Champion jockey Rotorua-born Michael Walker, 26, has won the $AU7, Sphinx Hotel Handicap (12m) on Venus World at Moonee Valley in Melbourne. Walker started his riding career 11 years ago and in his first season won the New Zealand jockey’s premiership with 131 winners. He was the talk of racing world with a staggering 653 winners as an apprentice and gained experience in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Malaysia. Walker is now based in Melbourne, a move influenced by businessman and high profile owner and breeder Sean Buckley. “Sean is a great mate of mine and every runner he has I have first option to ride,” Walker said.