Katie Walsh 'so happy' Ruby retired on his own terms as he admits 'I always rode on the edge'

Katie Walsh 'so happy' Ruby retired on his own terms as he admits 'I always rode on the edge'

Ruby Walsh’s sister, Katie, reflects on the "many amazing days" of her brother’s racing career saying Ruby was ready to leave on his own terms.

It comes as Ruby, a columnist for the Irish Examiner, admits he will focus on a writing career.

The former jockey wrote in her Betway Insider blog that she was sorry not to be at Punchestown when her brother retired from the saddle on Wednesday.

It came just after his win in the Punchestown Gold Cup with Kemboy.

She said: "I wasn’t at Punchestown on Wednesday sadly as I was over in England for the sales.

"It was a great day and absolutely brilliant for Ruby to go out on his own terms after such a big win with Kemboy in the Punchestown Gold Cup at our local track.

"We’re a very close family thank god and they will all have enjoyed themselves on Wednesday night. I’m sorry I wasn’t there but they would have had a great celebration.

Katie Walsh.
Katie Walsh.

She went on to remember the bond and respect among the jockeys, including Ruby, and her brother's greatest day in his career, which doesn't involve the Cheltenham Festival where he is the most successful jockey ever.

She said: "Ruby has always been very competitive and professional. He was obviously very talented and I suppose he was lucky and unlucky at the same time. He rode some incredible horses but had a few more injuries than some of the other lads.

"He was always there to help and advise me, but it was the same for all the other jockeys. There’s a very tight bond in the weighing room and a great level of respect. Most senior jockeys are there to give a helping hand for anyone that needs it. That’s one of the great things about our sport.

"There have been so many amazing days but Papillon winning the Grand National in 2000 has to be number one for all of us. It was huge, such a great day. I was only 15 then but I led him up and it’s something we’ll never forget.

Ruby Walsh celebrating his Grand National win on Papillon in 2000. Pic: Inpho
Ruby Walsh celebrating his Grand National win on Papillon in 2000. Pic: Inpho

She finished by reflecting on her brother's racing years which includes more than 2,500 winners and says she is sure he will continue his success if he stays on to work with Willie Mullins' stable.

Katie said: "It’s been a great journey. I’ve been going to Cheltenham every year since 1997 and it’s always fantastic just to be a part of it all. We’ve had some incredible days as a family there.

"Ruby had a remarkable career, he was associated with so many brilliant horses. Kauto Star, Big Buck’s, Denman, Hurricane Fly, Quevega, Annie Power, Douvan, Faugheen and now Kemboy; the list goes on and on.

"Any jockey who retires on their own terms is ready to retire and Ruby was ready. He had some unbelievable highs and of course plenty of lows, but that’s the life of a National Hunt jockey. It’s much harder for those who have had the decision made for them.

"He can now move on to the next stage of his life and, as we all know, he’ll grab it with both hands.

The newly retired jockey is not planning a career in training and will instead focus on developing his budding communications career in writing and broadcasting.

He had been considering retirement for some time and had been looking for the “perfect occasion” to announce his plans and his win at Punchestown on Wednesday presented that opportunity, he told RTE radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.

“I was just so lucky to ride so many good horses.”

He said that becoming a jockey had been almost inevitable. “It’s in the veins.” His grandfather was a trainer and his father Ted is also a former jockey, now a trainer and pundit.

“Horses were always in our life. I always wanted to do it (become a jockey).”

At 16 he got his jockey’s licence and when he left school he “decided to give it a shot” as a full-time career.

“I knew I would be able to compete and I knew I could hold my own.”

He added that he had been lucky enough to have a “brilliant coach and mentor” in his father Ted.

Ruby Walsh with his wife Gillian and daughters Isabelle, Elsa and Gemma after announcing his retirement on Wednesday. Pic: Inpho
Ruby Walsh with his wife Gillian and daughters Isabelle, Elsa and Gemma after announcing his retirement on Wednesday. Pic: Inpho

Of his career, he said he always loved the big day and riding before big crowds. “The bigger the occasion, the more I enjoyed it.”

He said that he had always pushed himself. “I always rode on the edge, I pushed hard to the limit and I ended up on the floor some times. That was the life and that’s one part I won’t miss.”

Over the years he learned how to deal and manage with the pain of his many injuries and knew when his body was telling him he couldn’t do something. The physical pain was easier to deal with than “the disappointment and anger at watching something that I should have done.”

The only occasion on which he had been frightened was following a fall at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day when he fell on his head, crushing vertebrae and “I couldn’t get air. That scared me.”

He explained that he managed to keep his weight down by eating only twice a day, a pattern he intends to continue. “I never felt hungry before and I don’t think I will now.”

He also expressed great admiration for jockey TP McCoy, saying: “He set the standard for my generation of jockeys.”

As for the future, he said he is looking forward to going hunting with his children.

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