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Ruby Walsh

Ruby Walsh

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Ruby Walsh

The jump jockeys' championship is poised for a compelling climax.

In the last four years, three riders have landed the title, a Davy Russell brace sandwiched by the triumphs of Willie Mullins' duo of Paul Townend and Ruby Walsh.

With 37 winners currently leaving him fifth in the table, Russell hasn't let the grass grow under his feet in his first term without Gigginstown's backing, and freshman Jonathan Burke is flying high in a share of third with Walsh on 39. However, it is unlikely Russell or Burke will have the firepower to a sustain challenge.

Mark Walsh has been a revelation. With 61 wins, he enjoys a lead of five over Townend. It would be great to see a fourth different rider top the pile, and, for all that AP McCoy's forays home will hinder Walsh, if JP McManus backs him, the ammunition is there for him to go close.

He is a best-priced 6/4 to hang on, with reigning champion Ruby Walsh available at 2/1 and Townend at 3/1. The smart money might be on the nine-time holder, who missed four months up to October due to injury.

Since then, he has outscored his namesake 34-26, and there is time enough to reel him in if he stays fit.

Irish Independent