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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Ted Walsh opens up on 'torture' of watching Ruby's Cheltenham Festival fall

Ted Walsh: torture of watching his son Ruby's fall at Cheltenham
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Ted Walsh has opened up on the "torture" of a jockey's parent watching their children suffer heavy falls after son Ruby aggravated the tibia fracture he had just returned from when Al Boum Photo fell in Wednesday's RSA Chase. 

The Cheltenham Festival's most successful rider faces a number of weeks on the sidelines, with Willie Mullins expressing the hope that his stable jockey would be back in time for the Punchestown festival at the end of April. He is due to see his specialist next week to ascertain how long his recovery might take.

Speaking on RTE radio on Thursday morning, the rider's father, who works as a racing analyst for the state broadcaster, said he knew his son was in trouble when he watched him get up after the fall.

He said: "Nine times out of ten they get up and shake themselves off. But I knew when he got up, and he went down again, there was a bit more to it. It's torture for everybody.

"We're no different than any other parent. To me he's still only a kid. You always get a shock.

"We take it to heart. We appreciate the great days and feel very sad on the bad days. You know the risks that are there."

Ruby Walsh: heavy fall on Wednesday ruled him out of rest of festival
Leading rider at the festival 11 times, Walsh took his winner tally to 58 when Footpad and Benie Des Dieux obliged on Tuesday. 

"He's disappointed more than anything else," his father said of the multiple champion's mindset. "The mental torture of missing the rest of Cheltenham, and maybe having to sit out a couple of more weeks for recovery, is the worst part of it.

"The actual injury, you can put it aside and say, 'That's it'."

He also rejected any suggestion his 38-year-old son might retire.

"It's not too bad," he said. "He's aggravated the old injury. The doctors in Gloucester Hospital were very positive about. It looks like it's not too bad. 

"When you say to yourself, 'I don't love this any more', then it's time to pack in, but who'd want to get out of something you love as much as that?"

On a day of mixed emotions for the family, Katie Walsh departed with her third festival winner when driving Relegate to victory in the Champion Bumper, for which she received a six-day whip ban.

In emotional interviews afterwards she spoke of her sadness at her brother's latest injury in a career littered with them, but also of her delight he had not been more seriously hurt.

"Katie's very close to Ruby," said Walsh snr. "She knew how much hardship he'd gone through physically to get himself in shape to be able to perform at the highest level and then come and prove it on Tuesday, the way he rode. It's life, isn't it?"

Thursday's Cheltenham Festival race card

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We're no different than any other parent. To me he's still only a kid. You always get a shock
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