(By John Jenkins)
Jockey Michael Coleman brought up another milestone in his illustrious race-riding career when recording back-to-back wins aboard Elle Eye Are and Youwantmore at today’s Auckland meeting at Ellerslie.
Coleman, 49, went into the meeting on 2099 career wins in New Zealand and his two victories took that tally to 2101.
He is still well short of the New Zealand record of 2260 wins held by David Walsh but justifiably ranks among the most successful jockeys produced from this country and has also amassed more than 40 Group & Listed race wins in New Zealand.
Coleman, who has earned the nickname “The King” by his peers, has been troubled by health problems for a good part of his riding career but a great will to win has seen him overcome that adversity and he was seen at his vigorous best in both wins today.
Elle Eye Are began only fairly in the Rating 82 1600 and was back second last for most of the race. Coleman stuck to the inside and saved many lengths by cutting the corner entering the home straight and Elle Eye Are was quickly in a challenging position. The four-year-old Rip Van Winkle mare obviously relished the heavy-10 track conditions and worked clear of her rivals over the final stages to win by 2 lengths.
Elle Eye Are is prepared by the Cambridge partnership of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman and they took out the quinella on the race with Crafty Jess finishing second, a short beck in front of third placed Andoyas.
Elle Eye Are was one of the favourites in her race but Coleman showed he is just as potent aboard outsiders when he got the 15 to one chance Youwantmore home first in one of the day’s feature races, the $35,000 Thomsons Foodservice Cornwall Handicap.
Coleman positioned Youwantmore perfectly from the start of the 2200m event, fourth on the fence, and then improved inside runners coming to the home turn to take a clear lead on straightening for the run home.
The challengers started to come from both inside and out but Coleman never missed a beat in the concluding stages and Youwantmore responded to hold on for a half-length win over Etah James, with topweight Zacada a further half a length back in third place.
Youwantmore was recording her ninth win but her first since taking out a 1600m Rating 85 race at Te Rapa in April last year.
The six-year-old Sufficient mare, trained at Te Awamutu by Robert Priscott, had recorded five previous wins on heavy tracks and obviously appreciated the heavy-10 conditions at Ellerslie today.
Coleman began a long and illustrious career as an apprentice in the 1985/86 season, chalking up a modest 13 wins. The following season that figure soared to 58 wins and he has steadily built on that tally ever since.
He is probably best known as the regular rider of New Zealand Horse of the Year Xcellent, who he partnered to four Group 1 wins including an enthralling last to first victory in the 2005 New Zealand Derby. He also finished third aboard the Pentire gelding in that year’s Melbourne Cup.