Ruby Walsh sets his sights on being fully fit for the Cheltenham Festival

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Tue 21 Nov 2017

By Andy Stephens

Ruby Walsh has estimated he will be out of action a minimum of 12 weeks after fracturing his right tibia in a fall at Punchestown on Saturday.

The serial Irish champion spoke exclusively to Racing UK on Tuesday afternoon and added being fit for the Cheltenham Festival, which starts on March 13, was his main objective.

2017 Cheltenham Festival - Gold Cup Day - Cheltenham Racecourse Walsh says the physical pain goes away but the mental pain stays (PA)

“A broken leg is usually 12 weeks [to heal], give or take. It’s 16 weeks and three days from the fall to the Cheltenham, so I have 15 and a half weeks or 15 and three quarters to be ready,” Walsh said. “I don't think it matters how much experience you have. You can only do what the doctors tell you and be as patient as you can."

The 38-year-old, who was returning to the saddle after a week off with hand injury, had already suffered two tumbles on the Punchestown card when taking another fall from Let’s Dance, the odds-on favourite in a mares’ hurdle, who exited at the fourth-last flight.

Walsh, top jockey at the Cheltenham Festival in 11 of the past 14 seasons, received lengthy treatment on the track before being taken to Naas hospital where X-rays revealed the extent of his injury.

He had been scheduled to resume his partnership with Faugheen in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday afternoon.

In his absence, the 2015 Champion Hurdle winner , having been absent 22 months, made a brilliant winning return to action and is now the general 5-2 favourite to reclaim his crown at Cheltenham.

“It was great to see Faugheen winning but it was heartbreaking not to be on his back. That will be the case next weekend, the following weekend and every weekend until you return, but that’s just the mental pain of any sports person sitting on the sidelines.

“The physical pain goes away but the mental pain stays with you until your are back.”

Faugheen will be among a glittering cast of horses trained by Mullins who Walsh will miss out on up to Christmas in the early part of the New Year. Others include Douvan, who is set to reappear in the Tingle Creek Creek Chase at Sandown on December 9, plus such as Un De Sceaux, Yorkhill and Nichols Canyon.

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