Michael Walker defied doctors orders to steer talented staying mare Fanatic to a gritty win in Saturday’s Listed Sandown Cup (3200m) at Ladbrokes Park before being stood down for his remaining two rides.
Walker was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday but refused to miss the coveted steer on the Oaks winner, who made it two wins on end in Australia with a strong saying performance in the $150,000 event.
In a race that saw Darabad take up the roll as a tearaway leader, the
daughter of Shocking tracked race favourite Gallic Chieftain throughout
the two-mile contest, moving to the lead at the 200m before fending off
the late challenge of Swacadelic who finished second two years running
after being beaten by Qewy in 2016.
Trainer David Hayes was full of praise for Walker’s fortitude in trying circumstances and suggested Fanatic could now be set for the Group 2 Adelaide Cup (3200m) in March.
“Full compliments to Michael Walker, he rode Almoonqith the same way in this race (in 2015).” Hayes said.
“I think Michael is struggling with pneumonia, that’s why he’s pulled up a bit short but I’m sure the mare has pulled up well.
“We’ll probably look at a race like the Adelaide Cup and then maybe look at Sydney but she’s a Kiwi that doesn’t like wet tracks.”
Walker was stood down by the on-course doctor following the Sandown Cup and was replaced on his later rides aboard Icon of Dubai (Sandown Guineas) and Foundation (Eclipse Stakes).
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