Simon Walker: the Michael van Gerwen of the racing world
PICTURE: David Dew (racingpost.com/photos)
THE best Flat jockey in Britain is riding at Wolverhampton. It isn’t Jim Crowley or Silvestre de Sousa or Ryan Moore or Adam Kirby. They are all statistical minnows compared with Mr Simon Walker.
So far this year, Kirby has a strike rate of 25 per cent. That’s not bad but it won’t lick Walker’s boots. Nicky Mackay’s is better, at 30 per cent but even Moore, supposedly the best jockey in the world, has managed only 33 per cent.
In comparison with Walker, horseracing’s version of World Darts Champion Michael van Gerwen, the rest are also rans.
It’s easy to compare Moore and Walker and the comparison is compelling. In Britain this year both have had six rides.
Moore has ridden two winners while Walker has ridden five, for a strike rate of 83 per cent. My case rests. You can regurgitate that old chestnut about lies, damned lies and statistics but the fact is that if Moore and the others are going to match the champion, they’re going to have to try harder and get better.
As, admittedly, Walker will need to if he’s to conjure a win out of Goldmadchen (Wolverhampton 2.10).
Walker won a similar race on James Given’s nine-year-old two years ago but the mare isn’t as good nowadays. Nor, on the other hand, are most of the others.
While Walker has ridden 114 winners on the Flat and Serena Brotherton 100, Miss A Peck is having her first ride under Rules and Mrs D Scott only her fifth.
In amateur riders’ races those sort of statistics are worth noting, although Brotherton will need all her considerable experience to get the 13 year-old Giant Sequoia involved.
Alex Ferguson has a good record statistically both on the Flat (seven wins from 34 rides) and over jumps (eight wins from 51 tries) but those tempted to back High Bridge, 16-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, will be keen for him to continue to improve.
High Bridge has shown himself to be a high class hurdler but it will be a challenge for Ferguson as well as the horse to triumph against the best jockeys as well as horses.
Ferguson’s mount on Monday, Senor George, is an unlikely winner but so are most of the motley band. The obvious choice, consistent and in form, is Frivolous Prince.
His rider, Ellie MacKenzie, has had only six rides under Rules but has a winner, a second and a third to show for them and it will be interesting to see how she fares.
Meanwhile, you know how you see a horse and think it’s going to do well, then doesn’t? Well, Capilla’s running at Lingfield (2.50).
After doing well in Irish points, in 2013 Capilla won a bumper on his debut at Ffos Las, prompting the observation that at £22,000 he was a “snip” and “should make a fine soft ground chaser.”
Despite winning twice off modest handicap marks in 2015, Capilla has been increasingly disappointing. Still, Lazarus gave everyone hope.
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