Michael Walker (jockey)

Michael Walker (born 1984) is a New Zealand jockey of Māori ancestry.

Early lifeEdit

Michael Walker was born in Rotorua, New Zealand in the central districts of the North Island, although his family later moved to Waitara. At the age of 11 Walker approached noted Thoroughbred trainer Allan Sharrock, asking for work with his horses. Sharrock gave him regular work after school, before eventually indenturing him as an apprentice. He arranged a special dispensation for Walker to start riding in races at age 15 instead of the usual starting age of 16.

In his first year as an apprentice (the 1999–2000 racing year), Walker had an astonishing 131 wins to not only win the apprentices’ championship but the jockeys’ premiership as well (his first of three). While apprenticed to Sharrock, Walker won 653 races, most in New Zealand (a record 631 wins), but also in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore and Macau.

Senior jockeyEdit

Still only 20 when he became a fully fledged jockey in April 2004, Walker celebrated the next day by riding five winners at the Woodville-Pahiatua Racing Club's meeting in southern Hawke's Bay. Despite not riding in New Zealand for three-quarters of the season, Walker finished with 107 wins, only seven behind Matamata jockey Leith Innes who won the 2003–04 premiership. However, he was awarded the apprentice of the year title for the season.

Overseas moveEdit

Wanting to further his career, Walker announced in May 2004 that he was moving to Australia to live in Melbourne, following in the footsteps of other champion New Zealand jockeys, such as Midge Didham, Greg Childs, Brent Thomson, Shane Dye and the Cassidy brothers, who made their names overseas.

Walker left with the blessing of Sharrock and the New Zealand racing fraternity. He made an immediate impression a few days after moving to Victoria, when he rode 30-1 shot Monde Special to win the Warrnambool Cup. A couple of weeks later he rode Chloe With Class to win at Moonee Valley to record his first metropolitan win, and followed that with a treble at Bendigo on 20 May 2004 on Lord Orb, Swift Rule, and Scopari.

His ride on Danestorm to win the Brisbane Cup in June 2004 was hailed by the media. However, he then went through a period of poor form and wins were few and far between.

In 2005 Michael returned to New Zealand and became stable rider for leading Matamata trainer Mark Walker. With that deal the winning feeling returned and in March 2006 he producing a perfectly timed ride on Pentane to win New Zealand's richest handicap, the Auckland Cup.

Hunting accidentEdit

On 20 May 2008 Walker was seriously injured while pig hunting in Taranaki when he fell down a 10-metre high bank. He was taken to Taranaki Base Hospital and then transferred to Auckland City Hospital with serious head injuries.[1] He scored a win in only his second ride after his accident, at Matamata on 4 December 2008.[2]

Notable victoriesEdit

The following are some of the major races Michael has won in New Zealand and Australia.

Year
Race
Horse
Trainer(s)
2020 The Thousand Guineas Odeum Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr
2020 New Zealand Derby Sherwood Forest Tony Pike
2020 Blue Diamond Stakes Tagaloa Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young
2017 Caulfield Guineas Mighty Boss Mick Price
2014 New Zealand Derby Puccini Peter & Jacob McKay
2010 New Zealand Derby Military Move Shaune Ritchie
2008 Otaki-Maori Weight for Age Alamosa Peter McKay
2008 Wellington Cup Young Centaur John Sargent
2007 New Zealand 1000 Guineas Insouciant Mark Walker
2006 Auckland Cup Pentane Lance O'Sullivan
2006 Otaki-Maori Weight for Age Darci Brahma Mark Walker
2005 New Zealand 2000 Guineas Darci Brahma Mark Walker
2005 Hawke's Bay Guineas Darci Brahma Mark Walker
2004[3] Brisbane Cup Danestorm Jim Conlan
2003 New Zealand 1000 Guineas Taatletail Graeme Rogerson & Stephen Autridge
2003 Waikato Sprint Tit for Taat Anne Herbert
2003 Telegraph Handicap Tit for Taat Anne Herbert
2002 Hawke's Bay Guineas Bunker Stephen & Trevor McKee
2002 Ellerslie Sires Produce Stakes Grout Allan Sharrock
2002 Manawatu Sires Produce Stakes Grout Allan Sharrock
2001 Wellington Cup Smiling Like Graeme Rogerson

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Vass, Beck (22 May 2008). "Walker still unconscious after fall". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  2. ^ "Michael Walker wins his second ride back". Stuff.co.nz. NZPA. 4 December 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2011.
  3. ^ "Walker and Danestorm take Brisbane Cup > Australia and International Horse Racing news updated daily".