Racing: Cox Plate was Walshy's greatest thrill

By Mike Dillon

David Walsh on Sir Slick after winning the The Trusts Charitable Thorndon Mile. Photo / NZPA/Ross Setford
David Walsh on Sir Slick after winning the The Trusts Charitable Thorndon Mile. Photo / NZPA/Ross Setford

David Walsh was born before his time.

Mainly because he is opinionated.

But opinionated only when it matters. "Maybe try such and such with this horse," he'd at times tell a trainer after a race.

Often old time trainers did not appreciate being told such things by a jockey. Horsemen of 60 to 70 years back viewed jockeys as second class citizens. A necessary evil in racing. Like children in those times, ridiculously, they were to be seen and not heard. Today jockeys worldwide are the rock stars of racing. Those without a strong opinion are scorned.

Those who know David Michael Walsh see him as a legendary figure. To many others slightly less, perhaps because he spent the best part of the last decade riding in the South Island and more recently signed up to ride in Mauritius for 12 months. He rode only one day and a health issue saw him return home.

But Walshy, as everyone knows him, did something only a handful of jockeys have achieved - winning a Cox Plate and a Caulfield Cup.

And brilliantly, he can do something only a slightly larger group can achieve - cook pork.

As a jockey he was totally dedicated. If you took the top off a beer for him, you only ever got the opportunity to follow up with a second if a raceday was two or three days away.

Jockeys he rode against? "Long ago I was sure Lester Piggott was going to be the best jockey I would ever see. Have a look at how he rode in the early days. He looked as good back then as the best of today. He was years ahead of his time."

Walsh says riding a winner at Ellerslie on a day when Piggott was visiting and riding remains one of his great thrills. "But winning the Cox Plate on Solvit was far and away my greatest thrill. You can't beat that can you - it's a great race."

- NZ Racing Desk

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