- Horse Racing
Walsh & Nicholls end profitable partnership
Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls - one of the most successful jockey-trainer duos in horse racing - have decided to end their partnership after more than a decade.
Walsh and Nicholls had enjoyed constant jumps success as a pairing, but the 34-year-old Irish jockey has now decided to focus on domestic racing to allow him to spend more time with his young family.
Grand National-winning rider Daryl Jacob will now step into Walsh's No. 1 spot at Nicholls' stables, although Walsh will still be available for occasional appearances.
"Myself and Ruby have been chatting for the past couple of months," Nicholls revealed in his Betfair column. "It was clear that the constant travelling to and from Ireland, with his wife Gillian and the girls at home, was becoming a bit of a grind for him.
"So, for personal rather than professional reasons, he has taken the decision to end his near 11-year role as stable jockey at Ditcheat, having started here in October 2002, to concentrate on riding in Ireland.
"He came over to explain his decision on Saturday, and we both agreed it was the best way forward in the circumstances."
Walsh believes Nicholls has been responsible for some of the best moments of his professional career.
"Paul has never been anything but fair and honest since our association began and has been responsible for some of the most amazing days of my life," Walsh told the Irish Examiner.
"With horses like Kauto Star, Denman, Master Minded, Azertyuiop, Strong Flow and Twist Magic, to the current stars Big Buck's, Silviniaco Conti and Al Ferof, great horses were, and still, are a stable diet in Ditcheat.
"Being stable jockey there enabled me to ride in, and win, the biggest races in our sport, so walking away from my position as stable jockey was never going to be easy.
"However, I felt towards the end of last season that the travelling was starting to take its toll - my family and I were like passing ships in the night."
Walsh will remain the top jockey for trainer Willie Mullins' Irish operation, but Nicholls will still call upon him when possible.
Nicholls added: "It isn't as if he is severing all his ties here at Ditcheat anyway, as he will continue to ride for us this season and in the future when he is needed and when he is available."