Ruby Walsh cancels rides in wake of whip ban
Ruby walsh reacted to the ban that rules him out of the Down Royal Festival’s JNwine.com Champion Chase by last night cancelling two planned trips to Britain this week.
Walsh was hit with a five-day ban at Aintree on Saturday for breaching the new whip rules — by a single stroke — that are in place in Great Britain but not in Ireland.
Walsh’s ban is from November 5 to 9, forcing him out of the €140,000 Down Royal Festival feature on Saturday week.
The Kildare native won the race last year on the great Kauto Star.
“I know I’m not going to Chepstow on Tuesday and I won’t be in Wetherby on Friday,” he said.
“I'll have to have a look at the declarations for the Charlie Hall (on Saturday at Wetherby) before I decide whether I’m going to go and ride Poquelin or not,” he said.
“I'm facing a 10-day suspension next time I offend.
“Every ride I take from now on in the UK has to be extremely calculated. It has to be worth the risk. In the UK, for the prize-money that's there, it's not worth the risk.
“I've got too many commitments to (trainers) Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls to be doing that.”
Walsh picked up a five-day ban for striking Edgardo Sol nine times — one more than the eight strikes that the new whip rules allow — when winning at Aintree, a suspension that almost sparked a walk-out by his fellow jockeys.
“What I did was instinctive and I was even counting in my head. I counted eight, but rules are rules.
“The rule is wrong. That’s the way I feel about it.
“The rules are well regulated here in Ireland. They are discretionary and common sense is used.
“I think that is the bit that is missing in England.
“Common sense seems to have gone out of the window,” he added.
Walsh rides for British champion trainer Paul Nicholls who has three runners in the JNwine.com Champion Chase, including Sir Alex Ferguson’s What A Friend, and is devastated to be losing the services of his jockey for the big race.
“Nice day with three winners ruined by Ruby’s five-day ban after awesome ride on Edgardo Sol,” said Nicholls on his Twitter account.
Although Walsh will be available for the Down Royal Festival’s opening day — Friday, November 4 — he misses the opportunity to win the feature race for a fourth time in five years, following two victories on Kauto Star and one on Taranis.
Walsh certainly had mixed fortunes at last year’s Down Royal Festival.
An hour after the elation of riding Kauto Star to victory in the big race, Walsh suffered a crashing fall in a late race in which he sustained a broken leg.
Ironically, Walsh visited Down Royal on Friday, the day before picking up his ban, for the launch of the track’s ‘Hoof of Fame’ which marks his JNwine.com Champion Chase exploits on Kauto Star.