The King claims another big win
‘‘The way he races best I had to use the draw, I had to show intent.’’
Michael Coleman takes great pride in his professionalism, something that goes hand in hand with a commendable record in racing’s elite competition.
On Saturday the senior statesman of Matamata jockey ranks took his tally of Group One wins to 37. Sticking to a precise game plan, he rode Ugo Foscolo to an all-the-way in the $400,000 Sothys New Zealand 2000 Guineas at Riccarton. Leading from start to finish over 1600 metres on one of the most demanding of tracks is not something you try to do without actually knowing what you’re about. As Ugo Foscolo’s rider in all but one of his starts, Michael had a full understanding of the horse’s capabilities – and his short-comings.
The latter category was glaring on the only occasion that Ugo Foscolo had been beaten in his six starts, when sixth in the Hawke’s Bay Guineas after racing erratically in the field. A return to form in his final lead-up to Riccarton wasn’t enough to convince onlookers that the Stephen Marsh-trained gelding was a leading contendor for Saturday’s big race, and he was very much the underdog. ‘‘Fine by me,’’ figured the man on top, ‘‘that makes my job easier.’’
From the inside gate Michael took the race by the throat, sooling Ugo Foscolo to an uncontested lead and never being headed. The leggy bay’s final strides were getting shorter but he still had more than a length to spare over the first of the Matamata pair Savile Row and Heroic Valour.
‘‘The way he races best I had to use the draw, I had to show intent,’’ says Michael. ‘‘I didn’t stack and rack them, I just let him stride along.‘‘
The win extended a superb big race record for the man they call The King, taking his Group One tally to 37 along with the interes- ting statistic of having ridden at least one elite winner in every season this millennium. At age 47 Michael is prepared to say that he won’t ride forever, but just when he decides to pull stumps on his career remains an open book. One clue could be his tally of New Zealand wins which stands at 1,967.
Not that I’m suggesting he’ll call it quits once he’s ridden the remaining 33 winners to reach the milestone mark of 2,000 – that’s something for the man himself to decide.
Group One win number 37 for Michael Coleman as Ugo Foscolo leads all the way in the Sothys New Zealand 2000 Guineas.