Grand National-winning jockey and legend of racing Ruby Walsh retires after victory in Punchestown Gold Cup on Kemboy

Ruby Walsh wins the Grand National on Hedgehunter in 2005. The horse was owned by Preston North End supremo Trevor Hemmings
Ruby Walsh wins the Grand National on Hedgehunter in 2005. The horse was owned by Preston North End supremo Trevor Hemmings
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Ruby Walsh announced his retirement from the saddle after winning the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on Kemboy this afternoon.

The 39-year-old rider decided to end his brilliant career in the saddle following a two-length victory aboard Willie Mullins' charge in the Grade One event.

Walsh was seen to wave goodbye to the Punchestown crowd after Kemboy saw off the Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo in fine style.

He retires having ridden over 2,500 winners and with more Cheltenham Festival successes to his name than any other rider in history.

At one point he had the best of both worlds riding as main jockey to Paul Nicholls in Britain and Willie Mullins in Ireland, before deciding to spend more time at home.

He really burst on to the scene when winning the 2000 Grand National on Papillon, trained by his father, Ted. He would also win the race on Mullins' Hedgehunter in 2005 - owned by Preston North End owner Trevor Hemmings.

Perhaps the two horses who Walsh will be most remembered for, though, were the two-time Champion Hurdle hero Hurricane Fly and the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kauto Star.

Paul Nicholls trained Kauto Star and Walsh was aboard for each of his five King George VI Chase wins, as well as his Festival triumphs among numerous other wins.

He said: "The relationship with Kauto Star obviously particularly comes to mind. We had some amazing days with him, all the King Georges, the Gold Cups.

"We had some fantastic horses at that time - Denman, Neptune Collonges, Big Bucks, Master Minded - they were all just great days.

"I thought when I saw him ride that winner that I wouldn't be surprised if he called it a day after that, and it's just great to see him go out doing what he does best.

"He's been a fantastic jockey, a fantastic ambassador for the sport and he's just a great man. He's one of the best jockeys ever to ride for us and will always be a friend.

"I just wish him all the best and I'm thrilled to see him go out like this, in one piece with no more injuries."