Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls talks exclusively to betting.betfair to confirm that Ruby Walsh will mainly ride in Ireland this season, and that Daryl Jacob will be the number one jockey at Ditcheat...
"And he texted back: “Magic, they were. And you made the success I have had, which made today the hardest call I have ever made. Thanks for the way you reacted, a gentleman and a friend.”"
In many ways we are entering into a new era here at Ditcheat, and that is further underlined by today's news, broken in his Irish Examiner column, that Ruby (Walsh) won't be first jockey here this season.
Daryl (Jacob) takes over as the number one, and I am as delighted for him as I am sad to see Ruby go; Daryl has earned his chance.
Myself and Ruby have been chatting for the past couple of months. It was clear that the constant travelling to and from Ireland, with his wife Gillian and the girls at home, was becoming a bit of a grind for him.
It would have been exhausting for someone young and single, let alone a grey and ageing family man!!!
But he was getting up before 5am, and not getting home til after 8pm, when riding over here - before his girls got up in the morning, and after they went to bed most nights - and when you have a young family that must really take its toll.
So, for personal rather than professional reasons, he has taken the decision to end his near 11-year role as stable jockey at Ditcheat, having started here in October 2002, to concentrate on riding in Ireland.
He came over to explain his decision on Saturday, and we both agreed it was the best way forward in the circumstances.
After he had left for the airport, I texted him to say: "Thanks for all the magic moments."
And he texted back: "Magic, they were. And you made the success I have had, which made today the hardest call I have ever made. Thanks for the way you reacted, a gentleman and a friend."
That really meant a lot to me. He and his family have been coming to Ditcheat for as long as I can remember, and the bond our families have formed down the years will remain, whatever happens.
And it isn't as if he is severing all his ties here at Ditcheat anyway, as he will continue to ride for us this season and in the future when he is needed and when he is available. Of course he will.
You don't let someone of Ruby's calibre - he must have ridden 600-odd winners for us and been instrumental in nurturing the careers of Kauto Star, Denman, Master Minded and Neptune Collonges, as well as our current stars Big Buck's, Silviniaco Conti, Zarkandar and Al Ferof - go un-used.
Ruby had a difficult and unenviable job trying to satisfy both myself and Willie (Mullins) down the years, so at least that's another weight off his mind, as well as the travelling!
Above all, though, we respect each other and are more friends than anything else.
That brief text exchange on Saturday told you that.