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26th Apr 2021

The moment it dawned on Willie Mullins that Ruby was finished and things would never be the same

Niall McIntyre

Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby.

It says it all about the Kildare man, that a surname isn’t even necessary. Up there on the same level as DJ, Roy and Rory, when it comes to horse-racing, Walsh will always stand alone.

Time flies and it’s hard to believe that it’s almost two years since the greatest national hunt jockey of all hung up his whip, signing off with a dream win on the track he knew every corner of.

What made it all the more special on that May-day back in 2019 is that other than his wife and immediate family, there wasn’t a sinner in Punchestown who knew that if Kemboy was to win the Punchestown Gold Cup, then Ruby Walsh would never ride another race.

Paul Townend didn’t know. Willie Mullins was none-the-wiser.

The wave at the finishing post could have given it away, so too, could the endless list of injuries from a life-time in racing, but maybe we just didn’t want to belive it.

You could hardly blame Mullins then, knocked for six by the shock of it all, for letting out the most genuine ‘f*cking hell’ you could ever imagine as Walsh filled him in at the parade ring.

To build up to this year’s Punchestown festival, Ruby, taking us through every last detail from the final furlong to his conversation with the boss-man, relived that emotional farewell.

“When he lands then I’m thinking ‘I have a furlong, before this is all over.”

A breath-taking account from one of Ireland’s most charismatic sports personalities. And then along came Paul Townend…