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Walsh Showed 'His Steel' After One Of Cheltenham's Most Dramatic Moments

Walsh Showed 'His Steel' After One Of Cheltenham's Most Dramatic Moments
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Davy Russell believes Ruby Walsh really showed "his steel" in how the dealt with Annie Power falling at the last in the 2015 Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The horse looked to be heading for an easy victory when disaster struck for Walsh, trainer Willie Mullins, and all those who had backed her to win the race for the second consecutive year.

Walsh and Mullins already had three victories on the opening day of that Cheltenham festival with Douvan, Un De Sceaux, and Faugheen all obliging. Annie Power, red hot 1/2 favourite, was expected to be the fourth.

"I would say that couldn't have been easy on him," fellow jockey Russell says about Walsh in a new episode of TG4 series Laochra Na Rásaíochta which focuses on Mullins's Champion Hurdle winning horses. The show airs at 8pm on March 8th.

"Well, I know, it definitely couldn't have been easy on him, but I mean, mentally. By Jaysus, he showed his steel after that. That's a sign of a man.

"He never complained, and I'm convinced the reason she did it was the shadow in front of the hurdle. I rode there the same day, and I know there was. He never once blamed it, never once said it.

"I never asked him afterwards. I don't know what he'd say now, but I'd love for someone to ask him. I bet you, he still wouldn't blame the shadow. It's just one of those things."


ruby walsh annie power fall 2015 cheltenham

10 March 2015; Jockey Ruby Walsh looks on after being dismounted from Annie Power at the final fence in the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle. Cheltenham Racing Festival 2015, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, England. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Asked about the part the shadow had to play in Annie Power's fall, Walsh simply says, "What could you do? You can't change what's happened. She quicked up off the bend to go and win. She took off too early... and didn't get there. It's as simple as that."


Ruby Walsh's father Ted says his son "got plenty of old stick in the media" about the fall.


"Not that it bothered him too much because there was nothing you could do - she fell," Ted Walsh continues.

"He didn't put her on the ground, or trip her up, or go the wrong side of the flag. He was sorry because he was going to ride a four-timer. He was going to be the first jockey to ever ride a four-timer. It was the least important of the winners, as such, and he was disappointed with that."


'I'd say we were the only happy people in Cheltenham'

Despite Annie Power's fall, a Mullins horse still won the race with Paul Townend riding Glens Melody to victory.

"I was going out with the belief that Annie Power would probably win, and if something happened, I'd a good ride that I could possibly pick up the pieces," Townend says during the show.

"Ruby rounds off the bend, quickens up on Annie, and I suppose I said to myself, 'Well there he goes now. I think I have enough left in the tank, I'll be second'. I couldn't believe it when I saw them tip up. For a second, I probably froze, panicked, and didn't know what was after happening.

"It felt like everything just stopped for a second. I couldn't believe it as much as anyone. Thankfully, I got my eye back on the job quick enough to get to the line in front.


"I was delighted. I remember the girl leading her up, Linda, was over the moon. We got back in, and Fiona McStay, her owner, was delighted. I'd say we were the only happy people in Cheltenham."

ruby walsh annie power fall 2015 cheltenham

15 March 2016; Annie Power, with Ruby Walsh up, on their way to winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy. Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE

A year following the fall, Annie Power returned to winning ways at Cheltenham. Though, it was not in the Mare's Hurdle as had initially been expected. Instead, Walsh saddled her up in the Champion Hurdle, and won.

"Her last two performances were the Champion Hurdle and the race in Aintree," says Walsh about the horse which won 15 or her 17 races.

"They were the two days that cemented her brilliance. She was a brave jumper - didn't have the same accuracy as Hurricane Fly - but she was brave, and had some engine. I loved her - she was deadly."

See Also: 1992 Donegal Captain Had 'Rough Patch' After Retiring From Football

ruby walsh annie power fall 2015 cheltenham

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