Ruby Walsh: Here’s my top 10 greatest national hunt performances during my career

Some of these are simply sublime.

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1.Master Minded – 2008 Queen Mother Champion Chase

There were so many things against him that day. He’d so few runs over fences in England. The reigning champ Voy Por Ustedes was in there and they went a ferocious gallop. At the last ditch, there were only Master Minded and Voy Por Ustedes left. And from there, Master Minded just went further and further and further away.

He was every bit as impressive as Sprinter Sacre ever was but the difference here was that Master Minded was only a five-year-old. Simon Holt, the commentator that day, was blown away but everybody was blown away that day. I couldn’t believe it when I looked back either. For a horse on a single day for a single performance, that was the best performance I saw during my career.

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2. Sprinter Sacre – 2013 Melling Chase

For me, this day in Aintree was his best performance. I’m not sure his Champion Chase win that year was as strong as this race. He stepped up to 2m4f to take on Cue Card, who’d won the Ryanair, and Flemenstar, who was the big Irish hope. As impressive as he was at Cheltenham, I think he was better this day against better horses. He never came off the bridle either and at this time of his life, Sprinter Sacre was unbeatable.

3. Apple’s Jade – 2018 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle

Wicklow Brave jumped out with her and they went a really good gallop. I was riding Limini and I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is a 2m4f race, they can not keep this up’. Keep it up? At Ballyhack, they were going further and further clear. I said to myself, ‘ah, they’ll crack.’ She never cracked and she won by 20 lengths. It was phenomenal. Some say the day in Aintree as a juvenile was her best run but to me, that day in Fairyhouse was her greatest performance.

4. Faugheen – 2016 Irish Champion Hurdle

This was a hell of a good race as you had Nichols Canyon, who’d beaten Faugheen in the Morgiana Hurdle, and Arctic Fire, who had been second in the previous year’s Champion Hurdle. That day, Faugheen and Nichols Canyon jumped out and they went at it toe-for-toe every step of the way. Come the winning post, Faugheen had won by 15 lengths over Arctic Fire with Nichols Canyon a further 13 lengths back in third. On the book, this was Faugheen’s greatest performance.

5. Hurricane Fly – 2008 Paddy Power Future Champion Novice Hurdle

He had some brilliant performances in open company but that day as a novice, he was breathtaking. Paul (Townend) rode ‘Hurricane’ and he and Go Native had big reputations. They both turned in at Leopardstown, both on the bridle coming to the last, and ‘Hurricane’ just sprinted away from a very fast horse like he was standing still. Hurricane Fly just destroyed him that day and Go Native went on to win the Supreme that season. They jumped the last flight together and Hurricane Fly won by ten lengths. That just goes to show you how good he was that day.

Kauto-Star-Ruby-Walsh-KG-2011

6. Kauto Star – 2006 Betfair Chase

In 2007, you could pick out a couple of performances of Kauto Star’s but from a performance that took your breath away, this day in Haydock took my breath away. I wasn’t sure if he’d stay or not and you had Beef Or Salmon and Kingscliff in there. He won in a common canter and I guess that was the day I thought he could be a Gold Cup horse. It was a day when he put all worries to bed. He barely broke sweat. It was also the race which set him up for the Betfair Million. I thought it was just a hell of a performance.

7. Vautour – 2015 JLT Novices’ Chase

For a novice, I think this was a phenomenal performance. It was his jumping and the ease at which he won. It was a joy to be on his back this day. He’d won the Supreme the year before but this day, he barely came off the bridle. Apache Stronghold and Valseur Lido got onto his coat tail turning in but that’s all they could do. He just blew them away. Holy Mother of God, it was a procession this day. To me, this was possibly his best performance.

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8. Denman – 2007 Hennessy Gold Cup

I watched this race in a bookies in Wexford with a dislocated shoulder. People will argue which was Denman’s greatest day. But from a performance which left you thinking, ‘Jesus Christ, what’s under the bonnet?’, it was this day. It was his first run outside of novice company and he was racing off a mark of 161. It was the manner in which he did it as well. This was the day when I knew I was going to have a quandary in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

9. Coneygree – 2014 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase

This isn’t a performance which will come to people’s minds straight away but I watched this race in the tea room in Kempton this day and I remember saying to myself, ‘Ah Nico, do you need to be going this fast!?’ But Coneygree just kept answering and he won the length of the straight. It got lost because it wasn’t the ‘King George’ but only three horses finished the race. I remember watching it and thinking ‘Wow!’.

10. Our Conor – 2013 Triumph Hurdle

I rode Far West in that Triumph Hurdle and while I was back early on, I was flat out the whole way. They went a really good gallop and I was thinking to myself ‘these horses can’t keep going like this’. When Our Conor ranged up to Diakali at the second last, I thought to myself ‘he’s going too soon’. Going too soon? The further he went, the further he won. It rode a really strong race and he won it by barely coming off the bridle.

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