Horse racing joy as 66-year-old jockey rides first winner since 1988 in Ireland

Thirty-five years on from his last win in the saddle, Liam Burke proved age is just a number after crossing the line first at the age of 66 on Sunday.

The Cork trainer and jockey took double honours after preparing and piloting Teuchters Glory to victory in the Good Luck To All Irish Runners In the Cheltenham pro-am finale at Limerick. Burke—father of fellow jockey Johnny—clocked his last winning ride back in 1988 but bounced back to the head of the field to make horse racing history.

"That was mighty," bristled Burke after ending a 12,723-day wait between wins. "I lost weight and it was a mad notion I took to come back. My knees gave me trouble all along but got both replaced, although it took me ages to get back right. I ride out four or five horses every day and was 66 last Monday.

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"I previously rode 38 point to point winners and 17 on the racecourse and actually lost my 7lb and 5lb claims in the past, before the numbers went back up. My last point to point winners were in 1991. "

At 66 years of age, Burke is the oldest winning rider under Irish rules in a century, per the Irish Independent. The man from Mallow had retired from the saddle and spent almost 20 years on the sidelines before returning in 2021, having had both of his knees replaced in the interim.

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It proved a match made in heaven as Teuchters Glory pulled away late to seal triumph at odds of 9/2. Not content with Sunday's win being his last as a jockey, Burke went on to suggest he "might ride a few more" after proving he still has what it takes.

The extent of the age gap was highlighted by the fact second-place finisher Jamie Codd was only six the last time Burke took a winning pole. None of the other three riders in Sunday's race had even been born at that point.

He claims a rare piece of racing history as the oldest jockey to win in Ireland since Harry Beasley won in Punchestown in 1923, aged 71 at the time. The sport has evolved since then, however, and one could argue the depth of young talent makes Burke's feat equally, if not more impressive.

“They all thought I was nuts, but you have to be to do this job, don’t you?” the veteran jockey continued. “It isn’t easy but it’s the buzz that gets us going. 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. I was hoping someone wouldn’t come to me. You’re hoping to get the winning pole back to you, but he stayed travelling for me.”


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