David Ord and Matt Brocklebank weigh up whether they prefer Ruby Walsh or AP McCoy

Ruby Walsh and Sir Anthony McCoy: Two of the great jumps jockeys

It may seem like being forced to choose between your own children, but we'd like to know your views on the great Walsh versus McCoy debate.

Our series continues with David Ord and Matt Brocklebank offering their thoughts on the two greats of the weighing room.

We want your feedback. Was it Walsh or McCoy for you if forced to decide between the pair? Check out details of how to contact us towards the foot of the article - and the views from our racing team.


David Ord - Team Walsh

Let’s be honest, it’s sacrilege to say there was ever a better National Hunt jockey than Sir Anthony McCoy. And I'm not.

Here’s a man who reinvented the job: 4,348 winners in the sphere, 20 successive jockeys’ titles. From Cartmel to Cheltenham, Fontwell to Ffos Las, he was a man who reigned supreme.

He wanted winners, craved winners, and got them – along with records - in bucketloads.

Wichita Lineman at Cheltenham? No other man or woman riding would have won on him. The punters’ pal and complete competitor.

But across the weighing room sat Ruby Walsh, an artist with an inner steel and as good a rider as I’ve seen at a fence or hurdle.

He was at one with his horse, whether going long or trying to shorten up at an obstacle, and had a big-race pedigree that was second to none.

It was no coincidence that he was at the heart of both the Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins operations during their golden periods, not only riding the races but the key work at home, helping with the schooling, planning, and campaigning.

A brilliant tactical brain in the saddle and a wonderful judge of a horse, his CV speaks for itself.

Five King Georges (all on Kauto Star), five Stayers’ Hurdles, four Champion Hurdles, three Champion Chases, two Grand Nationals.

Kauto, Master Minded, Big Buck’s, Azertyuiop, Hurricane Fly, Quevega, Annie Power, Faugheen, Un De Sceaux, and many, many more.

Big-race horses who enjoyed the benefit of being partnered by the best big-race jockey in the business.

Matt Brocklebank - Team McCoy

Like choosing between your favourite cheese, much can depend on the cracker.

Do you want creamy with creamy, or are you mad about that zen-like, salty and sweet combination? Multigrain for Gouda; Cornish wafer with Stilton; for many, a cracked pepper number will accompany a lovely Lancashire.

But it's not black and white, cut and dry, and nor is horsemanship. Nobody could get a tune out of Master Minded quite like Ruby Walsh. Nobody. And yet AP enjoyed a perfect 2-2 record on the horse. Nothing flashy, but job done.

Like a Land Rover Defender you'd trust your life with to Ruby's Porsche 911, McCoy was all substance. Walsh had plenty of it too, of course he did, but AP was on another plane from the rest in terms of pure tenacity and aggression in the saddle.

His achievements as a jockey may never be matched, not in my lifetime at least, and it's the staggering level of consistency and number of winners for which he'll be remembered most of all.

Granted, he won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Mr Mulligan and Synchronised and the Champion Hurdle on Make A Stand, Brave Inca and Binocular, but the memory of the man and the way he went about his business in such an extraordinary fashion will arguably outweigh the achievements of those individual horses, and one wonders whether that will be the case with Walsh.

He had the pick of the finest jumpers of a generation on both sides of the Irish Sea and it clearly wasn't a coincidence that greatness seemed to follow Walsh wherever he went. He made it look easy when it wasn't and largely allowed the horses to take care of themselves at the obstacles, which clearly brought the best out of many of them.

But the National Hunt world is one of gritted teeth, thumping hearts and passion - all muck and magic. And McCoy encapsulated that very essence.


Send us your views

Send your comments and contributions to racingfeedback@sportinglife.com and if you’ve any ideas for more topics you want covering over the coming days and weeks please let us know.


