You may well have found your way to this page from the overview one about the various family dynasties in the world of horse racing. If not, it’s worth having a look at to get a sense of the manner in which so much of the horse racing industry is about successful families keeping things going for generations.
Here we’re taking a more in-depth look at the Walsh family, which is probably best known because of the unbelievable success as a jockey that Ruby Walsh enjoyed during his career. He’s not the only person with that surname to have found his name in the record books, however, as we’ll explain here. Here’s a quick look at the family:
Amateur jockey and racehorse trainer, Ted Walsh, is the head of the family. He had two children who made a name for themselves in the same industry, with Katie Walsh being a successful jockey in her own right but always over-shadowed by her brother Ruby.
Ted Walsh Jr. is the member of the Walsh family that doesn’t get talked about all that often, but in 2012 he married Nina Carberry, who is also a jump jockey and therefore worthy of a mention as part of the Walsh family tree.
A Look At Their Lives In Horse Racing
Knowing where each member of the Walsh family fits in the family tree is helpful, but now let’s taker a deeper dive on their achievements in horse racing:
There really is no better place to start than with Ruby Walsh, who announced his retirement from the sport on the first of May, 2019. It meant that he was drawing a career to a close that spanned twenty-four years and featured more two and a half thousand winners. Whilst the racing community expressed their appreciation for everything he’d done for the sport, there were more than a few fellow jockeys who would have secretly been pleased to see the back of him!
Born Rupert Walsh but better known as Ruby, he began to make a name for himself when he won the Irish Amateur Jockey title in both 1997 and 1998, with his first coming when he was just eighteen-years-old. If he’d already earned some attention as a teenager then his career was about to go stratospheric. As a twenty-year-old he entered the Grand National for the first time, riding on the back of a horse trained by his father.
Dark Stranger, ridden by Tony McCoy, was the favourite in the race but Papillon, the Walsh-ridden horse, had been backed in from 33/1 to 10/1 on the day of the race, largely thanks to second-place finishes in both the Irish Grand National and the Irish Gold Cup. Walsh rode him well and took the lead four from home, holding off Mely Moss in order to win by one and a quarter lengths and land Ruby one of the biggest prizes in jump racing at his first time of asking.
The father and son didn’t give up the ghost there, going on to win the Irish Grand National with Commanche Court in the same season. It was perfect preparation for Ruby for the 2004/2005 season, during which he would go on to win three out of the four Grand Nationals run around the British isles. His wins came as follows:
- Irish Grand National on Numbersixvalverde
- Welsh Grand National on Silver Birch
- English Grand National on Hedgehunter
Having won the Scottish Grand National on the back of Take Control in 2002, Walsh will undoubtedly have been disappointed that he didn’t get the quadruple; especially as he was only beaten by a short head. The horses weren’t too shabby, either. Numbersixvalverde would go on to win the Grand National at Aintree the year after and Silver Birch would win it the year after that. Whilst Walsh was riding neither of them, the experience they’d have gained under him will have been invaluable.
As with every successful name in jump racing, Walsh has long enjoyed a sound relationship with the Cheltenham Festival. He rode his first winner, Alexander Banquet, in 1998 and went on to be victorious countless times after that. He won the Queen Mother Champion Chase for the first time in 2007 when Azertyuiop got him over the line, following it up with two more wins in the Grade 1 offering thanks to successive victories for the superb Master Minded in 2008 and 2009.
When it comes to the Festival, of course, a jockey is hardly worth their salt if they don’t win the Gold Cup at least once during their career. Walsh did just that when he rode Kauto Star to victory in 2007, repeating the trick on the same horse two years later. That made him one of only a few jockeys to have tasted God Cup glory more than once, joining a list that includes the likes of Tony McCoy, Tommy Carberry and Pat Taafe. The latter, of course, is the race’s most successful ever jockey thanks to his three wins on Arkle and a fourth on Fort Leney.
His double Queen Mother Champion Chase wins on Master Minded show an important part of Walsh’s career: his ability to work with the same horse multiple times and get results from them. He added the Tingle Creek Chase and Sandown Park and the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park to his Gold Cup wins with Kauto Star, for example. Indeed, his partnership with Kauto Star is the most successful that the race has ever seen, with the pair winning it five times between 2006 and 2011.
In terms of a relationship between a jockey and a horse, though, there’s an argument that nothing comes close to Walsh’s relationship with Quevega. The pair won the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle for Willie Mullins for the first time in 2009, which might have been enough for some people. Not Walsh, though, with the Irishman going on to win the race another five times in succession. Six wins in the same race is a record for any horse during the Cheltenham Festival, whilst Walsh himself went on to win it another two times with Vroum Vroum Mag and Benie Des Dieux in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
Look at pretty much any race that takes place during the Cheltenham Festival and you’ll see Ruby Walsh’s name somewhere on the list of winners. In fact, in many of them he’ll be the leading jockey for the race. He’s the joint-best jockey for the Champion Hurdle, for example, matching Tim Molony with four wins. His achievement in that race might just be a touch more impressive, though, given that when Hurricane Fly won it in 2013 after having also won it in 2011 he became the first horse to regain the title for thirty-eight years.
