The King claims another big win

Matamata Chronicle - - Out & About - DENNIS RYAN

‘‘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.

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