Ruby Walsh on reaching out to Stephen O’Donnell after devastating leg break

As Ruby continues to recover from his own spell on the side lines, he reveals what makes him the comeback king...


A friend of mine asked me to give Stephen O’Donnell, the Dundalk footballer, a ring. He said Stephen was a racing fan and that he’d suffered a pretty bad leg break.

I’ve had plenty of hassle with leg breaks – but I don’t have to run! Obviously for a footballer it’s even more disappointing, especially with the way the League of Ireland is now and the fact that the campaign is in full flow.

But I had a good chat with Stephen. I guess it’s always nice to talk to someone who’s been in a similar position and can explain to you that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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But a broken leg is such a common thing with jockeys. I would have followed the stories of other jockeys who it had happened to and read about their comeback.

I remember reading Peter Scudamore’s autobiography as a kid where he described breaking his leg for a second time. The first time he broke it he never took his boot off, and the pain of getting the boot off when he cooled down.

The second time he broke it he took his own boot off before he left the track – that was something I always did. Anytime I broke my leg after that I always took my own boot off before I left the track.

But a broken leg is not a common thing in football.

With age, and experience you know that you’re going to get back, you’re not worried about ‘will I, won’t I’. If you follow the rehab and give it enough time, you will get back.

I know I’m not riding this weekend in France, but I know it’s only a matter of time before I do pass the doctor, so you don’t have that anxious worry that you might have had as a young lad. I know it can be done.

Going through rehab and physio I’ve met lots of different sports stars in different places. We all experience the same thing. It’s not so much the physical pain, it’s the mental pain of what you’re missing out on and every sportsperson suffers the same thing.

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