No sooner had his feet touched the ground following another epic win in the Punchestown Gold Cup and racing legend, Ruby Walsh, announced his retirement. Arguably one of the greatest jockeys alive, Walsh’s career accomplishments are nothing short of exhausting. Holding the record at Cheltenham, he has been the lead jockey at the Festival 11 times, winning the Gold Cup on Kauto Star twice.
He has won the Grand National twice – Papillon in 2000 and Hedgehunter in 2005. He can also add the Irish Grand National three times, the Hennessy Gold Cup and six Punchestown Gold Cup winners to his tally. And that’s only a fraction of the incredible races he has won since his career started all the way back in 1995. Especially if you include a record five King George VI Chases on Kauto Star!
For 24 years Ruby Walsh has been a staple of the racing world. He holds the record for the number of times he was Champion jump jockey in Ireland. That’s an astounding twelve times. Plus he also bagged the Leading jump jockey in Britain (prize-money) three times.
In total, Ruby Walsh has notched up 2,756 wins over jumps in Ireland & Britain (Ireland 1,980, Britain 776). So his unanticipated retirement, though earned, is still something of a surprise to his fans.
At Punchestown yesterday he said: “That’s it. When you’re going out at Punchestown, you go out on a winner.
“You’ll never again see me on a horse – I’m finished. That’s it – it’s all over.”
Explaining his reasoning he added: “I’ve had an incredible career. It’s all about big races and you want to go out on a big one.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. Punchestown is home, and it’s time for something new. Nothing lasts forever.”
But for all the glory to comes from dominating a sport, Walsh has also suffered terribly from injuries. Among them are fractured wrists and hips, a cracked an elbow, a cracked jaw, a ruptured spleen, dislocation of both of his shoulders and a cracked and bruised vertebrae.
Speaking after the Punchestown win to Racing TV, Walsh said about his last injury: “I did think this isn’t the way I want to finish.
“My goal was to get back and get out in one piece.
“Papillon [in the Grand National] was the one above all that you couldn’t repeat, but I’ve been so lucky that to pick out one would be unfair.
“I’d made up my mind that if Kemboy won I would get out after that, so it’s brilliant.”
So what next for Ruby Walsh? He is already a pundit for Racing TV so perhaps he’ll expand on that. Whatever he decides to do we all wish him the best of luck!