SPEAKING of Ruby Walsh, it is true that he is often on the best horse in the race, but there is a reason for that, and his class was once again in evidence in the ride that he gave Thistlecrack to win the two-mile novices’ hurdle at Ascot on Saturday. Close up behind the leader Otago Trail through the early stages of the race, Walsh moved Colin Tizzard’s gelding to the outside running down by Swinley Bottom, and gradually allowed him drift back through the small field as the pace increased. Thistlecrack was last of the five runners as they started the climb up the side of the track about six furlongs from home but his rider did not seem to be too worried. It wasn’t until they jumped the last flight on that part of the course, the third last all told, that Ruby started to ask his horse to improve. He moved into fourth place as they rounded the home turn, travelled well into the home straight and, still just fourth jumping the last, he stayed on best of all on the near side to get up and win by four lengths.

It may be that he was on the best horse in the race anyway but it takes nerve and confidence to ride his horse as he did. Walsh has all of that, and lots more besides. He is a massive asset.