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Ruby Walsh: Career Profile

Ruby Walsh has ridden the winner of all four Nationals
Ruby Walsh has ridden the winner of all four Nationals
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With Cheltenham now done and dusted, attention quickly turns to the next iconic race in the National Hunt calendar, the Grand National. Russell Smith begins a new series of profiles, on some of the leading jockeys at Aintree, with Ruby Walsh...

"A supreme horseman, his skills in the saddle are no better showcased though than over the famous spruce fences at Aintree. Walsh won the world's greatest steeplechase at his first attempt in 2000 at the age of 20 on 10/1 shot Papillon, trained by his father, Ted, at Kill in County Kildare."

Fresh from equalling his own record of seven winners at a single Cheltenham Festival, Ruby Walsh is set to head to Aintree next month in search of more Crabbie's Grand National glory.

The 36-year-old produced another riding masterclass at Prestbury Park with his string of successes including brilliant victories aboard Annie Power in the Stan James Champion Hurdle and Vautour in the Ryanair Chase.

It saw the ten-times Irish champion jumps jockey become the first rider to clock up a half-century of winners at the Festival, with his total now standing at 52.

A supreme horseman, his skills in the saddle are no better showcased though than over the famous spruce fences at Aintree. Walsh won the world's greatest steeplechase at his first attempt in 2000 at the age of 20 on 10/1 shot Papillon, trained by his father, Ted, at Kill in County Kildare.

And five years later he repeated the feat by powering 7/1 favourite Hedgehunter home for Willie Mullins's Closutton stables in Bagenalstown, County Carlow.

Walsh has also finished second on Hedgehunter in 2006 as well as being third on My Will in 2009 and fourth on Papillon and Kingsmark in 2001 and 2002 respectively.

This year he has yet to commit to a National mount, although the Mullins-trained Boston Bob - a 40/1 shot with Betfair - looks a likely candidate after bouncing back to form under Walsh with a head success over stablemate On His Own in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse last month.

Walsh was the Irish champion amateur jockey twice - in 1996-97 and the following season - before turning professional.

His qualities were soon spotted by Mullins, and they quickly formed a successful partnership with the rider's first Cheltenham Festival winner coming on Alexander Banquet in the 1998 Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

Across the Irish Sea, Paul Nicholls had also become aware of Walsh's burgeoning talent and in 2002 the jockey agreed an arrangement whereby he would ride for both the Somerset trainer and Mullins.

It saw Walsh and Nicholls collect a host of big-race wins with some of the sport's greatest horses.

Most notable among these was Kauto Star, who captured the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2007 and 2009 as well as a record-breaking five King George VI Chase wins at Kempton.

Walsh won the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on Azertyuiop in 2004 and plundered the prize again with Master Minded posting back-to-back victories in 2008 and 2009.

Big Buck's was another of his superstar rides for Nicholls, landing four Ladbrokes World Hurdles at Prestbury Park from 2009-2012.

Meanwhile, Mullins gave him the leg up to land the Champion Hurdle on Hurricane Fly in 2011 and 2013, and aboard Faugheen in 2015.

Walsh is also associated at Cheltenham with the Mullins-trained mare Quevega, who claimed the OLBG Mares' Hurdle a remarkable six successive times from 2009-2014.

Away from the Festival, he has ridden the winners of all four Nationals - with victories in the Irish on Commanche Court (2000) and Numbersixvalverde (2005), the Scottish on Take Control (2002) and the Welsh aboard Silver Birch (2004).

He has also landed Newbury's Hennessy Gold Cup twice on Strong Flow (2003) and Denman (2009), while he gained a famous success overseas last August on Bashboy in the Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat, Australia.

Walsh, who lives at Calverstown in County Kildare, split with Nicholls in May 2013 to spend more time in Ireland with his young family.

Now with more than 2,400 winners under his belt and such an impressive record at Aintree, whatever he rides in this year's National on April 9 is bound to be of interest.

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