Jockey Creates his Own Miracle
He is considered to be the best jockey in New Zealand, and someone who has a magnificent career ahead of him. After being taken under the wing of trainer Allan Sharrock, Michael Walker did his time as a general worker, but Sharrock saw potential in Walker and at the age of fifteen he was placed in the saddle, and began racing by the age of sixteen. As an apprentice jockey, Walker raked in an amazing one-hundred and thirty-one victories in his first year and went on to clock six-hundred and fifty-three wins for Sharrock. In 2004, and at the age of twenty, he completed his apprenticeship and became a jockey. But on 20 May 2008, tragedy struck.
Michael Walker became the cream of the New Zealand horse racing industry, taking Group 1 victories such as the Sire’s Produce Stakes, Auckland Cup, New Zealand Bloodstock, 2000 Guineas, Telegraph Handicap, Brisbane Cup, Wellington Cup, Family Hotel WFA, Waikato Draught Sprint and the New Zealand Bloodstock 1000 Guineas. In December 2007, he won a hundred and seventy-three races; which was more victories than any other jockey had been able to accomplish in one season. During a hunting trip in May, Walker fell ten meters down a bank and after being transferred to the Auckland City Hospital, he was diagnosed with extremely serious head injuries, which left not only his career as a jockey but his life in the balance.
As the horse racing industry, family, friends and doctors were hoping that his fiery spirit would pull him through, they were not disappointed. His recovery after being released from the hospital has been described as nothing short of miraculous. He began riding and training again during the last month, and his fitness level is said to have played a huge role in his fast recovery. His neurosurgeon, who has been working closely with the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing society, cleared him for trial racing. On the 27th of November 2008, a slightly nervous Walker geared up and got ready for racing. It only took him one race to get back into the swing of things, getting a fourth position on Sunshine Park in his first race, and taking victory on Santangelo on his second outing.
Walker is scheduled to undergo more scans soon to determine if he will be able to go back to full time racing, and if Thursday is anything to go by, he is fit and ready. Doctors are very happy with his progress and his determination to continue his horse racing career has helped him get through this difficult time. Many of his fans hope to see him back in the racing saddle before Christmas, and if Walker can continue on this path of small miracles, it might just happen.