Although Walsh rides mainly for Willie Mullins in Ireland, and Mullins is no stranger to sending horses to Cheltenham, it’s County Meath trainer Tony Martin who provides his one ride this afternoon. Walsh is on board Quick Jack in the final race.
It is just a flying visit, as he’s expected to be riding at Punchestown tomorrow, and certainly will be on Sunday. It’s unlikely to be the last we see of him this season, as Mullins will have plenty of runners at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals, and the door remains open for him to ride some of Nicholls’ horses in the major races.
The jockey said he didn’t want to spend so much time travelling between Ireland and England while his two daughters were so young, but that view may change next year. According to the Belfast Telegraph, Mullins wants to have many more runners in Britain, and is even considering opening up a yard across here to enable him to challenge the likes of Nicky Henderson and Nicholls.
He sees Walsh as central to that idea, and in reality, it’s unlikely to happen without major involvement from the jockey. Mullins said, “Now that I have Ruby around all the time, his knowledge of British courses and horses will be a huge help.”
Could this be laying the ground for a sustained tilt at the trainers’ title in Britain next season, and even possibly a competition for the jockeys’ title? It’s probably a bit early to contemplate that as a serious proposition, but I’ll be definitely looking out for developments.