Jockey Katie Walsh has announced her retirement immediately after riding Antey to a narrow success at the Punchestown Festival.
The daughter of Grand National-winning trainer Ted Walsh and sister of National Hunt riding great Ruby, has enjoyed a stellar career in the saddle.
Walsh claimed a Cheltenham Festival double in 2010 aboard Poker De Sivola and Thousand Stars and was back in the winner’s circle again last month, steering the Willie Mullins-trained Relegate to success in the Champion Bumper.
She came in for the ride on Mullins’ 9-1 shot Antey in Friday’s Novice Hurdle after Danny Mullins was injured earlier in the day.
Walsh returned to the winner’s enclosure in tears and immediately made the shock announcement.
“It’s been on my mind for the last while and there’s another chapter in life,” Walsh said.
“I wanted to go out on a winner, whether it be here or wherever it may be. I just said when I rode the next winner that would be it.”
Walsh achieved the highest-placed finish by any female rider in the history of the Grand National at Aintree when third aboard Seabass for her father in 2012.
She rode in the race for a sixth time last month when last of 12 finishers aboard Baie Des Iles, trained by her husband, Ross O’Sullivan.
“I wanted to ride in a National for Ross and did that, and have ridden winners in France, Australia, England and Ireland and was very lucky throughout my career,” she said.
“I’ve had the backing of dad and Ross and wouldn’t have ridden half these winners without the backing of Willie.
“It’s just the right time for me. I’d like to thank everyone I’ve ridden winners for.”
On the day he claimed his 12th Irish trainers’ championship, Mullins paid tribute to Walsh.
“Katie has been a big part of our team for many years, and I’m hugely honoured that we were lucky enough to give her that last winner,” he said.