The victory of Siren Song, trained by his father Ted, at Gowran Park in July 1995 represented the start of Ruby Walsh’s stellar career. Some 24 years and a total of 2,768 winners later he bowed out as one of the greatest jockeys of all time.
Over the course of his amazing career Walsh amassed an unparalleled 59 winners at Cheltenham, the first of which came aboard the Willie Mullins-trained Alexander Banquet in 1998.
In a never to be forgotten day in Punchestown Festival history Ruby Walsh yesterday called time on his career after partnering Kemboy to victory in the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup.
After Kemboy produced a brilliant display to account for the Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo, Walsh waved goodbye to the Punchestown crowd. Within minutes it was confirmed that the legendary rider was retiring with immediate effect.
“I was going to go out when I won a big one. After Min was beaten yesterday I knew I had Kemboy, Bapaume, Melon and Benie Des Dieux to come. I’m not a poker player and when Kemboy won I wasn’t going to roll the dice again,” explained Walsh afterwards.
“It has always been about big races and I said when I won a big one I could walk away. Nothing goes on forever. I’ve been riding for 24 years and I want to do something else now.
“Any jockey is only as good as the horses they ride and I’ve been lucky to ride some of the greatest horses of my lifetime,” reflected Walsh who singled out his Aintree Grand National victory on his father’s Papillon in 2000 as a career highlight.
“In my own mind I probably came to the decision last summer. I thought that I might get out on Rathvinden in the Grand National but Tiger Roll got in the way and I’d have been kicking myself if I had passed on the opportunity to go out on Kemboy.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day not dreading it – when your mind is made up it’s made up. In terms of my career I didn’t dream or foresee what has happened to me.
“Do I feel lucky, yes I do and I’m lucky I am walking away in one piece. When I told my dad last week he was just delighted that I was doing what I wanted to do,” concluded Walsh.
A crowd of 18,887 in attendance on day two of the Punchestown Festival will never forget the day the wonderful Ruby Walsh called time on his career.
For more on Kilkenny People sport read here.
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