All jockeys who rode in the Melbourne Cup were sent a text message on race morning to remind them of their obligations using the whip after six riders were sanctioned following last year’s race, including Walker.
Jockeys are restricted to using the whip five times on a horse before the 100-metre mark of any race.
Asked about his actions, Walker expressed remorse on Radio Sport National on Wednesday: “When your adrenalin is pumping and it’s the biggest race of your career and you’re a chance to win … everything goes out of your mind.
“You forget about everything because adrenalin takes over. Any athlete in elite sport when you have a chance to reach the pinnacle [can be like that].
“Then I get home and the abuse I’ve copped from people that don’t even know me … it took its toll on me a little bit overnight.
“I can only apologise … and I will do my best to not let it happen [again]. I can only apologise for bringing racing into the spotlight when we should really focus on the tremendous training performance by Danny O’Brien and wonderful ride by Craig Williams.”
Walker’s riding percentage from finishing second in the $8 million handicap totalled $55,000 before his fine, and he stressed the padded whip didn,t hurt horses and was only designed as an encouragement tool, largely because of the noise it generates.
Stewards said Walker’s previous whip breaches outside of the last two Cups had been minimal.
Walker flew his daughter specifically to Melbourne from New Zealand to watch the race on her birthday, and admitted to feeling like he had let down his family in the moments after the race having not won the Cup.
Critics of Australia’s whip guidelines have questioned why stewards didn’t lodge another protest after the Cup against Walker, which potentially could have shuffled Prince Of Arran down the finishing order.
The current rule was introduced in 2015, but the only high-profile case in which any Australian stewards have altered the result of a race came at a Sunshine Coast meeting in 2016. They changed a dead heat result when one rider was found to have used the whip more than allowed.
Instead, stewards have been satisfied to fine and suspend jockeys for being negligent with the riding crop, but have resisted opening a can of worms by disqualifying runners as a result.
Walker said if he hit Prince Of Arran another 20 times, it wouldn’t have made a difference to the result.
On Prince Of Arran, he said: “I love the animal and if I could take Prince home and let him sit on my couch or lay in bed and watch TV I would. If I could keep him in my backyard I would.
“They’re just beautiful, outstanding, amazing animals and I’ve been very fortunate to make a career out of partnering such amazing thoroughbreds.”
Six-time Melbourne Cup-winning owner Lloyd Williams has urged Australian racing administrators to introduce a rule where jockeys are only allowed to use a whip during a race for safety purposes.
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.