Ferguson red-faced after Ruby rejection

Ruby Walsh laughed when it was put to him that he had just become the racing world's equivalent of Alan Shearer after he had turned down Sir Alex Ferguson to join forces with a main rival. But then, he would have considered the analogy and said "to hell with that". Shearer happened to miss out on a treble because of his decision to snub Fergie for Newcastle; Walsh was in the process of doing exactly the reverse.

Cooldine was the second leg of the Irishman's three-timer on an afternoon when he renamed the old song, "Ruby Wednesday". Walsh said it had been a "very difficult decision" to opt for the favourite over the second favourite, Ferguson's What A Friend. "But it proved to be the right decision," he said. "I can tell you, I had a bit of banter with Sir Alex on the phone when I made the call."

It is fair to doubt that Sir Alex would have been in the mood for "a slagging" – as Walsh so eloquently put it – after the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old romped up the hill and Sir Alex flopped in his sofa like Ronaldo in a penalty box as his own horse laboured up the run-in like a four-legged Kevin Keegan. The Manchester United manager could not attend the Festival yesterday due to some prior obligation he had at Old Trafford last night. But he was there in spirit; as well as there in a persistent ring-tone.

His co-owner's ear looked as red as a devil when his mobile went off. "Yeah, he's been on the phone a few times," said the Manchester businessman Ged Mason, as his mobile continued to buzz. The venue was the Cheltenham parade ring, it was five minutes to off in the 2.40 and Sir Alex evidently had some last-minute instructions for his jockey. But as Mason handed Sam Thomas the phone, he simply waved his hand and strode towards his mount. "They don't allow me to use mobiles when I'm riding," said Thomas, citing a Jockey Club rule. Oh what his fellow Welshman Ryan Giggs, would have given for that excuse just before 3pm over the years.

As Thomas leapt on the Paul Nicholls-trained bay, a certain Bryan Robson was chuckling to the press corps. They all assumed he was there as Sir Alex's representative. "Not me," announced Fergie's former captain. "I don't want the hairdryer treatment when it loses. I'm just here as a friend of Ged's and of course, of the boss.

"Sure, United have a big game tonight and this is probably a good way of taking his mind off it. But to relax? No way. Watching your horse running at Cheltenham is the easiest way to get agitated."

They were to prove prophetic words as Ruby dug another gem from the dirt and Sir Alex was left to dream about next year. Certainly, there were plenty of excuses to fuel any optimism. Nicholls revealed that the six-year-old had a "dirty nose" when he awoke yesterday and Mason concluded "he's only young – there'll be other days".

Sir Alex would have liked that. After all, you win nothing with kids. Not in this game.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence