In fitting style, Ruby Walsh told racing’s media of his plan having just won the Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup on Kemboy, with a ride of a jockey at the very top of his game. It was another top-level victory to add to a very substantial trophy cabinet, in a career which has seen him become a household name in the sport of kings.
In a career spanning over 20 years, Ruby has become synonymous with the big Festivals like Cheltenham and Aintree, and will be remembered for all the great partnerships he forged with some of the biggest names to grace National Hunt racing. We’ve selected 6 of those partnerships which have stood out over his glittering time in the saddl
Kauto, Ruby, Nicholls. A truly magical racing combination. All three of them at their peak were an unstoppable force on the racetrack. Few will forget the epic Cheltenham Gold Cup duels between Kauto Star and Denman in 2008 and 2009, where Kauto and Ruby achieved legendary status by becoming the first partnership to regain the Gold Cup in the 2009 renewal.
Kauto and Ruby would amass a wealth of high profile Grade 1 victories. These included a record five King George VI Chases, four Betfair Chases, two Tingle Creeks and over £3.7m in earnings. A truly awesome partnership.
Ruby has carried the iconic Rich Ricci silks on board many great horses, but few brought him as much long term success as Faugheen “the machine”. He rode him for 16 of his 22 races under rules, winning 10 times including two Christmas Hurdles, and both the Cheltenham and Punchestown Champion Hurdles. Between 2013 and 2015 the pair were nothing short of invincible, winning over any distance and at any course, stylishly dismissing any rival.
Amidst injury concerns, his form started to drift but Ruby’s bond with the horse was clear – amicably pulling him up and dismounting at the slightest sign of Faugheen not seeming himself at Aintree this year. This was all the more honourable given Ruby’s desire win and is a tremendous testament to his love for the horses. Despite Faugheen’s troubles, he still retains enormous ability. The pair will always be remembered for their multiple demolition jobs at the very highest level and era of total domination.
Although coming up against Denman many times with his arch rival Kauto Star, Ruby and ‘The Tank’ enjoyed some incredible days together with multiple big race successes.
As well as three Grade Ones, Ruby partnered Denman to seven of his 14 victories, including the epic 10 length victory in the 2007 RSA Chase. It was Ruby’s 13th Cheltenham Festival victory, he would go on to win a further 46 Festival races and become the most successful jockey in Cheltenham Festival history!
However, the biggest win Ruby and Denman had together was the 2009 Hennessey. The Paul Nicholls’ charge went off as a well fancied favourite despite carrying a whole stone more than any of his rivals.
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 27, 2018
Ruby tracked the leaders throughout before he patiently maneuvered his superstar to the front whilst Denman’s continued jumping excellence made such a task look easy.
The pair stayed on gamely to claim victory, the perfect performance by both horse and rider.
“It was disbelief. I never thought that I would ever win a Grand National. As a kid growing up Irish horses never competed in the English Grand National. It wasn’t something I ever thought I’d achieve. “To me it was the greatest day I ever had in racing.”
Ruby’s first ever win on the biggest stage of them all, the 2000 Grand National, was extra special as the horse he rode to victory, Papillon, was trained by his father Ted Walsh. Ruby would win the race again 5 years later on Hedgehunter for Willie mullins.