Vic­tor re­turns to stomp­ing ground

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STEWART ni­

Lo­cal jockey Michael Cole­man will be hop­ing for a re­peat per­for­mance of last year at this Satur­day’s Team Weal­leans Mata­mata Cup day. Cole­man was the win­ning rider in the $50,000 fea­ture last year, bring­ing Otak­i­trained Am­be­rio home to beat Atom Cat by a head.

The Mata­mata-based jockey said it was al­ways good to race at his home track, es­pe­cially at the big days such as Mata­mata Cup and Breed­ers’ Stakes.

‘‘We nor­mally get a good lo­cal crowd and a lot of peo­ple get­ting be­hind you,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s al­ways a good at­mos­phere.’’ Cole­man will be start­ing in 8 or 9 races this year and is hop­ing for a hard track and fine con­di­tions.

‘‘The last few years it’s been rain­ing or rain­ing lead­ing up to it so hope­fully we get some good weather this year.’’

Cole­man has rid­den 1747 win­ners in New Zealand and about 60 over­seas, with 31 Group 1 wins in New Zealand.

He won the New Zealand Derby in 2003 on Cut the Cake and again in 2004 on Xcel­lent.

In 1998, he won the Raf­fles Cup in Sin­ga­pore and has twice come third in the Mel­bourne Cup.

Grow­ing up, his fa­ther was a trainer in Hast­ings, Ma­nurewa – where he worked with Garry Chittick – and then Mata­mata. ‘‘I just sort of got in­ter­ested in it,’’ he said. ‘‘I started rid­ing track work down here [in Mata­mata] for a cou­ple of guys be­fore school when I was about 13 or 14.’’

In 1985, when he was 16, he started in his first race at the Mata­mata track.

‘‘I was a bit lost on it . . . didn’t re­ally know where I was go­ing, but I made it around safe any­way.

‘‘It’s an adren­a­line rush ev­ery time you go out there.’’

Cole­man has com­peted in the Mata­mata Cup al­most ev­ery year and last year was the first time he has taken out the fea­ture.

He also ran five sec­onds and won the Colch­ester Engineering 1200 on Whosy­our­mas­ter.

HOPE­FUL: Michael Cole­man this year af­ter his New Zealand Thor­ough­bred Breed­ers’ Stakes win at Te Aroha Race Course.

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