May 27, 2013

End of an Era for the Nicholls’ and Walsh Collaboration

By Conor PhillipsRyan Air Chase Cheltenham 2014

The illustrious partnership between Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh is not only one of the best in recent years of horse racing, but one that will be deeply engraved into the history of this great sport.

The story broke last night that it would sadly be coming to an end after 11 fantastic years of success together. Ruby joined Nicholls’ yard in 2002 and has since enjoyed multiple successes in the top Chases as well as twice winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup aboard Kauto Star for Nicholls.

The 34-year-old jockey has rode some of the best and most well known horses in the sport of recent years thanks to Nicholls; including Denman, Master Minded, Twist Magic, as well as the current greats like Big Bucks and Silviniaco Conti.

Ruby is sure to continue to ride horses for the 7-time champion trainer, however Paddy Power are offering a tempting 4/1 for Ruby to ride a winner for him at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

As well as being stable jockey for Nicholls, the Irishman is also number one for Willie Mullins in Ireland, where he has enjoyed success, winning 8 Irish jump jockey championships. Ruby never surpassed the incredible AP McCoy’s amount of wins in England to win the UK version, however he often achieved better winning percentages.

The focus will now be in Ireland though, where Ruby will continue his role as stable jockey for Mullins in a bid to win back the Irish Championship from fellow jockey, Davy Russell.

Ruby’s last win came in the 2009/10 season, but now he will be able to concentrate more on the Irish season. Boylesports are offering best price of 4/9 for Ruby to regain the championship now he has dedicated himself to Irish Racing, with Paddy Power as short as 1/3. Stan James offer 2/1 for second favourite Davy Russell and the 2010/11 winner Paul Townend is 20/1.

This is a massive blow for Nicholls, but at the same time, he will respect the decision of Ruby and understand that he has done it for the correct reasons, which are for Ruby to focus on family life.

And with the great loss, comes a massive chance for Daryl Jacob, who will now take the stable jockey role in Nicholls’ Somerset-based stables. Jacob’s greatest success came in the 2012 Grand National when riding Neptune Collonges to a superb victory, defying odds of 33/1 for Nicholls.

Jacob is currently fourth favourite to take the UK Jumps Championship with Paddy Power offering a price of 33/1. A feat that will take an incredible effort, to stop the greatest jockey of all time AP McCoy, who has an undisputed 18 wins to his name.

Ladbrokes are now 1/2 for Jacob to ride more than 100 winners, whilst Stan James are as short as 5/6 for him to cross the line first over 107 times during the campaign.

The 30-year-old will now have the chance to ride Big Buck’s, Siviniaco Conti, Zarkander and Al Ferof among others, providing him with a real chance to leave a stamp of his on the sport as a whole.

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