Ruby goes out on a high as he wins Gold Cup - then says the race was his last
Champion jockey Ruby Walsh went out on a high last night after hanging up the saddle on his illustrious 24-year career.
The 39-year-old exited the track in spectacular style after denying Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo a win in the feature race of the day at Punchestown.
But shortly after claiming victory aboard Kemboy in the Gold Cup, he stunned racing fans by announcing in his post-race interview that he was going to retire immediately.
There were jubilant scenes in the parade ring as fellow jockeys such as Davy Russell poured buckets of water over his head to huge cheers from the assembled crowd.
The 12-times champion jockey was joined in the celebrations by his proud wife Gillian and their three daughters Isabelle, Gemma and Elsa.
Walsh said he had made up his mind some time last summer that the end was in sight and he had discussed it at length with his other half.
"There comes a time when you want to do something else, and I've been a jump jockey for 24 years and I'm nearly 40 and I thought, 'I want to do something else for the next four or five years', and I'm lucky enough to have great sponsors and contacts in racing... instead of them being bit-part players in my life, they're going to be my life now."
He said that if Rathvinden had won at Aintree, he would probably have retired then, and he had indicated to Willie Mullins that the Gold Cup could be his last race.
Meanwhile, May Day heralded the official start of the summer season and, just on cue, warm temperatures and sunny spells ensured strong figures for day two of the event.
Business was brisk at the turnstiles as thousands of racing fans made the annual pilgrimage to the Kildare venue to study the form and study the style.
Cleaning up in the Bollinger best dressed lady contest was Kate Nally McCormack, an environmental health officer from Longford. The mother of three had traded a day of inspecting restaurants for some fine dining at the races.
She looked chic in a flowing red and ivory dress from Self Portrait, with accessories from Zara and a hat from Suzanne Ryan Millinery. She was "absolutely thrilled" with the win.