Ruby Walsh is one of the most famous and successful jockeys in the world. He is the son of the former champion amateur jockey Ted Walsh and brother to jockey Katie Walsh. He won his first Irish amateur title in 1996/7 at just 18 years of age. And then again in 1997/8, before turning professional.
At just 20 years old he rode to victory in the Aintree Grand National in 2000 on Papillon. It was his first attempt and the horse was trained by his father. Father and son then went on to win the Irish Grand National with Commanche Court the same year.
In the 2004/5 season Walsh won three of the four Nationals: the Irish on the 2006 Grand National winner, Numbersixvalverde, the Welsh on subsequent 2007 Grand National winner Silver Birch, and the English on Hedgehunter.
Prior to his retirement Walsh had ridden over 2,700 winners including 59 winners at the Cheltenham Festival since his first win in 1998 on Alexander Banquet. They include the 2007 Cheltenham Gold Cup on Kauto Star and a second Queen Mother success in 2008 on Master Minded.
He also scored a treble on opening day of the 2013 Festival. In 2007, Walsh won the inaugural British Horseracing Board Jockeys’ Order of Merit award. In 2016 he won seven Cheltenham Festival races and as of 2019 is the Festival’s most successful rider with 59 wins.
He has also won the leading rider’s award eleven times within the last fourteen years.
Ruby Walsh And The Grand National
Walsh has ridden in 10 Grand Nationals with two wins under belt. However, 2012 was another disappointment as history appeared to repeat itself. As in 2010, Walsh was injured in the same earlier race on the day when he fell from Zarkandar and could not compete in the National.
Hoping that more luck was on his side in 2013, Walsh renewed his partnership with the Willie Mullins and Graham Wylie owned On His Own but it was not to be and he fell at Valentine’s on the second circuit.
A Cheltenham Festival fall in 2014 resulted in a compound fracture to his arm so he also missed that one. For 2015 he was on board Ballycasey but was brought down at the Canal Turn. As luck would have it, he once again injured him at the Aintree Festival and was ruled out of the 2016 Grand National.
By 2017 he had paired with Pleasant company who he steered home in 9th place. But injury once again ruled him out in 2018 and David Mullins steered Pleasant Company home in second place.
For the 2019 Grand National, Ruby Walsh partnered second favourite, Rathvinden. Riding for Willie Mullins, his odds were short at around 9/1 and while he ran a great race, he could only manage 3rd place.
Ruby Walsh Retirement
The announcement that Ruby Walsh was to retire was a shock to everybody, including trainer Willie Mullins who had no idea that it was on the cards. It came at Punchestown on May 1st 2019 when Walsh rode Kemboy to victory in the Punchestown Gold Cup.
It was his 213th Grade One success and Walsh was done, ending his 24 career. Citing that he wanted it to feel like a celebration, Walsh had achieved everything he wanted from racing.
It also didn’t help that the sheer number of injuries he had sustained made his job even more difficult.
But Ruby Walsh hasn’t faded from the spotlight. He is a well-known Racing presenter and commentator and is always seen at the major festivals working for RTE, iTV and Racing TV.