Ireland's greatest Ruby Walsh holds solid claims as best jump jockey ever
Among jump jockeys Ruby Walsh is the winningmost rider of all time in Ireland, and arguably the greatest of all time anywhere in the world.
He won 2,756 races over jumps in Ireland and Britain combined, which ranks him third behind Sir Anthony McCoy (4,348) and Richard Johnson (3,623). But for sheer quality of winners he was in a class of his own.
Walsh's Irish score of 1,980 eclipsed the previous record of 1,188 by Charlie Swan, and he was champion jump jockey 12 times, beating the Irish record of ten titles by Frank Berry.
He rode four of the greatest jumpers in the history of the sport – Kauto Star, Denman, Master Minded and Big Buck's, all of them trained by Paul Nicholls.
Dual Gold Cup winner Kauto Star was the greatest steeplechaser ridden by any jockey since Arkle and, when winning the fourth of his five King George VI Chases by 36 lengths in 2009, the gelding achieved a Racing Post Rating of 191, the highest awarded since RPRs started in 1988.
Walsh rode Denman to a Hennessy success, Master Minded to two Champion Chase victories, and Big Buck's in 16 of his record sequence of wins. In addition, he rode Hurricane Fly to 16 of his record number of Grade 1 triumphs.
Those paragons, plus Azertyuiop, Vautour, Douvan, Faugheen, Annie Power and six-time mares' hurdle scorer Quevega, all contributed to his record 59 victories at the Cheltenham Festival, including a record five in the World/Stayers' Hurdle and a record-equalling four in the Champion Hurdle. He was the leading jockey at the meeting a record 11 times, winning a record seven races in 2009 and 2016.
Walsh was such a frequent traveller across the Irish Sea that he would have been champion jockey three times in Britain if the title had been decided on prize-money.
Not only that, but he was a global figure, landing his most valuable victory in Japan's Nakayama Grand Jump and also winning big races in France, Australia and the US.
McCoy never won outside Britain and Ireland, and the quantity of his winners was not matched by their quality. He won only 31 races at the Cheltenham Festival, where he was the leading jockey just twice, and none of his mounts achieved a rating higher than 181.
If statistics mean anything, McCoy was the greatest jump jockey of all time. But Walsh also has strong claims.
Don't miss all of the follow-up to Ruby Walsh's retirement in Thursday's special edition of the Racing Post