James Fairweather: A bit late to this but couldn't resist adding an extra thought on this debate. The AP/Ruby debate almost exactly mirrors an older one concerning the two Flat titans, Gordon Richards and Lester Piggott. Richards rode a few more winners than Piggott, but in the biggest races, everyone trying, money down, there was no contest. Piggott the master every time. Jack Leach was one good judge who reckoned that Gordon became a little too keyed up in some of the major races, tried almost too hard. Lester was the ice-cold executioner, who scarcely ever (the occasional Arc excepted, perhaps) lost a big race he should have won. Now most would take Piggott as the outstanding jockey of all time in that sphere, certainly head to head with Richards, with maybe only Archer and Dettori contesting that claim. To those who reckon Piggott was the master on the flat and yet believe that AP was superior to Ruby over the jumps, I would have to ask why. Ruby rode 2700 winners+ over jumps at a similar strike-rate to AP's four thousand odd. However, in the Grade Ones, there is no comparison - Ruby well over 200 victories, against fewer than 90 for McCoy. Yes, Walsh rode for Mullins and Nicholls, but for years, McCoy had his pick of many of the most fancied horses in the biggest races himself. The supreme test is not Plumpton or Kilbeggan on a Monday afternoon - it's Cheltenham or Punchestown or Aintree or Fairyhouse on the biggest occasion. To be consistent, we can't champion both Piggott and McCoy as the number ones in their fields. It must be Piggott and Walsh - the greatest when it was most important that they should be so.

Love these comparisons - how about a future one for Brigadier Gerard and Frankel over a mile?!

Alan: Most jockeys, given the chance, could have won on the top notchers that Ruby rode but you couldn’t say that about some of the horses that AP carried over the line to help him win 20 plus titles.

George Goodenough: Going to be really controversial here and trump 'em both with Davy Russel. Be it Grand National, Gold Cup or a handicap plot, the man always steps up and seems to have nerves of steel and ice running through his veins and his pithy interviews are pure box office.

David Marlow: The question for me when considering this is “if you owned a favourite for the Grand National or the Gold Cup, which one would you want to ride for you?”. The answer is clearly Ruby a Walsh.

“If you owned a lower rated horse running up and down the country, which one would you want riding for you?” The answer I would say is Tony McCoy.

Dave Parker: What a brave topic to approach but interesting. My personal opinion they are both greats in their own ways. Where AP rode many winners where other jockeys would have surrendered, Ruby was much the same but I believe Ruby rode a better class of horse, he had the pick of Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls stable for most of the big races here and in Ireland. If this makes any sense I believe that AP was the working mans jockey, they followed him as they new they would get value on horses he rode. Ruby was the same in many ways but I believe he was the big punters favourite jockey how many times did he put the favourites over the line in the big betting races. Even though Ruby didn’t ride the amount of winners AP did. AP was committed to riding in England 6 or 7 days week Ruby stayed mainly in Ireland apart from excursions to ride in the big meetings. Both were totally committed to there sport but approached it in different ways. Both greats and great we see them together on I T V racing bonus for all racing enthusiasts.

Debbie Friend: In my opinion Ruby Walsh every time. I loved watching him racing with so much love and enthusiasm for the game, and how he paid so much attention to the horse when it had won. Ruby Walsh every time.

Richard Pawlowski: I'll just be brief in my description between the two jockeys which I hope you will appreciate.

For me, Ruby Walsh was like a ballerina or Figure skater on a horse gracing each racecourse with his finesse and gyle whereas AP, (Sir AP) was like a rugged wrestler or a cage fighter. It would be like comparing Mohammed Ali to Mike Tyson, I'll leave you guys to work that one out.

Dermot Keelan: At the championship level, at festival meetings, how many times did a McCoy horse fall, with the race at his mercy ? McCoy always got the job done, when it mattered.

Martyn Weston: Difficult to pick between two great jockeys. It’s a bit like comparing a hardened functional Jose Mourinho title winning team, against a silky and stylish Pep Guardiola title winning team.

Both jockers were brilliant and two of the best we have ever seen. AP had the ability to get the very best out of a horse and as others have said, often from poor horses, but his style was not successful on all horses.

Personally, I prefer Ruby as his ability to settle horses was second to none. He conserved so much of the horses energy and he was brilliant at presenting his horse at a fence.

If I needed a jock to get an old rogue home when the money was down, then AP all day. If I had a classy individual who I needed nursing through a race , whilst not being given too hard a time during the race, then Ruby all day.

Mike Hale: McCoy got the best out of limited ability horses and maybe, just marginally, wasn’t quite as good as Ruby on graded horses.

Patrick Hynes: Two of the greats in racing but I would pick Walsh.

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