“I give her a squeeze to go forward to make sure she wins. The rest is history.”
Nevertheless, it is one horse that didn’t win that still lives with Walsh.
Ruby Walsh Annie Power
Annie Power was an incredible mare, winning the 2016 Champion Hurdle after being supplemented for the race.
However, it was the year before that she made the most headlines when sent off 1-2 favourite for the Mares Hurdle.
In what was an incredible day for both Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins, the pair were going for a four-timer after wins for Douvan (Supreme), Un De Sceaux (Arkle) and Faugheen (Champion Hurdle) earlier on the card.
Everything went right for Annie Power as she turned off the bend well clear of her stablemate Glen’s Melody.
Nobody could quite believe what happened next.
“I don’t know Paddy, we thought she was a certainty,” Walsh told Paddy Power when asked about the race.
“She was flying. We all know what happened but she was definitely the best horse in the race. She galloped all over the opposition.
“Her jumping style always was a little flat but if she was in any doubt, she would gallop on. She crashed through the last in Doncaster – that was her jumping style.
“If she was long rather than short, she would kick it. And that’s what I fully expected her to do and look what she did.”
🎃Racing’s Trick or Treats: Part One (of 10)
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) October 31, 2018
In a brilliant interview, Walsh talked through the final stages of the race and what was going through his head on board Annie Power.
“Glen’s Melody (eventual winner) appears down my inside so I have to move forward,” Walsh explained.
“Jumps the second last well, in front now. It’s how far really in my mind. I know I have loads of horse left and she’s going to pick up.
“Paul switches out around me on Glen’s Melody and when he comes for me then off the bend, I give her a squeeze to go forward to make sure she wins.
“The rest is history.”
Barry Geraghty, who appeared on the same Paddy Power interview, had sympathy for his ex-rival acknowledging that nobody could have done anything differently.
“I don’t think anyone could do anything any differently because the horse has to take ownership too,” Geraghty said.
“She galloped down and you need your horse to look and concentrate. Ruby sat for her to pop and she said ‘no, I’m airborne’.
“So it was premature on her behalf. If he asked the question for her to come up and she fell as she did, that would have been kamikaze on his behalf.
“But he did the right thing as in we’re sitting for another stride, pop this and win and she said ‘no, party’s on let’s go’.”
CHELTENHAM REWIND: We sat Barry Geraghty & Ruby Walsh down with Paddy to watch back some of their great, and not-so-great, days at Cheltenham.
Here, @BarryJGeraghty talks about his Champion Hurdle win last year.
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) March 9, 2021
Walsh pointed to his own record in the Mares Hurdle – which he won eight times – but he is often remembered for that infamous fall.
“I rode in that particular race 11 times and won it eight times,” Walsh said.
“But, you’re only remembered for the one you didn’t win.
“That’s life and you move on but to me – like Barry has said – if I had gone and sent her and she did that.”
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) May 17, 2017
Geraghty replied: “You wouldn’t have ridden I’d say the 20 winners that came after that. You might have ridden 10 winners that came after that because you’d be half out of a job I’d say.”
Despite the mare going airborne, the 11-time leading jockey at Cheltenham still had hopes that she could find a leg and stay on her feet.
“Even when she got airborne I was still thinking ‘get one leg out, get one leg out’,” Walsh added.
“I remember standing up thinking ‘that can’t have just happened’.
🐎 Annie Power 🐎
She won the 2016 Champion Hurdle a year after falling at the last with victory at her mercy in the Mares' Hurdle. Her only loss in 16 completed starts under Rules was when 2nd in the 2014 Stayers' Hurdle.#CheltenhamFestival #30DaysToGo #GreatFestivalMoments pic.twitter.com/OxkE2YNUg5
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) February 14, 2021
“I think the sad part for me from a person’s point of view is I’d won the Supreme, the Arkle and the Champion Hurdle. Like how grateful should you have been.
“Yet the one that tipped up was killing me that night. That you couldn’t be grateful for what you had, you were still angry about what got away.
“That’s how I felt at the time but you would never say. You’d think ‘Jesus why couldn’t you just be happy with the three you had?'”
Geraghty added his own story of heartbreak when, despite riding a four-timer at Ascot back in 2010, he was disappointed he didn’t make it five.
“We’re always the same, it’s the one that got way,” the now-retired jockey said.
“I rode a four-timer in Ascot one day – won the Ascot Chase on Monet’s Gardens. I had a fifth winner that I would have had.
“He (Ruby) won it for Nicky on the second string and I could name the one he rode but I couldn’t name the four that I rode.”
You can watch the full Paddy Power interview with Ruby Walsh and Barry Geraghty by clicking here.