Showing talent from an early age, Walsh won the Irish amateur title twice, in 1996/7 (aged 18) and 1997/8, before turning professional. He won the English Grand National in 2000 at his first attempt, aged 20, on Papillon, a horse trained by his father and owned by Mrs J Maxwell Moran. Father and son then went on to win the Irish Grand National with Commanche Court the same year. In the 2004/5 season Walsh won three of the four Nationals: the Irish on the 2006 Grand National winner, Numbersixvalverde, the Welsh on subsequent 2007 Grand National winner Silver Birch, and the English on Hedgehunter. He rode Cornish Rebel in the Scottish, but was beaten a short long head by Joe's Edge. However, he had earlier success in that race on Take Control in 2002 and he and Tony McCoy are the only jockeys currently riding to have won all four Nationals .
To date Walsh has ridden over 2000 winners including 38 winners at the Cheltenham Festival since his first win in 1998 on Alexander Banquet. These include the 2004 Queen Mother Champion Chase on Azertyuiop, the 2007 and 2009 Cheltenham Gold Cup on the favourite, Kauto Star and two subsequent Queen Mother successes in 2008 and 2009 on the brilliant Master Minded. He also won both the 2006 Tingle Creek Chase and the King George VI Chase on Kauto Star. He repeated the King George feat, again on Kauto Star, in 2007 (just days after returning from injury), 2008 and 2009 when Kauto Star won impressively by 36 lengths. He reclaimed the King George VI Chase in 2011 on board Kauto Star after Long Run won the race in 2010. He won the Hennessy Gold Cup twice, in 2003 on Strong Flow, and in more recent times, 2009 with Denman. He also won the Whitbread Gold Cup twice, in 2001 and 2003 (the latter when it was run as the Attheraces Gold Cup), both times on Ad Hoc. In 2007, Walsh won the inaugural British Horseracing Board Jockeys' Order of Merit award.
Walsh's recent dominance of the jockeys' championship in Ireland is all the more remarkable given that he had a unique riding arrangement with two powerful stables, one on either side of the Irish Sea. Based in Calverstown, County Kildare, where he lives with his wife Gillian, he rides predominantly for Willie Mullins in Ireland, and also spends a substantial proportion of his time riding in England for Somerset-based champion trainer Paul Nicholls, the former trainer of Kauto Star. He also takes the occasional ride for his father, Ted, and a variety of other, mainly Irish, trainers.
In January 2007, Walsh achieved the fastest ever century of winners in Irish jumps racing history aboard Bluestone Lad at Gowran Park. He ended the 2006/07 season with a combined total in Ireland and the UK of 198 winners, higher than any other jockey from either country that year. (This total was later increased to 200 on the disqualification of two horses for positive tests to banned substances. In both instances, Walsh had ridden the subsequently-promoted runners-up.) He repeated this feat in 2007/08, riding his 200th winner on Andreas at Sandown on his penultimate ride of the season. He rode his 1,000th Irish winner, Rare Article, at Sligo in May 2008. In more recent times, he rode My Will into 3rd place in the 2009 Grand National behind 100/1 longshot Mon Mome.
At the 2009 Cheltenham Festival Walsh rode a record-breaking seven winners over the four days. On the second day of the 2010 festival he rode Sanctuaire to victory in the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices Handicap Hurdle and therefore became the jockey with the most wins in the history of the Cheltenham festival.
In March 2011, Walsh rode Hurricane Fly to victory in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, finishing ahead of Peddlers Cross and Oscar Whisky. It was Walsh's first victory in the feature race of the opening day at the Cheltenham Festival.
He was the leading jockey at the Festival in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2013
Irish Jump Racing wins season by season
GB Jump Racing wins season by season
Like many jump jockeys, Walsh has suffered a number of serious injuries, the worst of which was a broken leg sustained in 1999 at Pardubice in the Czech Republic, a course he was visiting in order to compete in the famous Great Pardubice Steeplechase. He later broke the same leg while schooling a horse and was out of action for a total of five months that season, but recovered in time to partner Papillon to win his first Grand National.
Walsh has also fractured his wrist twice, dislocated one hip and fractured the other, cracked his elbow, dislocated both shoulders and suffered cracked and badly bruised vertebrae. A fall at the Paddy Power meeting at Cheltenham in November 2008 resulted in Walsh having his spleen removed in an emergency operation. He returned to the saddle merely 27 days later.
Walsh fractured his left ankle during a fall from the ill-fated Imperial Hills, trained by Willie Mullins at Killarney in May 2009. During his time off he was present to saddle Sesenta for Willie Mullins in the Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot.
During the run-up to the 2010 Grand National he broke his left arm after a fall from Celestial Halo. His horse fell and they both seemed to have got away unscathed, but a horse racing behind them landed on his arm while he was on the floor, breaking it in two places.
As in 2010, he suffered an injury in the same race in 2012 after a fall from Zarkander which ruled him out of the 2012 Grand National. Both he and Zarkander seemed to be ok after the fall, but after visiting the medical room after making his way back to the jockeys room, the doctors ruled that he was not fit to race on On His Own.
In May 2013 it was announced that Ruby Walsh and Paul Nicholls split however they both insist they parted on good terms and Ruby would continue to ride some of his horses in the future. This will enable Ruby to have more rides with Willie Mullins.
Ruby became a dad for the first time when his wife Gillian gave birth to a baby girl, Isabelle, in October 2009.
- His sister Katie Walsh is also one of the top female jockeys.
- His brother Ted Walsh Junior is married to female jockey Nina Carberry.
References in Popular Culture
Ruby Walsh is mentioned in a song by the famous singer/songwriter Christy Moore called "The Ballad of Ruby Walsh," which appears on his album "Listen." The song is based on Christy's real life experience watching Ruby jockey at the Galway races.
Ruby Walsh featured in a TG4 documentary called "Jump Boys". It followed the journeys of Ruby Walsh, Barry Geraghty and Davy Russell over the course of the 2011/12 season. It aired on 28rh November 2012. He has also occasionally worked as a racing pundit for RTÉ when he was injured.
- goracing profile Ruby Walsh
- 'National: Quote ... unquote'
- "Cheltenham Festival: Hurricane Fly wins Champion Hurdle". BBC Sport. 2011-03-15. Retrieved 2011-03-15.
- Irreplaceable Ruby Walsh takes it all in his stride