Col­gan’s re­turn from in­jury strik­ing

Matamata Chronicle - - Building -

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.

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