Michael Walker gives up mount Criterion after fainting incident

An unexplained blackout that led to jockey Michael Walker being hospitalised on Sunday night will cost the rider two important mounts at Saturday’s rich Sydney championships.
Nanjing Night Net

Early on Sunday, Walker was preparing to leave his house when he passed out in the bathroom, hitting his head on the floor.

The former Kiwi managed to struggle to his feet and phone a friend, who immediately ordered an ambulance to the jockey’s home. He was taken to hospital and remained there overnight for observation.

It’s a cruel twist for Walker, who has had a number of setbacks in the past few months but had looked to Saturday’s Randwick meeting as a reinvention of his career.

“I really can’t believe it, one moment I’m standing in the bathroom and the next minute I’m passed out.

“Luckily I sort of came to and got to the phone to call a friend.

“It’s all such a haze but fortunately my friend picked up, and got me an ambulance and I was quickly in hospital under observation.

“It’s all a bit confusing.”

On Saturday, Walker was set to ride Criterion in the group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes but will now not ride at all.

The 31-year-old who underwent a serious hip operation in December was slowly getting his career back on track and saw Saturday’s championship as an ideal launching pad.

He has told trainer David Hayes he won’t be riding on Saturday, believing that while he could have fulfilled the commitments, he didn’t believe it was fair.

“It was my call. I could’ve ridden the horses up there but I just didn’t think it was right,” he said.

“I’ll see my regular doctor, Garry Zimmerman, on Tuesday and he’ll advise what I should be doing in the future.”

Walker was one of the most successful jockeys in recent times to come out of New Zealand and, as a teenager, rewrote many riding records in his rise to the top of New Zealand racing.

In recent times, he has been doing the bulk of his work with the powerful David Hayes outfit in Euroa.

The Hayes stable moved quickly on Monday morning and have booked Tommy Berry to ride Criterion in the $4 million Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Hugh Bowman taking the reins on Almoonqith in the Sydney Cup.

Criterion will be striving to achieve back-to-back Queen Elizabeth Stakes victories after the horse’s all-the-way-win in the event last year.

And Almoonqith, another from the Hayes yard who won last year’s Geelong Cup, comes into the Sydney Cup well credentialled.

Late on Monday Racing NSW stewards suspended betting on the Queen Elizabeth Stakes until acceptance time on Tuesday morning.

The stewards’ ruling, which affects all TAB and corporate bookmakers, surrounds the decision of Chris Waller on whether he starts his champion four-year-old mare, Winx, in the group 1 event or sends her to the paddock to be spelled for a Cox Plate campaign later in the year.

Waller has stressed all along that any slight sign of fatigue in the mare would result in her going to the paddock.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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