- Full name Ruby Walsh
- Birth date May 14, 1979
- Birth place Kill, County Kildare
- Current age 35 years 293 days
- Height 5 ft 10 in
The Rolling Stones may have had their "Ruby Tuesday" but the National Hunt punters in the UK usually find themselves enjoying a "Ruby Saturday" when this silver-haired Irishman is in the field of the week's feature race. Though, having ridden over 1400 winners, he often enjoys the other days of the week too.
Walsh's partnership with Ditcheat-based trainer Paul Nicholls is the dominant force in the UK jump scene while over in Ireland, he rides for Willie Mullins. That both are champion trainers in their respective countries, and both choose to share Walsh, reflects his mastery.
Like many in the racing game, Rupert Walsh, his given name, entered the family business. His father Ted, a familiar face on UK and Irish television coverage, was a leading amateur jockey of his day and is also a trainer of some repute. Indeed, he trained the 2000 Grand National winner in Papillon, ridden, of course, by his then 20-year-old son. The pair won the Irish Grand National the same month with Commanche Court. He repeated his Aintree success on the Mullins-trained Hedgehunter in 2005.
Having first won at the Cheltenham Festival in the 1998 Champion Bumper as a mere 17-year-old, he started to hit his stride at jump racing's HQ when winning the Arkle Trophy in 2003 and the Queen Mother Champion Chase aboard the Nicholls-trained Azertyuiop. From then on, the Nicholls-Walsh partnership has swept to near-dominance at the Festival with the 2009 event seeing Walsh winning a record seven races in four days, leaving him second in all-time wins behind Pat Taaffe, rider of the legendary Arkle.
Walsh is most closely associated with Kauto Star, the fleet-hoofed French gelding that has carried him to four successive King George VI Chases at Kempton Park and, who in 2009, was the first horse to regain the Cheltenham Gold Cup when emulating his success of 2007. Kauto's nemesis and next-door neighbour at Nicholls' yard, Denman, has also been piloted to success on occasions by Walsh, including a Royal and SunAlliance Chase in 2007 and a thumping top-weight win of the 2009 Hennessey Gold Cup at Newbury that marked a comeback from a heart complaint the horse had suffered after running a Walsh-ridden Kauto Star into the ground at Cheltenham in 2008.
Master Minded, easy winner of both the 2008 and 2009 Champion Chase, is another superstar to be ridden in Walsh's familiar crooked-back style. A master of settling horses early in a race and delivering them at the right time, Walsh is described by Tony McCoy, his great rival and friend, as "the man who takes all the prize money".
In March 2011, Walsh recorded his first ever win in the feature race on the opening day of Cheltenham Festival, mounting Hurricane Fly to victory in the Champion Hurdle; a feat he repeated at the 2013 Festival to regain the crown.
Success at Cheltenham continued in March 2012 when Walsh notched his 30th winner at the Festival on board Quevega in the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle. A year later, horse and jockey were at it again when Walsh guided Quevega to an impressive fifth consecutive Mares' Hurdle win. As a result, Walsh became the most successful jockey in the Mares' Hurdle race with 5 wins, all on Quevega.
The 2012 Festival provided one of the most touching moments seen on a racecourse as Walsh pulled up Kauto Star during the Gold Cup; as horse and jockey cantered towards the post, applause erupted from the stands, not only for the incredible Kauto but for the legacy that both had left through their success together.
Walsh continues to edge closer to 2000 career winners and in March 2013 became Cheltenham Festival leading jockey for the seventh time in ten festivals.
Career High The 2009 Cheltenham Festival was a four-day purple patch for Walsh with seven wins in four days but without Kauto Star's crushing win in the Gold Cup it would perhaps have been edged with regret. An element of revenge was gained on second-placed Denman after the disappointment of 2008 and left the racing world looking forward to the 2010 renewal.
Career Low Walsh has suffered his fair share of injuries, an occupational hazard in his line of work. He suffered two broken legs as a teenager, and has followed that with a Gray's Anatomy of breaks and dislocations. After a heavy fall at Cheltenham's Paddy Power meeting in November 2008, he had to have his ruptured spleen removed yet was back in time to ride Kauto Star to a third successive King George just five weeks later.
Quotes "He's the horse of my lifetime. I'm very lucky to be the one who got to ride him. He was an incredible horse from the beginning, from when he won his novice chase in Newbury all the way to his fifth King George. He's got me to places I didn't think I'd ever be. He was just an incredible horse. A couple of Gold Cups, Betfair Chases, five King Georges, Tingle Creeks - he did everything." Ruby Walsh on the horse that brought him unbelievable success, Kauto Star, following the decision to retire the five-time King George VI Chase winner in 2012
Trivia Though Walsh's family home is back in County Kildare and he usually flits across the Irish Sea when fulfilling his engagements for the Nicholls and Mullins yards, he also has the use of "Ruby's Room", a spare chamber set aside at Tony McCoy's Berkshire mansion for him to use whenever he wishes to stay over in England.
- Five-star display from queen Quevega (Mar 12, 2013)
- Hurricane storms to Champion glory (Mar 12, 2013)
- Walsh commits to Hurricane Fly (Feb 16, 2013)
- Hurricane Fly in Festival Hurdle romp (Dec 29, 2012)
Tidal Bay bags Lexus Chase pot (Dec 28, 2012)