Back in the Saddle
Michael Walker, 26, has returned to the race course after a life-threatening pig-shooting accident resulted in the Rotorua-born jockey suffering a serious head injury when he fell 7m down a bluff in 28. “As soon as I got to the warmth of New Plymouth Hospital I slipped into a coma,” Walker said.” I was bleeding from over 3 places on my brain. Yeah, I was in a coma and on life support.” Walker’s family was prepared for the worst. They were told by medicos their loved one was in a fight for life. He did fight and returned to the saddle within eight months of the accident. He won the New Zealand Derby this year. Walker, now settled in Brisbane, burst on to the racing scene in New Zealand as a 15-year-old. He was given a special exemption to ride in races before the legal age of 16 and he became a fully-fledged jockey in April 24. In his first season of riding in 1999-2, he rode 15-odd winners and claimed the national apprentices’ title along with the New Zealand senior jockeys’ gong.