Ahead of the Dublin Racing Festival this weekend, Ruby Walsh admits equine legend Florida Pearl was his “nemesis”.
The famed racehorse won what is now the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup, the feature race this coming Saturday at Leopardstown, a record four times (1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004) in the hands of three different jockeys.
But Ruby wasn’t one of them, having been forced to miss his chance through injury, leaving the door open for Paul Carberry to take the ride in a series of events that Walsh admits will stick with him forever.
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The two jockeys were reunited on the latest episode in our Racing Rewind series ahead of the Dublin Racing Festival, and when Carberry couldn’t quite recall how he ended up getting the ride on the defending champion Florida Pearl in 2000, who had won the race one year earlier for Richard Dunwoody, Ruby was quick to jump in and remind him.
“I’ll tell you exactly how you got the ride!” he said. “Richard Dunwoody rode him as a bumper horse and then as a novice chaser. Then he retired.
“And I remember this well because I was in Willie Mullins’, obviously, and I went to Pardubice (Czech Republic) to ride Risk of Thunder in the Pardubicka. But I broke my leg on a horse called Shannon Fountain before the race off a running rail – the rails were disjointed, and the horse was lying in on top of the rail. He wouldn’t get off it.
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🏇 DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL REWIND: Ahead of the big weekend at @LeopardstownRC, Paul Carberry sat down with Ruby Walsh and Paddy to chat through his victories in what is now the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup.
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“I hit the rail square and broke my (shin) bone right in the middle.
“I should have been riding him (Florida Pearl) but two weeks later, Paul Carberry rode him in Down Royal (winning the JNWine.com Champion Chase) and kept the ride on him.
“I wasn’t even back riding when he won on him in Leopardstown. But I remember clearly how Paul Carberry got the ride on Florida Pearl!”
Ruby added: “I rode him four times without winning on him. I think I’m probably the only one who never won on him! He (Florida Pearl) was definitely my nemesis, there’s no doubt about that.
“I was second on him in a King George and second on him in a John Durkan. I just never clicked with him.”
Six years after winning the Irish Gold Cup on Florida Pearl, Carberry went on to win it again on board Beef Of Salmon in 2006 for trainer Michael Hourigan.
Ruby finally got glory in the race, winning three times in all, on board Neptune Collonges (2009), Quel Esprit (2012) and Bellshill (2019).
WATCH THE FULL SHOW ON YOUTUBE: Ruby and Paul sit down with Paddy Power to discuss the 2000 and 2006 Irish Gold Cups
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