In form jockey Michael Walker hopes he can regain his good strike rate when he returns to the saddle next year after an enforced lay off over the summer.
Walker is due to have surgery on November 22 to fix a nagging hip injury and won’t return to race riding until the Auckland Cup Carnival in March next year.
But the former New Zealand champion rider is heading back home this week to ride Savour The Moment for trainer Stephen Marsh in the Group 2 NZ$230,000 8th Coupland’s Bakeries Mile (1600m) at Riccarton Park on Wednesday before riding at the last day of the Melbourne Spring Carnival at Sandown on Saturday.
“Hopefully I can finish off on a high and then come back next year pain-free and injury-free,” Walker said.
Walker is having a great year in the saddle and as well as having ridden nine Metropolitan winners in Melbourne this season, the hard working jockey is currently second on the overall Victorian premiership with forty-three winners.
Walker rides most days of the week all over the state and has been rewarded with a steady stream of winners and even though he didn’t ride a major race winner over the Carnival, he managed to pick up a couple of winners at Flemington over Melbourne Cup week as well as running third in the Group 1 $1.5m AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on November 3 on Rawnaq.
Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh was able to lure Walker back to his home land to ride Savour The Moment and the Kiwi jockey is excited to be riding back in New Zealand.
“I’m looking forward to going back. I haven’t ridden there for a long time and he’s a good lightweight chance in a nice race,” Walker said.
Savour The Moment will go into Wednesday’s race as one of the fancies at his third run from a spell after finishing fourth over 1400m at Taupo and a dead heat for third over 1400m at Ellerslie on October 29.
Marsh was happy to get a jockey as experienced as Walker to ride the five year old at the lightweight of 52.5kg and was willing to fly Walker over for the one meeting.
“The 52.5 kilos ruled most riders out. Michael loves coming back to New Zealand and riding winners,” Marsh said.
“He’s riding super. For the sake of an air fare, we thought why not get Michael over and give the horse his best chance.”
Walker will be back to ride at Sandown on Saturday before undergoing his surgery in Melbourne and then travel back to New Zealand to recuperate.