Known as one of the most impressive jockeys of his era, Michael Fitzgerald won over 1,300 races in a career that almost never took off. The barren spell of the late 80s and early 90s nearly forced him out of the game, but success soon came. Before long, he was one of the most revered and respected jockeys on the planet.
Major wins at he likes of the Grand National and Cheltenham seen him rise up the ranks and become a name who is truly revered in the sport that he loves. Despite nearly giving up and moving to the less competitive Australian circuit, Fitzgerald stuck it out and in time became a jockey who, to this day, many still look up to.
From his first big win at the Grand National in 1996, Fitzgerald went from a contender to one of the best in the business. However, despite the incredible promise of his career, injury was always a problem for him. He had found injuries overly common for a jockey, and his last action was to sustain spinal problems during the 2008 Grand National. At just 38, he had to call it a day with the threat of one day becoming paralyzed if he continued.
Planning to retire in 2007, he stayed on for one more year before calling it quits and now works as a presenter and analyst in the racing circuit. He also is a coach at the British Racing School. He also works with Nicky Henderson, a long-time associate, who he works with to mastermind new race tactics and the like.
Achievements & Highlights
Major Wins – 1,300 career wins. Grand National (1996), Cheltenham Gold Cup (1999), Hennessey Gold Cup (2005).
Associations – See More Business, Trabolgan, Rough Quest, Nicky Henderson.
Earnings – ?
With a composure on the track as cool as its name, Eclipse is one of the most famous horses of the era that it comes from. A powerful stallion of British origin, the stunning chestnut was bred by the Duke of Cumberland himself, and was owned by William Wildman and Dennis O’Kelly.
An undefeated horse across its career, it took on 18 races and won every last one of them, before retiring into the sunset. Afterward, it led a second ‘career’ as a wonderful sire, and today is seen as the pedigree in the vast majority of successful, modern thoroughbred horses.
Given the time that it ran in, the races that Eclipse won are rarely heard of today, if ever. From the first win at the Winchester King’s Plate to the Newmarket October King’s Plate, this fantastic beast took an incredible sum of success. Starting at the age of five, it won its first race with absolute ease. Early success seen it bought by Dennis O’Kelly, and ridden by John Oakley. Apparently, Oakley was the only one who could handle Eclipse, given its wild nature and hard to handle temper.
Also, it allegedly won all of its races without having to be fully extended – it was simply better than all who came before it. With over 63 miles ran during its career, it’s one of the most memorable horses in racing history.
While it may have run so long ago that nobody alive seen it run, this is a horse that has entered the book of legend for all the right reasons.
Achievements & Highlights
Wins – Winchester King’s Plate (1769), Salisbury King’s Plate (1769), Canterbury King’s Plate (1769), Lewes King’s Plate (1769), Lichfield King’s Plate (1769), VS Bucephalus (1770), Newmarket First Spring King’s Plate (1770), Gullford King’s Plate (1770). Nottingham King’s Plate (1770), York King’s Plate (1770), 6yo+ Great Subscription Purse (1770), Lincoln Heath King’s Plate (1770), Newmarket October King’s Plate (1770)
Associations – William Wildman, Dennis O’Kelly, John Oakley, the Duke of Cumberland.
Earnings – 2,149 Guineas.