Few families can claim to be a dynasty in their chosen sport. However, alongside the Mullins family, the Walsh’s have been in the business for decades, with multiple generations taking on the horse racing world.
Born in 1950, Ted Walsh was an Irish amateur jockey and as a rider, won 4 Cheltenham Festival races.
He bagged his first win at the Festival in 1974 in the Kim Muir on Castleruddery. He then went on to win the 1979 Queen Mother Champion Chase on Hilly Way with his last in the 1986 Foxhunter Chase on Attitude adjuster.
He won the Irish amateur jockeys title 11 times before hanging up his saddle to take up training.
By 2000 he was winning the world’s most famous race when training Papillon to win the Grand National ridden by his son Ruby Walsh.
Ruby Walsh Papillon
By their own admission, on their recent Grand National Gogglebox trip down Grand National memory lane, Papillon gave the Walsh family the greatest day in their lives.
Named after the Steve McQueen film, Papillon was led up to the parade ring by both Katie and Ted Walsh before being ridden by brother Ruby.
In a fairytale style ending, he had started the day with odds of 33–1 but was backed down to 10-1 by the time the race began.
It was also the first ever ride in the race for the then 20-year-old jockey Ruby Walsh.
He went on to become one of the greatest jockeys of all time and in the 2004/05 season won three of the four Nationals: the Irish on Numbersixvalverde, the Welsh on Silver Birch, and the English on Hedgehunter.
Katie Walsh Seabass
In 2012 Ted Walsh saddled Seabass for the Aintree Grand National ridden by daughter Katie Walsh.
By then she had already won two Cheltenham winners, both in 2010. The first was on Poker De Sivola in the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup, the second on Thousand Stars in the County Handicap Hurdle.
A hugely popular jockey, she made her Grand National debut on Seabass and became the first female jockey to go off as the race favourite.
Despite being in contention right up until the last, she was pipped to the post by Sunnyhillboy and Neptune Collonges.
She finished third, which remained the best finish achieved by a female jockey to that date.
In 2015 she won the Irish Grand National on Thunder And Roses for owners Gigginstown.
Any Second Now
To come so near yet so far to a second Grand National win must be incredibly difficult. Especially when it not only happens once, but twice!
In 2021 Ted Walsh saddled Any Second Now for the Grand National. On great form, he went off as a short priced favourite for the race on odds of 15/2.
Owned by JP McManus and ridden by Mark Walsh hopes were high but when Double Shuffle, ridden by Jonathan Burke, fell inwards he hampered Any Second Now.
Despite the obstacle, Walsh kept his composure and rallied to the last but ultimately had to be satisfied with third place.
Returning in 2022, this was Any Second Now’s best chance to redeem himself. Going off as the race favourite he battled all the way to the finish line but couldn’t keep up with the seven-year-old novice, Noble Yeats, ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen.
Understandably gutted by the result, following the race Ted Walsh said: “To get that close it’s a sickener, but equally it’s a great out for the Waley-Cohen family, and seeing the father going down the track to meet his son in tears.
“Mark said he missed the break, but that he jumped and travelled well. I thought jumping the last he might get there, but the other horse has outstayed us from the elbow. I’ve seen a lot happen from the elbow, including Crisp getting caught by Red Rum.
“Unfortunately for us the post is another 100 yards away, and that’s where you get paid.”
Future Walsh Grand Nationals
There is no disputing that the Walsh family are simply one of the greatest to grace the sport. However with both Ruby and Katie now retired as jockeys, it will come down to the training if they want to win another Grand National.
Katie is married race horse trainer Ross O’Sullivan who entered Baie Des Isles in 2018 to finish in 12th place. Her sister-in-law is the Irish jockey Nina Carberry, who married Walsh’s brother Ted Walsh Junior.
With horse racing still the dominant force in all of their lives, it won’t be long before we see another National winner heading back to Kildare in Ireland.