Irish trainer Liam Burke, now 7lb claiming jockey, made return to the saddle at the age of 64 at Sligo on Sunday, some gap between his last winner which was 33 years ago. Prior to the race he told the Racing Post, I’m 64 and a half, a year and a half from the bus ticket. I was crippled for years with my knees, but I got my two knees done. I wasn’t fit to ride anything before, but I feel like doing it now. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I don’t go with strange women, this is my kick’.
He got back into the racing saddle on 5-year-old Shumard which he trains and of which he owns a leg in the 5.35 at the Irish course in the Racing Again August 4th I.N.H. Flat. Starting at 40/1 the combination only beat two home, finishing sixth of eight runners. While some might have been disappointed with that Liam was enthusiastic. Hold told Racing TV, ‘I enjoyed that. He ran a nice race, but I was not fit enough I’ll be better for the run and I’m looking forward to my next ride already’.
Long breaks, though admittedly not quite so lengthy, didn’t stop Platform Nineteen winning the marathon, 135th Year Of The Watt Memorial Handicap, over 2 miles at Beverley on Tuesday. Michael Bell’s 5 year-old hadn’t been seen on a racecourse since October 2019 but won by 5 ½ lengths going away under Clifford Lee despite that 648 day absence at odds of 5/1. The even money favourite Golden Flame couldn’t land a blow back in second. The winner was tipped up by shrewdie Andrew Mount in his gg.co.uk column who pointed out that Clifford Lee had an eight from 18 record when riding for Michael Bell and that the winner had previously improved for the fitting of cheek pieces. He’s likely to be now aimed at the Cesarewitch.
That never day die attitude was also prevalent in equine terms at Newton Abbot on Monday when the 11 year-old maiden over obstacles Candyman Can won the newtonabbotracing.com Handicap Chase at 33/1 under James Best. The veteran chaser who hadn’t won a race since 2015 on the all-weather at Kempton, provided trainer Laura Hurley her first winner of the season. The winning pilot appeared scarcely able to believe it himself. He told Luke Harvey on At The Races that the rain softened ground helped in that they’d gone just that half a stride slower so his mount had been able to run in his comfort zone, feeling that he had a chance he went for a ‘fly or die’ jump at the last and that his mount had really toughed it out.’
Also winning on the same card, battling to win the Watch Sky Sports Racing On Sky 415 Handicap Chase a neck on Tom George’s Darling Du Large was Jonathan Burke. Jonathan is the son of Liam with whom we started this story. Talking after the race the jockey said that it had been a long time since his mount’s last win and that the trainer and owner had been patient with her’. Luke Harvey presenting for Sky Sports Racing, quipped that had he been beaten he was going to suggest his dad should have ridden his mount instead, to which the jockey laughed that he’d definitely have won on her! Age and lay offs too are just numbers after all aren’t they!