Michael Walker says he refuses to tell porky pies and believes that has often been his downfall throughout his colourful riding career.
But the enigmatic hoop wouldn’t have it any other way.
He says his brutal honesty with owners and trainers is motivated by his cherished grandmother who raised him through a tumultuous childhood in New Zealand.
Walker has been sacked from probably more horses than he can remember for calling a spade a spade and a shovel a shovel.
He refuses to sugar-coat things to owners, always spelling it out for them in black and white if he thinks their horses aren’t much chop.
It often hasn’t endeared him to trainers and it’s why his rides in big races are generally not in the fancied market picks.
On the three-year anniversary of his famous Caulfield Guineas win on $101 shot Mighty Boss, Walker is certain he can win Saturday’s Group 1 Thousand Guineas on $14 pop Odeum for his biggest supporter, the equally straight-shooting Mick Price and co-trainer Michael Kent Jr.
Walker has opened up about how he has no regrets about speaking his mind, even if it has cost him opportunities to win many more than his seven Aussie Group 1s.
Walker’s father was 14 when he was born and his mother just 15 but he always treasured his Nan for bringing him up the right way and helping to mould him into the man he says he is today. There are no regrets.
“I hate lying. My nan (grandmother) brought me up and she used to hate lies,” Walker says.
“When I was a little kid I used to lie and I used to get a hiding for it.
“I always tell the truth to owners and that’s been a downfall of my career a bit because sometimes trainers don’t like that.
“But if a horse is no good, it’s no good.
“There is no point saying a horse goes good if it doesn’t.
“I might lose rides because of it, but if I tell the truth I am happy with myself and I can’t get into any trouble.
“But that often meant I don’t get the luxury of having the odds-on pops in big races like Mark Zahra, Craig Williams and Damien Oliver.
“I’ve got to try and win with what I’m given – once in a while I’m going to get a roughie up as most of my rides are $15 and over.”
Michael Walker always speaks his mind. Pic: Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Until recently, Walker had the ride on Blue Diamond winner Tagaloa which is a highly-rated $6 chance to win Saturday’s Caulfield Guineas.
Walker has revealed what led to him being unseated for the prized ride by Craig Williams, with Walker feeling Yulong’s principal Yuesheng Zhang was behind the decision.
“I rode Tagaloa the way I was told to both runs this time in, he was still running good and showing his champion qualities but he was drawing bad gates,” Walker says.
“I rode him as well as possible but we just had no luck.
“I think Mr Zhang and Yulong were the ones who made the decision to replace me.
“I have ridden in Asia a lot – they either view you as a lucky jockey or an unlucky jockey.
“Apparently I was an unlucky jockey on this occasion.
“But Tagaloa is a champion colt and I wish them all the best and I’m sure he is capable of winning the race.”
Michael Walker after riding Tagaloa to win the Blue Diamond Stakes. He has now lost the ride for the Caulfield Guineas. Pic: Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
While Walker often hasn’t been the one calling the shots as to what he rides, he was in the case of this year’s Melbourne Cup where he made the decision to jump off fan favourite Prince Of Arran to ride import Dashing Willoughby.
Prince Of Arran has placed in the last two Melbourne Cups for Walker, but the jockey insists he didn’t deserve the criticism he received for instead choosing import Dashing Willoughby for this year’s Caulfield and Melbourne Cups.
“I actually copped a bit of flak about it and people were saying I wasn’t loyal and faithful – but it came to a decision where Prince of Arran runs and then goes home where Dashing Willoughby stays here and Sir Owen Glenn has been a huge supporter of mine,” Walker said.
“I actually was being loyal to him (Glenn) and making a decision for the long term, not just the short term.
“With our weight-for-age stocks in Australia I think he could be a top weight-for-age horse going forward after the Cups.”
So can Walker conjure another Guineas day Group 1 with Thousand Guineas contender Odeum?
Walker has never been lacking confidence but he insists it isn’t false confidence to suggest the filly is way over the odds.
Odeum ridden by Michael Walker wins the Jim Moloney Stakes at Caulfield. Pic: Racing Photos.Source:Supplied
Odeum has won two from three, including blowing away her rivals last-start at Caulfield, and Walker suggests she should be undefeated.
“She should be three from three. She should have beaten (stablemate) Night Raid at the Valley, but Night Raid knocked me down and Mark Zahra got suspended,” Walker says.
“If that hadn’t happened she would be first or second favourite for the Guineas.
“She is peaking for the right race which they have aimed at the whole way through.
“You will be ringing me on Sunday after she wins.”
Originally published asMichael Walker won’t tell porky pies
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