Racing commentator, celebrity and character Ted Walsh retires from television work

Walsh was never shy about defending the sport

by Rose Barrett
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He won four races at Cheltenham as an amateur and trained two festival winners but it is for his colourful and often comedic commentary that Ted Walsh is known in recent years.

The 73-year-old’s operation is based in Co Kildare but since he announced his retirement from racing commentary on Saturday last, he has repeatedly reminded “I’m a proud Cork man, born in Fermoy!”

The popular racing figure stunned fellow commentators and racing connections on Saturday last when he announced his immediate retirement as a racing broadcaster/presenter.

Walsh was commenting on the final day of National Hunt Festival at Punchestown with broadcaster Jane Mangan along with Barry Geraghty and Lisa O’Neill when he made the shock announcement.

Even his son Ruby and daughter Katie were taken by surprise, but as former leading jockey Ruby said: “This is typical Ted style! None of us knew this was coming but that’s the best way and typical of Dad.

Ted Walsh has been working with RTÉ television for the past 40 years. He thanked the national broadcaster for the opportunity to comment on a sport he loved, working with people he admired, many of whom are racing friends.

“Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning with Marty Morrissey, he “Forty years is a long time and sure, it’s only 25-26 days I’d be doing racing commentary.”

Pictured at the T 21 Ball in aid of Down Syndrome: Ted Walsh, Sheila Barrett, Jaci Power and Sean Barrett. Pic : Lorraine O’Sullivan

He did add: “I often got myself into hot water, that’s the nature of the sport!” The racing maestro only became emotional when he referred to his companion in life, his wife Helen and thanked her for being there all through his career.

Walsh endeared himself to the racing fraternity with his often brutal  commentary, for example when a horse refused to jump over a bumper fence, “a chicken-hearted, dirty rotten, cowardly horse” and on another occasion “I rode its mother in Naas a few years ago!” His direct dialogue often saw him describe a horse as an “awkward lump.. an ugly brute….but he will get the job done!” When animal rights activists denounced the sport, Ted Walsh retorted: “If you don’t like racing, go watch Peppa Pig.”

A tearful Katie Walsh – also a four-time Cheltenham winner – was teary-eyed on the day but noted “what a massive influence he is, was and always will be on the sport.”

All the Walsh’s noted this is not a sad occasion, rather something new for their father, new horizons to come. Marty Morrissey wished Walsh and his wife Helen all the best in his ‘retirement’ but is he retiring, or just planning new adventures?

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