Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
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RUBY Walsh is targeting a career in the media after shocking the racing world this week when announcing his immediate retirement after winning the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on Kemboy.
Walsh’s highlights include winning Kempton Park’s feature race, the King George VI Chase, five times on Kauto Star, in a spectacular career that netted 2756 wins, 213 at Grade 1 level.
The victories included two wins in the Grand National – notably Papillon (2000) who was trained by his father Ted Walsh – and Hedgehunter (2005). Walsh was the leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival a record 11 times where his many highlights included winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Kauto Star in 2007 and 2009.
“Nothing lasts forever and I wanted to do something else,” Walsh said. “It has always been about big ones and I said that when I won a big one I would walk away, and it doesn’t get any bigger than this,” he said after unsaddling the Willie Mullins trained-Kemboy.
“I think that without the help of good surgeons – Enda King was a genius – I wouldn’t have lasted as long as I have. Time moves on. I have done this for 24 years and I want to do something else for the next 24.
“I’ll have to write my own articles now. I have Racing TV and Paddy Power, I have great connections with those. Instead of those being on the sidelines fitting in around racing, they are going to be my life now.
“Any jockey is only as good as the horse they’re riding and I was lucky enough to ride the best, a lot of the best horses there have ever been.
“From 20 years ago here with Imperial Call through to Kemboy today, Kauto Star, Denman, Master Minded, Quevega, Hurricane Fly, Annie Power, Faugheen, Vautour. If you can think of a good horse, there is a very good chance I have ridden him or her.
“Horses made me,” Walsh said to the Racing Post. “They made me good. I was lucky I got a great tuition from my father. I had a great agent in Jennifer [Walsh, sister], who minded me, and I worked for the two best trainers in Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins. Their records speak for themselves.
“Papillon is the one moment which stands out. Papillon in 2000 [Grand National], that was never going to be better for me, ever. That was a fairytale.
“I wouldn’t consider training. Not in this environment. How do you compete with Willie [Mullins], Gordon [Elliott], Joseph [O’Brien]? How could you start from scratch and compete against them? I might have been a jump jockey, and jump jockeys are brave, but I’m not stupid.
“I do enjoy media work and I am looking forward to getting into it more. I’ll have to learn a new trade and start at the bottom. I don’t have a degree in journalism and I’m a long way behind the eight-ball but I always enjoyed learning. I’ll enjoy it.
“I hadn’t said anything to Willie [about retiring today]. I always said I would just get off and say. I hopped off Kemboy and told him and Jackie [Mullins].
“There was a huge difference between the retirements of Richard [Dunwoody] and AP [McCoy]. Richard was forced to retire, whereas AP went out on his own terms.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day, not dreading it. And now it’s here, and I’m happy about it.”
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