Michael Walker’s resilience is truly remarkable.
The top jockey has had more adversity come his way through a spate of serious injuries than anyone should be asked to deal with … and if he had backed off and cried ‘enough’ nobody would have blamed him one iota.
But the man is back riding winners again after a full year’s absence from race riding.
Twelve months … much of it of pain and suffering (both physician and mental) … is a long time and that is what Walker had to endure following a fall at Pakenham back on May 13, 2021, in which his mount collected his calf with her back leg, an unfortunate contact which led to Walker being rushed to hospital with a broken leg and a developing compartment syndrome.
It was a very serious situation.
As explained on Orthoinfo, ‘compartment syndrome occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels. This pressure can decrease blood flow, which prevents nourishment and oxygen from reaching nerve and muscle cells. Compartment syndrome can be either acute or chronic. Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency. It is usually caused by a severe injury. Without treatment, it can lead to permanent muscle damage.’
Apart from dealing with that, Walker was also later told he would need both an ACL and MCL reconstruction. With the function of both of those ligaments either disrupted or damaged, the flexibility and general free ruse use of the knee can be badly compromised.
As serious as the situation was medically, so too was it an extremely unhappy experience on a personal level for Walker.
“Everyone knows I’m a very confident person but, I’m not going to lie, there were times throughout that twelve months where I actually broke down a little bit,” Walker told Racing.com
“It affected me mentally … and I think our newborn baby snapped me out of it. Being hands on with the kids took me out of it but, don’t get me wrong, there were three or four times there where I had a full meltdown.
“It wasn’t a good place to be in, but I’m back and raring to go, although I will be restricting my rides to around 57kg, probably until the end of winter.”
Perhaps appropriately, a horse named Jigsaw is helping Walker put the pieces back together.
The Cindy Alderson trained three-year-old provided Walker with his first winner back at Cranbourne on May 13, 2022 … exactly a year after the fall that took out of action … and Walker won again on Jigsaw at Caulfield on May 28 to announce his return to the Metropolitan winning scene.
“Yes, there was a lot of uncertainly regarding by comeback,” acknowledged Walker. “Obviously that uncertainty was around the compartment syndrome and then my knee reconstruction.
“It was only about six weeks ago that they had to take a nerve from the front of my body and put it somewhere else … so there was a lot of uncertainly, but that’s behind me now and I’m very glad to be back.”