‘You’ll never see me on a horse again, I’m finished’ – Ruby Walsh retires in style
WITH the sound of applause still ringing in his ears, Ruby Walsh removed the saddle from Kemboy and told Willie Mullins, the great Kilkenny trainer, that he was done.
“I’m not going out for the next one,” Ruby said after weighing in for the final time. “Racing has been great to me but it doesn’t last forever.”
The huge Punchestown crowd burst into spontaneous applause. Emotional scenes ensued as a 24-year riding career that produced almost 2,800 winners, including a record 59 at the Cheltenham Festival, came to an end.
Ruby was surrounded by father, trainer and broadcaster Ted, wife Gillian and daughters Isabelle, Elsa and Gemma.
“The time comes when you want to do something else with your life. I was going to go when I won a big one.”
And what a “big one” to go out on.
Just two weeks from his 40th birthday, Ruby exhibited the sort of big-race timing he’s been famous for by winning the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on the 13-8 favourite Kemboy.
And then, in his own inimitable style, Ruby made his dramatic announcement, taking his old ally Willie Mullins by complete surprise.
The Goresbridge trainer said afterwards: “Even I’m surprised. Ruby caught me on the hop.
“He got off the horse. I said, ‘Well done’ and he said, ‘You’d better find a rider for Livelovelaugh later’. And I was wondering was he dehydrated or something and couldn’t race for the rest of the day.
“And then he said, ‘I’m finished’. Then it dawned on me that he’d just announced his retirement. What a surprise to me anyway. We don’t discuss the ‘R’ word in our house for either man or beast and it caught me on the hop completely.
“But I’m delighted to see him going out on his own terms. And it’s the end of an era and I’m just delighted to be part of the Ruby Walsh riding career. It’s just the complete end of an era.”