Ruby Walsh: Watching Paul Townend ride Total Recall to Newbury glory made me reach for the wine

The legend looked back at some of the tougher times in his glittering career

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On this Friday’s From the Horse’s Mouth podcast, Ruby reminisced about the impact his many, many injuries had on his physical and mental health and how the latter would often deliver pain long after the former had gone away. Ruby admitted that his unrelenting competitive spirit sometimes led to immense frustration and jealousy at being forced to watch other jockeys winning races he had his eye on.

The competitor in you, that was always there, and it was always hard watching somebody else having success that you thought you should be having. I’ve always said it; the physical side of injury went away after a day, two days, the bone starts to heal, physical pain goes away but the mental pain of missing out stays with you.

It’s the competitor in you that wants to be back riding good horses. Missing out through injury never got any easier throughout my whole career.

I remember watching Paul Townend winning the old Hennessey on Total Recall in 2017 and I’d broken my leg at Punchestown the month before. I was watching the race and my wife had gone out with the kids and I was home alone, stomping around in the kitchen on crutches.

Paul Townend celebrates winning the Magners Gold up for the second time on Al Boum Photo. Cheltenham Festival. Photo: Patrick McCann/Racing Post 13.03.2020

I was so disappointed to have missed out on riding in that race that I couldn’t watch anymore. It was around 3pm and I opened a bottle of red wine in the kitchen and I poured myself a glass at the counter.

So, I had the bottle of wine open and the glass poured and I’ve no way of getting it from the counter to the couch. I’ve got two crutches, a glass full of wine and an open bottle. I’m standing in the kitchen and I ended up laughing at myself after a few minutes.

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How was I going to get from point A to point B? I ended up drinking the wine at the counter because I couldn’t make it to the couch, like I was propped up at the bar.

The answer, of course, is never at the bottom of a bottle but the frustration of watching horses win never left me and it’s something that affects all successful sportsmen in all kinds of ways.