Funeral services for Thomas M. “Tommy” Walsh, a champion steeplechase jockey who was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2005, will be held Monday, Nov. 18, at the Edward L. Collins Funeral Home in Oxford, Pa., at 11 a.m. He died Wednesday at the age of 79.
Consistently among the sport’s leading jockeys during his 12-year career, he was champion for the first time in 1960 with 29 jump victories and again led the standings in 1966 with 37 jump wins.
He was a member of the remarkable Walsh family of steeplechase horsemen and learned the sport from his father, James Walsh, at his parent’s Great Neck, Long Island, riding academy. He had his first mount on St. Patrick’s Day in 1956, shortly before his 16th birthday, and he rode frequently for his uncle Michael G. “Mickey” Walsh, also a Racing Hall of Fame member.
He ranked second in the win column the following year, behind Hall of Fame member Paddy Smithwick, and reached the top spot in 1960. He had 31 jump wins in 1963 and was second in the standings behind Joe Aitcheson Jr. When top-level mounts came his way in 1966, he secured his second title, finishing 10 wins ahead of Doug Small Jr., who died last month.
During his career, he rode champions Barnabys Bluff (1962), Bon Nouvel (1964-1965), and Mako (1966). He was aboard Theodora Randolph’s Hall of Fame member Bon Nouvel for a 30-length victory under 170 pounds in the 1965 Temple Gwathmey at Aqueduct. That was his second of three victories in the traditional season-ending hurdle stakes.
He had a notable streak of five consecutive victories in the Grand National, then run at Aqueduct or Belmont Park, beginning with two victories by Sun Dog in 1959 and 1960. He also won in 1961 with Independence, with Barnabys Bluff in 1962, and Tuscarora in 1963.
After Paddy Smithwick rode Bon Nouvel to a Grand National win in 1964, Walsh came back with a win aboard Mako in 1965.
Funeral services are pending.