughout my entire career I was blessed to have Ruby as a big brother'

Katie and Ruby Walsh
Katie and Ruby Walsh

Katie Walsh

Just like he always said he would, Ruby went out on a winner.

Throughout my entire career I was blessed to have him as a big brother and a soundboard for advice and what a way for him to go out... riding a Punchestown Gold Cup winner for Willie Mullins. That even beats my exit!

What Rubes has gone through in the last couple of years with injury has been agonising and he felt this was the right time to go and what a few weeks he has had.

From another Grade One at Cheltenham to Aintree and then an Irish Grand National before two more Grade Ones at Punchestown.

Obviously I would have loved to have been there to share it with him, but I’ve had to go to Newmarket, where I’ve got horses selling. But it was fantastic to watch on and know that he got to go out on such a high, on his own terms, and in front of Gillian and the girls, Mam, Dad, Jennifer and Ted.

As Ruby said himself, he got to ride some incredible horses over the years. I think we share the same highlight of his riding career and that was Papillon in the 2000 Grand National.

I led him up that day for Dad and that was probably the one winner of his career that stands out more than any other me. But thankfully there were so many. It was always going to have a special day in our hearts and 19 years later it still does.

There were just so many fantastic days and we were lucky to be there for lots of them. There were some very tough days too and that is the ups and downs of this sport.

They are all behind him now and he can look forward to the next chapter of his life.

Ruby gets to go out on his terms and it was a magical way to finish. I think there is no doubt that he goes out at the top of his game too. Over the last couple of months he has been riding at the peak of his ability and as good as he ever was.

We saw that at Cheltenham, at Aintree and again at Fairyhouse, and he won’t forget his final ride on Kemboy either.

But Ruby has always been a very strong character and I suppose there is a bit of that in us all!

When he decided last summer, or whenever it was, that this was going to be his final season, he wasn’t going to change his mind regardless of what winners he rode in the last few weeks or months.

I’m obviously extremely proud of what he has achieved. We all are, and I hope he enjoys his retirement from the time he wakes up this morning. I’m sure Gillian and the girls will be delighted to see a lot more of him around the place now that he won’t have to go racing every day.

There’s a lot of good races at the Punchestown Festival but the Punchestown Gold Cup is the biggest and Ruby went out on the best possible note.

He won’t care less but he might miss a few more winners today!

I thought BAPAUME (5.30 Punchestown) could win the Stayers’ Hurdle. He ran very well behind Paisley Park at Cheltenham and a repeat of that run would be enough to see him win this against a few older rivals.

Ruby actually had a very good book of rides today when you look down through it.

CHACUN POUR SOI (6.40 Punchestown) looked awesome at Naas when he won and connections are hoping to make up for lost time now as he had been a while trying to get on to the track. This is a quality field but I think he’s the one I’d like to be riding in it.

ELFIE (7.15 Punchestown) then runs in the next race for Willie and she ran well at a big price last week at Fairyhouse after running a nice race at Cheltenham.

This might not be as strong a contest a those races and she can take full advantage.

Jamie Codd had a winner a day so far and can make it three from three in the last for Martin Brassil on the Galway bumper winner YOU RAISED ME UP (7.45 Punchestown).

Martin has City Island running here on Friday but it would be nice if he could warm up for that with a winner here this evening.

Whatever happens, it will probably be a bit quieter than yesterday but I look forward to catching up with Ruby and all the gang when I get back from Newmarket. 

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