Victor returns to stomping ground
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.