Mighty Mick Fitzgerald sat in for Ruby Walsh on this week’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast and opened up about punching one of his idols, Ruby’s temper and how jockeys would get each other back during races if they felt slighted.
As well as covering the state of racing at the moment, Glorious Goodwood and giving out a few tips for the weekend. Fitz, the former top Jumps jockey and current ITV Racing, Paddy Power and Sky Sports Racing pundit got a grilling from Paddy and Tom about his career.
And, well, things turned out as they normally do when you leave a bunch of men in the same for too long, to petty scraps in the good old days. You can hear Fitz in full, well as tonnes of other quality racing chat, on this week’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast below or wherever you get your pods from.
“Have I ever had a fight in the weighing room? When you’ve got a lot on the line, tempers do tend to flare because lads are under pressure, “Fitz admitted on this week’s From The Horse’s Mouth podcast. “You’re expected to deliver the goods and whether you’re disappointed with your own horse or whether things aren’t going well at home or whatever, you can let it carry on when it comes to the weighing room.
“I’ve ridden in races where lads have basically overstepped the mark. There’s almost an unwritten rule about certain things in a race that you do and you don’t do and sometimes lads have crossed the line.
“You’ll have to say to them ‘look, don’t do that’ and it is very much a little bit handbags at 10 paces sometimes and a little bit of shouting and don’t do this and you dirty b*stard or f*ck off – there’s plenty of that goes on, lots of raised voices, lots of shouting, lots of pushing and shoving and, like I say, very often it’s just handbags and there’s nothing made of it.
“But occasionally it does boil over and I had a run-in with Richard Dunwoody which, in many ways now when I look back, I was disappointed with because he was one of my idols. But he overstepped the mark – he was wrong in a race at Ascot.
“He pushed himself into a gap – one of the other lads got interfered with quite badly and nearly came down. I came back into the weighing room and I said to him ‘Look, what the f*ck do you think you’re doing?’
“He basically threw his saddle down and came at me. So, I ended up hitting him and then we were pulled apart in the weighing room. Sometimes in a race you have to stand up for yourself and you have to make a mark and it’s very often a little bit like that.
“If you get pushed around in a race as a jockey, everybody’ll take the p*ss out of you and they’ll keep nicking your spot in a race – you can’t let that happen. You have to close the door at the right times – you can’t allow people to get into a nice spot that you’re in so there is times when you have to basically say ‘don’t do it’.
“Would I have won the fight? I’d like to think that I’d have done pretty well!”
As Ruby wasn’t present to defend himself the lads asked Mick about their absent colleague’s temper and the answer may not surprise you.
“Does Ruby have a temper? Ruby’s like the ice cold stare isn’t he? Say nothing and he’ll wait.
“There’s a great story – George Duffield who’s a really nice man, mild-mannered, his nickname in the weighing room was ‘Killer’. ‘Killer George’. George would say nothing. One day you’d overstep the mark and he’d wait for you. The next day you’re in a race and when you’re trying to poke into his ‘posi’ [position] and he’d basically just wipe you out.
“And Ruby is very much like that – say nothing, but he’d be watching you and he’d be waiting for you to try and get there and he’d just close the door. He’d literally give you a little warning ‘don’t do that again’.”
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