Ruby was a real diamond
Rupert “Ruby” Walsh, one of, the best jockeys of the last twenty years, jumped off Kemboy after riding him to victory in the Punchestown Gold Cup and announced his immediate retirement from race riding.
It was a shock to all, including Willie Mullins who had to find a replacement jockey for Livelovelaugh.
Walsh will forever be remembered as the man who rode Kauto Star and Big Bucks. He also rode Denman, although not in his Gold Cup win, Hurricane Fly, Faugheen, Douvan and possibly one of the best jumpers we will ever see in Vautour.
He won Grand Nationals, King Georges, Gold Cups, Champion Hurdles. He was always the man for the big occasion. His ride on Kemboy at Aintree recently was a masterclass in front running.
But he was tough too. Like most in his trade he has had horrific injuries. But he would come back as soon as he could. Sooner than most. There are others with more knowledge of the man and with more experience of the game who have paid tribute and there cannot be many who would disagree with the plaudits being given.
He could appear a bit moody at times but that was surely because he is a winner and if things weren’t going well his disappointment could manifest itself as gruffness
Ignore the rubbish
And ignore the rubbish about him “falling off” horses. If he really wanted to stop a horse there are less obvious ways than falling at the last in a championship race watched by millions.
I cannot believe he won’t be involved with horses in the future. His dad is a trainer and Willie Mullins has already mentioned hoping to have him around in some capacity. His knowledge will be very useful.
Here’s hoping he has a long and happy retirement. Thanks for the memories. My favourite has to be Kauto winning the 2009 King George by a distance although Denman’s second Hennessy would be close.
Altior did it again. Once again, he had to make his own running in a small field. He often looks like he is going to be caught but then he just pulls away.
The plan is to step up in trip next season starting around two and a half miles with the King George as the ultimate target for the first half of the season.
Hopefully he will get some opposition and there will be a front runner or two to give him a lead. He is so classy, and tough, that it will take a good one to beat him.
Ascot had a trials day for horses looking to reappear at the Royal meeting next month. Barney Roy, who has been brought back to racing after not quite cutting it in the breeding sheds, and Lady Pauline, a half sister to Lady Aurelia, were both beaten favourites.
Derby runner up Dee Ex Bee won the Sagaro and is now as short as 8/1 for the Ascot Gold Cup.
But the performance of the day was surely Calyx. The one-time Guineas hopeful scooted clear to win the Commonwealth Cup trial by four lengths. He was running only his third race and is unbeaten.
It is a shame he is not running in the Guineas. He is very speedy but, if they could hold on to him until the final furlong, I think a mile might just be in his range.
Punchestown has been brilliant. Un De Sceaux would have given a few of us watery eyes when he won the Champion Chase and Klassical Dream and Minella Indo confirmed Cheltenham form.
I have been banging on about how good the RSA Chase was and third placed Delta Work won the Champion Novice Chase by twelve lengths.
How will I get through the next six months without jumps racing? Oh I know. Top flat racing.
So who is left?
The Ballydoyle pair of Magna Grecia and Ten Sovereigns head the market and both have compelling cases. Magna Grecia was only beaten once last term when a neck second behind Persian King in the Autumn Stakes over course and distance.
He went on to win the Group One Futurity Stakes at Doncaster. Ten Sovereigns won the Middle Park and that run is the top rated of the runners left in the race. Highly talented, there is a slight stamina concern on breeding but if he gets the mile he is right up there.
On Sunday it is the turn of the fillies. Nell Gwyn winner Qabala heads the market. She looked very good that day and I think she can come on from that run. Skitter Scatter was last seen winning the Moyglare from some decent rivals. She will make her debut for John Oxx in the Guineas.
Iridessa is another with a chance. She won the Fillies Mile but was beaten on her reappearance. Could need further in time? Dandhu came from the back to win the Fred Darling but the runner up, Iconic Choice, was catching her and is twice the price.
That form could be reversed. Dandhu was behind Just Wonderful in the Rockfel last season. That winner has not been the most consistent but being saddled by Aiden O’Brien means her price might be a shade short.
I am going to go with a Ballydoyle runner though. FAIRYLAND won four from five last season including the Cheveley Park. Her only defeat was at Royal Ascot in the Albany where she was best of the group on the far side.
Stamina not guaranteed on breeding but she is second top rated on RPR and clear top on speed ratings. She is around 8/1 too so an each-way double is my play.
Good luck all