Racing: Walsh and Nicholls part ways

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RUBY Walsh will no longer be formally attached to the Paul Nicholls stable after it emerged yesterday that the Irishman was stepping down as No 1 jockey to the former champion trainer.

Grand National-winning rider Daryl Jacob has been promoted to the top position at Nicholls’ Ditcheat yard.

Nicholls and the 34-year-old Walsh had struck up one of the most successful partnerships in jumps history, with the great Kauto Star central to the success story. The Irish-based jockey, who had been attached with Nicholls for nearly 11 years, cited travel demands as being one of the chief reasons for the split.

“Daryl takes over as the number one, and I am as delighted for him as I am sad to see Ruby go,” said Nicholls.

“Myself and Ruby have been chatting for the past couple of months. It was clear that the constant travelling to and from Ireland, with his wife Gillian and the girls at home, was becoming a bit of a grind for him. It would have been exhausting for someone young and single, let alone a grey and ageing family man.

“But he was getting up before 5am, and not getting home until after 8pm, when riding over here – before his girls got up in the morning, and after they went to bed most nights – and when you have a young family that must take its toll. So, for personal rather than professional reasons, he has taken the decision to end his near 11-year role as stable jockey at Ditcheat to concentrate on riding in Ireland.”

Walsh, who will remain top jockey with Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins, will still ride for Nicholls in the future. He said: “I felt towards the end of last season that the travelling was starting to take its toll – my family and I were like passing ships in the night.”

Meanwhile, Dawn Approach will face a maximum of 14 opponents in Saturday’s Investec Derby at Epsom.

Jim Bolger’s unbeaten Qipco 2000 Guineas winner has never run over further than a mile but is a short-priced favourite to add another Classic to his record. He could at least face one surprise rival in Aidan O’Brien’s Magician, an easy winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas on Saturday, while German Chopin has been supplemented at a cost of £75,000 by Andreas Wohler.

O’Brien can also call on Derrinstown Trial winner Battle Of Marengo, Newmarket Guineas sixth Mars, unbeaten Chester Vase winner Ruler Of The World, Flying The Flag and Festive Cheer. Andrew Oliver’s First Cornerston is another possible for Ireland along with David Wachman’s Galileo Rock.