‘I’m probably not as shocked as everyone else… There were signs there along the way’: Ruby Walsh not surprised by Michael O’Leary announcement that he is to start winding down his racing operation
- Michael O’Leary’s successes include two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll
- He has also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice among 27 Festival winners
- Ryanair boss confirmed Gigginstown will phase out team within next five years
Ruby Walsh was not surprised by the announcement from Michael O’Leary that he is to start winding down his Gigginstown Stud racing operation in Ireland.
Gigginstown won 162 races in Britain and Ireland last season, including a third Grand National with Tiger Roll, but O’Leary, seven-time champion owner in Ireland, says a growing family means he has less time for racing.
Walsh, writing in his Paddy Power blog, said: ‘I’m probably not as shocked as everyone else. There were signs there along the way.
Grand National winner Tiger Roll with trainer Gordon Elliott (left), and owner Michael O’Leary
‘Michael and his wife Anita have four kids who are growing up and the only one who appears to have interest in racing is Michael.
‘They’ve won a lot but to have the amount of horses they have, you need to be in love and dedicated to racing 24/7.’
O’Leary shocked National Hunt racing by announcing his intention to wind up his operation
O’Leary said on Tuesday: ‘We wish to sincerely thank all our trainers and their teams for the enormous success we’ve enjoyed over the past decade, but as my children are growing into teenagers I am spending more and more of my time at their activities and I have less and less time for National Hunt racing, a situation that will continue for the foreseeable future.
‘I hope that by running down our string over an extended four- or five-year period it will give our trainers ample time to replace our horses without disruption.’
Gordon Elliott is the trainer worst hit by the news, although 225 individual horses ran in the Gigginstown silks for six different trainers last season, so the disruption will be seismic.
Ruby Walsh (above) says he was not surprised by the announcement from O’Leary