It is always a heartbreaking moment when a sports icon announces his/her retirement. The most recent sports personality to ‘jump’ to the other side is Ruby Walsh.
Considered as one of the finest National Hunt jockeys in history, the former Irish jockey has always been a part of the horse-riding world. His father, Ted Walsh, is a former amateur champion. Ruby’s sister Katie is also one of the most respected female jockeys.
In his 24-year career long as a jockey, Ruby has created history multiple times. He has ridden 2,500 winners, more than any jockey ever. That number also includes 59 winners at the Cheltenham Festival. He has also been the Irish jump jockey champion 12 times.
He has also won the Irish amateur title twice in 1996/97 and 1997/98 before going professional. On his very first attempt in 2000, Ruby won the English Grand National riding on Papillion, trained by his father Ted and owned by Mrs. J Maxwell Moran. The same year, he also won the Irish Grand National with his father.
Ever since then, one of the sports’ all-time greats has galloped past previous records including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Hennessy Gold Cup and Whitbread Gold Cup. In 2007, Walsh was also honoured with the inaugural British Horseracing Board Jockeys’ Order of Merit award.
Professional achievements are one thing but it is really special when you have a song written on you. Singer/songwriter Christy Moore mentioned Ruby in ‘The Ballad of Ruby Walsh’ after watching the jockey at the Galway races. What’s more, Ruby also appeared in a TG4 documentary, titled ‘Jump Boys’ that followed the journeys of Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty and Davy Russell.
Ruby Walsh currently lives with his wife Gillian and four daughters in Calverstown, County Kildare. He announced his retirement on 1 May 2019, immediately after riding to victory on Kemboy in the Punchestown Gold Cup.
“Time moves on, I’ve done it for 24 years and to be honest I want to do something else over the next 24 – I’m just not sure what.”