Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Mick Fitzgerald

 

Nowadays, Mick Fitzgerald is best known as a television presenter on ITV Racing but, in his younger days, was one of the most successful National Hunt jockeys of his generation. Before being forced into retirement after sustaining neck and knee damage in a fall from L'Ami in the 2008 Grand National, Fitzgerald rode 1,295 winners, including 14 at the Cheltenham Festival.


Fitzgerald was leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival twice. On the first occasion, in 1999, he achieved a notable double on Call Equiname and See More Business, both trained by Paul Nicholls, in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, respectively. That year, he also won the Triumph Hurdle on Katarino and the now-defunct Cathcart Challenge Cup on Stormyfairweather, both for Nicky Henderson. On the second, in 2000, he won the Arkle Challenge Trophy on Tiutchev, the Festival Trophy on Marlborough, the Stayers' Hurdle on Bacchanal and the Cathcart Challenge Cup on Stormyfairweather again; all four winners were trained by Nicky Henderson.


Remarkably, despite a 15-year association with Nicky Henderson – who is, nowadays, the leading trainer in the history of the Champion Hurdle, with eight wins – Fiztgerald never won the two-mile hurdling championship. In fact, in twelve attempts, two third places, on Blue Royal in 2000 and Afsoun in 2007, were the best he could muster.