The Cheltenham Festival
Walsh’s love affair with the Festival can’t be overstated. He’s ridden fifty-nine winners at the meeting, including breaking the record by riding seven winners of the four days of the Festival in 2009. As if that wasn’t enough he then repeated the same trick at the 2016 meeting. In 2010, he rode the winner in the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle, thereby officially becoming the jockey with more Festival wins than any other in the meeting’s history. He won the Leading Rider’s Award eleven times out of fourteen at the Festival.
When he rode Kemboy to victory in the Punchestown Gold Cup on the first of May in 2019 it was the two hundred and thirteenth Grade 1 win of his career. Perhaps he felt that was as good as it gets, so he announced his retirement immediately afterwards.
Given the litany of wins for Ruby Walsh during his career, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the biggest racing success of Ted Walsh’s career was being Ruby’s father. Born and raised in County Cork, Ted Walsh based himself in Kill, County Kildare for most of his career. His first at the Cheltenham Festival win came in the Kim Muir in 1974, thanks to Castleruddery. He then went on to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Hilly Way in 1979, as well as another two races during the Festival.
His relationship with Daring Run was possibly something that Ruby learnt from, giving that he rode him to victory in the Aintree Hurdle in both 1981 and 1982, as well as being unlucky to finish third with him in the Champion Hurdle in 1981. Though he won the Irish Amateur Jockey title eleven times, he never thought that racing professionally was the way forward for himself. Instead, he decided to turn his hand to training, where he enjoyed a number of success.
There’s little question that his best accomplishment was with Papillon, who he saw his son Ruby ride to victory in the Grand National in 2000. The father and son team also enjoyed success that year in the Irish Grand National thanks to Commanche Court. That win came three years after the same horse had given him his first win at the Cheltenham Festival as a trainer, when Norman Williamson rode Commanche Court to first place in the Triumph Hurdle.
Whilst it’s fair to say that Ruby gave Ted the most success as a trainer, including a second-place finish behind Best Mate on Commanche Court in 2002, his daughter has also given him some joy on the track over the years. Perhaps her most high-profile finish came in 2012 when she ended up coming third in the Grand National on the back of Seabass, which Ted had trained.
When not training, Ted Walsh made a name for himself as a successful pundit, working with RTE Racing in covering the biggest Irish meetings. The likes of the Dublin Racing Festival, Irish Grand National Festival and flat racing events like the Irish Derby were all enhanced thanks to the work done by Ted Walsh with the channel.
Born on the 18th of December, 1984, Katie began her riding career when she was nineteen and got her first win under her belt when she took Hannon across the line at Gowran Park in 2003. She had previously gained experience on the back of horse by being a successful rider in the world of Eventing, but moving into the world of jump racing was an entirely different kettle of fish for her.
She rode her first two winners in the Cheltenham Festival in 2010, winning the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup with Poker De Sivola on day one before leading Thousand Stars across the line in the County Handicap Hurdle on the final day. Two years later and it was felt that she had enough experience to take part in the Grand National for the first time, taking the Ted Walsh trained Seabass to third place, which is one of the best ever finishes for a female jockey in the race.
Irish Grand National Win
In 2015, she rode Thunder And Roses to victory in the Irish Grand National, becoming just the third female jockey to win the race. The year after, she added the first Grade 1 race of her career to her list of wins when Blow by Blow won the Punchestown Champion INH Flat Race. At the Cheltenham Festival in 2018, she won her third race at the meeting when she took Relegate from the back of the entire field to finish just ahead of the previous leader.
As well as being a successful amateur jockey, Katie Walsh has also worked as a racing ambassador for Aintree Racecourse and the Grand National Festival. She did so for the first time in 2015 and then repeated her service in the two years that followed.
Given that Nina Carberry’s dad is Tommy Carberry, who was a talented jockey in his own right, we could easily have written a page all about the Carberry family. Yet when Nina decided to marry Ruby and Katie Walsh’s brother, Ted Walsh Junior, in February of 2012 she moved herself into one of the most successful families that racing has ever seen.
When Nina Carberry won the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle on the back of Dabiroun in 2005, it was the first time in eighteen years that a race at the Cheltenham Festival had been won by a woman. It was a sign of what was to come from the talented rider, winning the Irish Qualified Rider Champion Award at the end of the 2005-2006 season and then repeating it the year after.
Heads Onthe Ground gave her a Cross Country Handicap Chase win at the Festival in 2007, whilst Garde Champetre gave her back-to-back wins in 2008 and 2009. When she won the same race again on the back of Josies Orders in 2016 she became the race’s most successful jockey to date. As with the rest of the Walsh family, her love affair with the Cheltenham Festival didn’t end there. She won the St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase with On the Fringe in 2015 and 2016.
She also won the Fox Hunters’ Chase at Aintree with On the Fringe in 2015, which came nine years after her first appearance at the course in the Grand National. She took part in the world’s greatest steeplechase six times between 2006 and 2016, finishing it four times. Though she never won the Grand National, she was victorious in the Irish Grand National in 2011 thanks to Organisedconfusion, becoming just the second woman to win the race.
Carberry had her first child in 2017 and when she returned to the track in September of that year she won her first race as a mother when Cask Mate won on the flat at Ballinrobe in the Connacht Tribune. She announced her retirement in April of 2018, having won at the Punchestown Festival on the back of Josies Orders.