Having recuperated from a crushing leg injury at the Cheltenham Festival last March, the 12-time Irish champion jockey was sidelined once again in late August when a fall from Sapphire Lady saw him suffer severe bruising to his ribs and vertebrae.
“There was bruising around the back of my vertebrae on the outside of my spinal canal. (The doctors) wanted the bruising to go away before they’d let me ride again,” he told us.
“Your spine is like your brain, they’re about the only two things doctors can’t fix, so you have to listen to that and do what you’re told. That injury just meant I had no chance of being champion jockey. I had missed another eight weeks on top of what I’d missed at the start of the season. There wasn’t enough racing left by the time I’d returned to get me to the required numbers you need to be champion jockey. That’s probably added to me being more selective.”
He adds: “I can’t be champion jockey, but Paul Townend can. We work in the same place. All I can do is stop him being champion jockey and I’m not that selfish.”
However, with only 10 wins separating the current protagonists, Paul Townend, Rachael Blackmore and Davy Russell, as they battle it out in the jockey championship, he adds: “Unfortunately, unlike the flat, in jump racing they’re all only one fall away from having no chance. If any one of them gets an injury, they’re out of it.”
A staggering 11 racing meetings are scheduled to take place across Ireland and the UK on St Stephen’s Day, including the King George VI Chase at Kempton, a race Ruby has won five times on Kauto Star.
But he revealed that he could find himself in the most unlikely of places due to Getabird’s entry in the Grade 1 Novice Chase at Limerick on December 26th. However he returns for Paddy Power Chase Day at Leopardstown on December 27th, the second of a bumper four-days of racing at the Christmas Festival at the Dublin track – which includes the most valuable prize in Ireland over Christmas, The Paddy Power Steeplechase, worth €200,000.
With Footpad also entered to run on the same day, in the Grade 1 Paddy’s Rewards Club “Sugar Paddy” Chase, Ruby will be hoping Santa delivers rain, and lots of it, in the interim.
“He’s back in full work and looks to be in good order. Qasim Raza, who rides him at home, is very happy with him. He’s schooled well since Naas and he’s in great nick. It’ll depend on the weather. God knows what Leopardstown will be like. It needs to keep raining,” he said.