Walsh: I never contemplated retirement and I’m 100 per cent fit for Galway
Ruby Walsh on Friday insisted he is 100 per cent fit for his belated return to action at the Galway festival on Monday and said he had never considered retiring despite a recurrence of a broken leg keeping him sidelined for months longer than he anticipated.
The 39-year-old rider cannot wait to return to the fray four and a half months after his fall from Al Boum Photo in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham and added he was ready to take Galway by storm.
Walsh, speaking as a Paddy Power ambassador, said: "I never contemplated retirement. I certainly didn't think it would take me four and half months to get me back but retirement was never an issue.
"It was never up for discussion and my wife Gillian never broached the subject with me. I was trying to convince myself the leg wasn’t broken again but deep down I suppose I knew it was."
He continued: "I'm 39. AP [McCoy] retired at 41, Noel Fehily is still going strong at 42 and sure what age was Andrew Thornton when he stopped the other day? I still think I've a good few years left in me yet, although I am not stupid enough to think there is more ahead of me than behind me.
"I am still as hungry as ever and would love to find another great horse. I suppose my main goal now would be to try to get on the next Hurricane Fly or Kauto Star – that would be magic."
A shorter-term goal might be a third Galway Plate success or a second Galway Hurdle triumph and he is spoilt for choice with Willie Mullins responsible for the favourite in both races.
Walsh said: "Willie has his team in some order. They are all running incredibly well and his strike-rate is incredible at the moment. I'm not sure exactly who I will ride in the Plate yet, the likes of Alelchi Inois and Ballycasey have a lot of weight and it's hard to know how much improvement they have in them. Then you have Haymount, Koshari, Saturnas and Patricks Park, who probably have better profiles.
"Patricks Park won a couple of nice handicaps and technically he is a second-season novice, so you'd like to think he would be in the mix.
"As regards the Galway Hurdle, Willie has quite a few in that. The one worry I have for Whiskey Sour is that he's not very big and if he had to carry a big weight it might not suit him."
Regarding the Irish jump jockeys’ championship, Walsh thinks Rachael Blackmore might be tougher to catch than some are saying and believes she can win the title, if not this year then in the future.
He said: "Rachael is riding incredibly well and not leaving anything behind her. She is fiercely competitive too. Momentum is huge in a title race and she has all the momentum. She has already ridden 30 winners and if she an keep going the way she is going she won’t be easily caught.
"It is only a matter of time before a woman is champion jockey. I expect women to be more to the fore in years to come."
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