Mallow’s Liam Burke (66) writes his name into Irish racing folklore
WITH Irish runners and riders hoping to make a bit of history over the water at Cheltenham this week, one veteran Mallow jockey has carved his name into Irish racing folklore.
t the tender age of 66 jockey/trainer Liam Burke rode the 9/2 shot Teuchters Glory to victory closing bumper at Limerick on Sunday – his first victory under the rules since 1988.
In bringing home his first winner in more than three-decades Burke, the father of Cheltenham-festival winner Johnny, also became the oldest winning jockey under Rules of Ireland in a century.
The previous record holder was the ‘Great Old Man’ of the Irish Turf, the late Harry Beasley, who rode to victory in the 1923 Maiden Plate at Punchestown at the age of 71.
One of the country’s leading trainers, Liam Burke decided to return to the saddle in 2021 following two knee replacements, taking an amateur licence once again having not ridden under the riles since the early 2000s
An accomplished jockey in his heyday Burke, who had 17 previous wins under rules and 38 point-to-point victories, the last of these in 1991, had hinted he would return to the saddle if he found the right mount in his stable.
Clearly he found that in Teuchters Glory finishing five lengths of his nearest challengers, which included the Willie Mullins trained favourite Special Cadeau, in the Good Luck To All Irish Runners In Cheltenham (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race at Limerick.
Ironically, second place rider Jamie Codd on the Gordon Elliot trained Lucky Lyreen was just six-year old when Burke rode his last winner in 1988, while the other three riders in the four-strong chasing pack were not even born back then.
Following his victory, a jubilant Liam Burk conceded that not everyone thought his getting back in the saddle was a great idea.
“I lost weight and it was a mad notion I took to come back. They all thought I was nuts – but you have to be to do this job, don’t you? It isn’t easy but it’s the buzz that gets us going,” he beamed.
“I just wanted to get that buzz. I wanted to get that winning feeling if I could. I was struggling to get it but at least we got one. It felt good. The last hundred yards was long, though,” he admitted.
He said Sunday’s win ranked high on his list of achievements, including his Galway Plate victory as a trainer.
While the 66-year old admitted it took him “ages to get back right”, he hinted that he may not be finished in the saddle just yet.
“I’ll probably keep going,” said Burke.
“I might ride a few more. While I’m enjoying it and I’m still at the weight, I might do it. I might stop either, you wouldn’t know, depends on what humour I’m in,” he quipped.