Ruby Tuesday! Min and Klassical Dream to kick-start Walsh's week at Punchestown
Ruby Walsh is hungrier than ever before for the Punchestown festival after missing last year with a broken leg, and he could kick off this year's meeting in spectacular fashion on Tuesday thanks to rides on big Grade 1 hopes Klassical Dream, Min and Getabird.
The most successful jockey in Punchestown festival history was forced to watch the five-day feast from the sidelines in 2018, after Al Boum Photo's RSA Chase spill aggravated the same leg injury he sustained the previous November, and he will be hoping to make up for lost time with an incredible book of rides over the five days.
"It's always very frustrating when you miss Punchestown. I think I have missed maybe three throughout my career and last year was tough. I was no addition to anyone really. I gave my opinion when I was asked but I felt useless," Walsh said.
"I'm really looking forward to this one and it looks like Willie has a very strong team for the week. I could have a great book of rides for the week and not ride a winner, though. That's how strong the team will be," he added.
Walsh is hoping Punchestown will start in the same manner as Cheltenham with impressive Supreme winner Klassical Dream no bigger than 8-11 to land the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle on Tuesday, the first Grade 1 of the meeting.
"Klassical Dream is a very, very good horse and he put up a very good performance at Cheltenham. You would like to think that he would be able to follow up," Walsh said.
It was no surprise to see Walsh opt for Min in the BoyleSports Champion Chase following his awesome Aintree performance this month, when he put 20 lengths between himself and Politologue in the Melling Chase, but he does not think it will be as straightforward as the market suggests.
Walsh said: "Min put up a career-best effort at Aintree so how could I not ride him? But it will be very hard to back up that performance with another one. Un De Sceaux is the fresher of the two and he won the race last year so he goes there with plenty of positives, but it would have been very hard to get off Min after what he did at Aintree. That was the best display of his career."
The highlight of the week for many is the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday, where Al Boum Photo, the horse to end Mullins' Gold Cup hoodoo at Cheltenham, clashes with stablemate Kemboy, who destroyed a strong field in the Betway Bowl at Aintree.
Walsh is likely to continue his association with Kemboy, as Paul Townend is set to keep the ride on Al Boum Photo, but the jockey warned not to forget Bellshill.
"It should be a great race and both horses are coming into it on the back of career-best performances. Kemboy was very good at Aintree but so was Al Boum Photo at Cheltenham. I had no hesitation in riding Bellshill over them both in the Gold Cup so I wouldn't forget him either.
"Things didn't go to plan for Bellshill at Cheltenham and I had no option but to pull him up, but it should mean that he will be fresher than the others heading to Punchestown. It should be a great race," Walsh said.
Get exclusive insight from the track and live tipping with our up-to-the-minute service on racingpost.com and the Racing Post mobile app