After 11 years hugely successful years as stable jockey to multiple times British champion trainer Paul Nicholls while at the same time also being stable jockey in his home country of Ireland to the all conquering Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins one of the all time great NH jockeys Ruby Walsh has decided to stand down as stable jockey to Paul Nicholls stating that the constant travel from Ireland to England getting up at 4.50am and not returning home til 8.30pm and having very limited time to spend with his family has understandably started to become a drag for him toward the end of last season prompting him to focus solely on his career over in Ireland.
He will still ride when he is needed and is available for Paul Nicholls and I have no doubt we will still have the pleasure of seeing this master horseman riding plenty more big races on these shores in the future.
As for what my own personal highlight's would be of Ruby's years riding on the UK there are two quite magical days that would stand out. The 2009 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury when Denman who's career almost came to end a year before due had a heart condition returned to the scene of his brilliant 2007 success in the Hennessy to put up one of the all time great NH performance's to defy the welter burden of 11-12 giving lumps of weight to a high class field that included What A Friend who went on to win two Grade 1 races later in that season and also the 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition who was also left trailing well behind miles Denman as he put up a herculean effort to light up Newbury on this most memorable day.
The 2nd would be the 2011 Betfair Chase at Haydock when the great Kauto Star written off by many returned to his very best despite being at the age of 11 to avenge his Cheltenham Gold Cup defeat by Long Run with a breathtaking display of jumping that none of his high class rivals this day could match as he won this very prestigious race for the 4th time. Scenes of utter jubilation followed this emotional victory as he was led back to a packed winners enclosure.
After 11 memorable years of success at the highest level here in the UK all I can say is thank you for providing many memorable days at the racetrack not that will not be any more to come and who is to say we have seen the last of Ruby Walsh riding Cheltenham Gold Cup/Grand National winners over here while I have no doubt if he avoids injury's it will take a special effort to prevent any jockey in his native land of Ireland to prevent him becoming champion jockey in the Emerald Isle.