Sandown win has special meaning for Michael Walker

Darryl Sherer - Monday August 7

It may have been a restricted event at a rainswept Sandown but victory on Galileo's Pearl held great significance for Michael Walker on Sunday.

Michael Walker driving Galileo's Pearl home at Sandown. Photo: Darryl Sherer

Walker drove the Mick Kent-trained Galileo's Pearl home to defeat Blazers at the end of the 2100m Tile Importer Handicap to post his first metropolitan win since returning from six months on the sidelines recovering from back and hip surgery.

"The win itself was terrific but it's even more satisfying to win on what would have been my Nan's birthday," Walker said.

"Ossalla May did so much for me and always had faith in me as a jockey so it means a lot to win on this day."

Walker has ridden the six-year-old Galileo's Pearl four times for four wins and has a special trick he uses only when necessary

"The horse is going really well and has won his last three now," Walker said.

"He's a bit funny, if you use the whip in the right hand he just does enough, if you use it in your left he finds another gear."

Walker has ridden six winners since returning to race riding on July 14 and says he understands he has to work his way back into the consciousness of trainers and owners.

"I've had a slow start to the season but I hope this shows everyone I still have what it takes," Walker said.

"My weight is coming down all the time, slowly but surely - I'm fit, I'm hungry and I want it. I'm feeling really good, finally pain free for probably the first time in 17 years."

As bad as the last six months has been, it is not the first time injury has threatened Walker's riding career.

He came close to losing his life when falling 70 metres down a cliff while pig hunting in New Zealand in 2008.

In a coma and on life support, his family were told to prepare for the worst. If he survives it is doubtful he will be able to walk or talk, let alone ride again.

But he did, winning on his second ride back at Matamata seven months after the accident.

Having won the New Zealand jockeys' premiership for the first time in 1999-2000 as an 15 year-old apprentice, Walker said his new found physical wellness has him excited about the future.

"I just want to keep riding and all I can do is work hard and take the opportunities as they come," Walker said.

"The last few year's I've ridden Group One winners when I've been injured and to be honest, I feel the strongest I have ever been.

"The way I feel now I honestly believe at this stage of my career I can be a better rider. I'm just looking for the chance to prove myself."

Advertisment
More Reading...
November Foals Kick Goals – Have You Bought One This Year?
If I heard it once last week at Inglis Easter, I’ve heard it a thousand times at sales over the years - ‘Ladies and gentlemen, he’s a November foal, all he’s going to do is improve’, so what does it mean and why bother to announce it? Statistics would suggest it’s a positive for the purchaser.
Capitalist Earns his Fee Increase
Newgate Farm’s Golden Slipper winning sire Capitalist has achieved great things so far this season and a Group I winner last Saturday in Captivant put the icing on the cake to justify a fee increase from $44,000 to $99,000.
Dual G1 Sprinter Retires to his Forever Home
Dual Group One winner Enzo’s Lad has been retired after trailing the field home in the Listed Daphne Bannan Memorial Great Easter Stakes (1400m) at Riccarton on Saturday.
Galileo Keeps Them Coming
Champion sire Galileo might be 23, but he’s showing no signs of losing his dominance delivering two blue-blooded three year-old stakes-winners at Leopardstown overnight in Joan of Arc and Bolshoi Ballet, who both may well be Group I winners before the end of June.
Finale Looms for Melody Belle
The Gr.1 Doomben Cup (2000m) on May 22 remains set as the final start in the storied career of Melody Belle following her midfield finish at the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Possible Royal Ascot Contender for National Defense
Due to shuttle to Widden Stud Victoria this spring, young Invincible Spirit stallion National Defense (GB) is on the board with his first two runners now both winners that include ultra-impressive filly Twilight Gleaming, a TDN Rising Star for her scintillating victory at Belmont on Sunday.
Most Expensive Mares – Are They Worth the Money
The impending sale of champion mares Melody Belle and Arcadia Queen and where they may fit in the list of Australia’s most expensive mares sold at public auction got us thinking about the others on the list and where are they now?
Enter Now for Bloodstockauction.com Online Broodmare & Weanling Sale
Bloodstockauction.com is holding an Online Broodmare & Weanling Sale before its regular weekly sale this May!
Karaka Graduate the First SW for Turn Me Loose
Karaka graduates fought out the finish of a talent-packed edition of the $50,000 Listed Waikato Equine Veterinary Centre 2YO Stakes (1100m) at Te Rapa on Saturday, with Turn the Ace (NZ) (Turn Me Loose) prevailing to keep his perfect record intact. 
Arcadia Queen Added to Magic Millions National Sale
Champion mare Arcadia Queen will go under the hammer as an elite breeding prospect at this month's Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale on the Gold Coast.