Colgan’s return from injury striking
The past six months have been a frustrating time for Vinnie Colgan, but on Saturday at Te Rapa he made a perfect comeback with a win on his first day back in the saddle.
Vinnie had been on the injured list since being thrown from Durham Town in the Telegraph Handicap at Trentham on January 21. Controversy surrounded the incident after Durham Town’s line had allegedly been taken by the Nash Rawillerridden Atomic Force as the big sprint field crossed the junction to the course proper.
The shortage of room forced Durham Town against the running rail, catapulting Vinnie into the air. By sheer luck he narrowly missed the 400-metre marker post attached to the running rail, but he didn’t escape uninjured when he hit the ground.
The worst injury was to his hand, with a thumb fracture proving the most difficult to heal. To begin with it was wired with a plaster cast applied. Specialists then contemplated surgery but opted for another plaster before eventually clearing Vinnie to resume trackwork a month ago.
All the while what would have been wining rides were going the way of other jockeys, the most significant of them the country’s champion three-year-old Silent Achiever, who went on to win the New Zealand Derby under James McDonald.
The drawn-out injury also cost Vinnie the opportunity to ride John Sargent’s Queensland winter carnival team, which came up with a number of wins including Quintessential’s Queensland Oaks.
“It wasn’t easy having to watch everything from the couch,” said Vinnie, a member of that select group of recognised big race jockeys.
“In the end I just had to give it the time it needed, but it was a big relief to get the all-clear.”
Once he had settled back into a regular trackwork routine, Vinnie decided on a return to race riding at this Wednesday’s seasonopening Tauranga meeting. Those plans changed, however, when his agent Garry Cossey came up with a couple of eye-opening mounts at Te Rapa last weekend and as luck would have it, one of them turned out to be a winner.
Vinnie was unplaced on his first Te Rapa ride but the skill that has been a hallmark of his riding was well displayed in the last race of the day as he brought home Storm In for victory.
As it happened, Storm In is prepared by Durham Town’s trainers Dean and Donna Logan and Vinnie wore the stable colours that he was wearing when he fell from Durham Town.
“It was the first thing that went through my mind past the post,” Vinnie said after winning the Woods Group Premier on Saturday.
“How about that, here I am in the same colours. That can’t be too bad.
“The body felt good out on the track today and I’ve pulled up well. Nothing’s confirmed but I’m hoping to pick up some nice rides for the spring. I’m ready for whatever comes along.”
The past week has also been something of a turning point in the career of another Matamata- based jockey, Cameron Lammas.
On Saturday he was a late callup for Taumarunui Cup lightweight High Kin when she gained a start in the country’s richest winter handicap after topweight Indikator was scratched with a stone-bruise.
Cameron made the most of his only ride on the Te Rapa card by bringing home High Kin an easy winner of the $80,000 feature. That took his 2011-12 tally to 32 wins and provided him with his first stakes win for the season.
Rides have been hard to come by for the talented horseman, but that situation is bound to improve following his appointment as number two stable rider for Te Akau Racing in the new season.
Matt Cameron, who was engaged in a down-to-the-wire battle with Lisa Allpress for the jockeys’ premiership as this article went to press, will continue as the stable’s No 1 jockey, but that will still leave ample opportunities for Cameron.
“Matt has done a fantastic job for us and for his own career since joining the stable,” said Te Akau principal David Ellis.
“Having Cameron Lammas as well now to ride trackwork, help with the education of our young horses and ride on raceday will complement Matt perfectly.”
The final chapter in the fight for the jockeys’ premiership at Monday’s Oamaru race meeting was added to by John Sargent’s last chance to match or better the record of 108 wins set two years ago by Te Akau’s former Matamata-based trainer Mark Walker.
With 107 wins, a lead of 22, going into the last day of the season, John already had his first New Zealand premiership parcelled up and took the attitude that any further wins from his eight-strong Oamaru team would be a bonus.
“The goal at the start of the season was the premiership and it’s been great the way things have worked out,” he said.
“A new record would be good but it’s not the end-all, if it happens it happens.”
This week John’s South Island stable foreman Andrew Carston will head to Sydney, where he will assume a similar role in the new stable being established at Warwick Farm.
Away from the racetrack, the 2012 breeding season is fast approaching, making it timely to look back on events of the past 12 months in that sector.
Waikato Stud has had another outstanding year, headed by the joint achievements of its stallion quartet of O’Reilly, Pins, Savabeel and Fast ’N’ Famous.
Each of them has been represented by at least one Group One winner in the period under review, while in what could be only described as an extraordinary sequence, O’Reilly, Pins and Savabeel have dominated stallion premierships.
On the domestic front, O’Reilly claimed his second New Zealand sires’ premiership as well as being the leading sire of three-year-olds, Pins, who finished third on the domestic table, took the Centaine Award for combined global earnings, with O’Reilly second and Savabeel fourth, while Savabeel, Pins and O’Reilly were second, third and fourth to Zabeel on the table for combined New Zealand and Australian earnings.
The district’s other major thoroughbred nursery, Rich Hill Stud, came away with another significant stallion title with Any Suggestion New Zealand’s leading first season sire.
Rich Hill also takes credit as the breeder of the hugely talented galloper Mufhasa, who on Friday night was named Waikato Horse of the Year at the Group One awards dinner conducted by the Waikato branch of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association. Waikato Stud also played a prominent part in proceedings. Garry Chittick was named Personality of the Year, and two employees, Kerry McVeigh and Bev Spriggens, won annual achievement awards.
Welcome back: Vinnie Colgan returns to scale on Storm In at Te Rapa on Saturday.