March 23, 2023

Mello’s Liam Burke (66) has written his name into Irish racing folklore.


With Irish runners and riders hoping to make some history on the water at Cheltenham this week, a veteran Mallow jockey has etched his name into Irish racing folklore.

Jockey/trainer Liam Burke, aged 66, rode 9/2 shot Teacher’s Glory to a bumper finish to victory at Limerick on Sunday – his first victory under the rules since 1988.

In bringing home his first winner in more than three decades, Burke, father of Cheltenham Festival winner Johnny, also became the oldest jockey to win under Irish rules in a century.

The previous record holder was the ‘Grand 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, has decided to return to the saddle in 2021 after two knee replacements, once again holding an amateur license since the early 2000s.

An accomplished jockey in his prime, Burke, who had 17 previous wins under rules and 38 point-to-point victories, the last of them in 1991, had hinted that if he found the right mount in his stable he would saddle him. But will be back.

Clearly he felt that the Teuchters were finishing five lengths clear of their nearest challengers in Glory, with the Willie Mullins trained favorite Special Cadeau, the all-Irish runner at Limerick in the Cheltenham (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race. Good luck for

Ironically, Jamie Codd, runner-up to Gordon Elliott, rode Lucky Lerain at just six years old in 1988 when Burke rode his last winner, while the other three riders in the four-strong chasing pack were born at that time. There were not.

After his win, a jubilant Liam Burke admitted that not everyone thought his return to the saddle was a good idea.

“I lost weight and it was a crazy idea to come back. They all thought I was crazy – but you have to do it, don’t you? It’s not easy but it’s the buzz that Drives us forward,” she beamed.

“I just wanted to get that buzz. I wanted to get the feeling of winning if I could. I was struggling to get it but at least we got one. It felt good. The last hundred. The yard was long, though,” he admitted.

He said Sunday’s win topped 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 might not be finished in the saddle just yet.

“I’ll probably keep going,” Burke said.

“I can ride some more. When I’m enjoying it and I’m still at weight, I can do it. I can either stop, you never know, it depends. What humor am I in,” he quipped.

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