Ruby Walsh left the horse racing world a little stunned when he retired from the sport with immediate effect. The announcement came straight after riding Kemboy to success in the Grade One Irish Gold Cup at Punchestown. He had been waiting for a Grade One winner on home soil and got to exit the sport while he was right at the top. Just the way he wanted to.
Walsh has hinted since retiring that he would have made the move at Aintree if Rathvinden would have won the Grand National. Although Tiger Roll prevented that from happening and Rathvinden finished third. We have long seen sporting stars from many different fields name their retirement date and stick to it, but Ruby wanted to do things differently. He wanted one last big success, and he certainly got that.
His career wins have been a who’s who of horse racing. He has ridden some of the best horses to victory and goes down as being one of the greatest jockeys in the sport. His affiliation with Paul Nicholls and Kauto Star will probably be what Ruby is remembered for. Though in recent years he has helped Willie Mullins dominate UK and Irish horse racing.
It should come as no surprise to people to see how Paul Nicholls took a turn for the worse when Ruby left. And subsequently how Willie Mullins has emerged through the ranks in Ireland since Ruby joined the yard. That shows how special this man is, and how important he is to the trainers he rides for. Ruby doesn’t just show up and ride the best horses to victory. He works hard at home and he plans races, offering his expert insight to those around him.
Paul Nicholls lost a big piece of the Ditcheat team when Ruby moved back home. However, it is now Mullins that will suffer having just lost his right-hand man. So it will be interesting to see how he copes with the change.
As for what the future holds for Ruby Walsh, as racing fans, we all hope and pray that he remains in the sport. He has such a knowledgeable head on him, that he needs to be used in some capacity. It would be no surprise if he moved into TV, and would make the perfect race analyser. With Racing TV covering the Irish action and already having Ruby on board as an ambassador, they would certainly be favourites to do more work with him.
There is the chance that somewhere down the line he takes a more hands-on role. Training would certainly be something he could do if he wanted to. His dad Ted currently trains, and we could see a situation where Ruby helps him out as his assistant. That is, before taking over when Ted retires, and what a fascinating prospect that is.