It was highly appropriate that Ruby Walsh retired from horse racing in May with a victory, for his star-studded, 24-year National Hunt career has been one glorious highlights reel.
Born in Kill, County Kildare, he announced his talent at the age of just 18, when he won the Irish amateur title. He then won it again the next year, before turning professional.
It didn’t take him long to make his presence felt on the pro scene either, as he notched the first of his two Grand National victories in 2000, aged just 20, in his first attempt at the gruelling steeplechase.
He also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Hennessy Gold Cup and Whitbread Gold Cup twice, as well as claiming the King George VI Chase five times and the Australian Grand National once.
Walsh was Irish National Hunt champion jockey 12 times and leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival 11 times, in addition to being the latter’s most successful rider ever with 59 wins.
His many achievements led to him being named winner of the International Jockey of the Year Lester Award three times and Horse Racing Ireland’s National Hunt Award five times.
All together, this prolific 40-year-old Irishman rode over 2,500 winners, with the last coming in the Punchestown Gold Cup, his 213th Grade 1 triumph, in front of a sell-out crowd, to underline why he was known as one of the finest National Hunt jockeys ever.