Pukekohe apprentice Alysha Collett, one of New Zealand's most promising young jockeys, was born to ride.
The 18-year-old, the younger sister of outstanding young rider Jason Collett, showed she had inherited plenty of her family's natural riding ability when she guided Matiya's Pride to a win in the De Bortoli Wines Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
It was the teenager's first ride at a Sydney Saturday meeting and she showed plenty of tactical nous to bring the flashy grey mare home a convincing winner.
Collett, 18, is in Australia on a two-week scholarship with Sydney's premier trainer Chris Waller as part of a programme he sponsors with the Auckland Racing Club, which helps foster young Kiwi riding talent.
Older brother Jason won the scholarship last year and when he came over to Sydney he made a huge impression with the Waller stable, winning 24 city races in just three months.
"I've been riding for as long as I can remember," Alysha told the Herald Sun. "I was riding in pony clubs when I was a kid but I didn't really think about becoming a jockey until a few years ago.
"As I was growing up, I was more into netball and touch rugby but I wasn't that good at school and pretty soon I started riding trackwork.
"I love being around horses so it was natural that I would take up an apprenticeship."
The scholarship provides Collett with two weeks' work experience under Waller, but after the way she handled Matiya's Pride, the premier trainer might be looking at luring her back to Sydney next season, particularly as she can still claim 3kg despite riding more than 100 winners.
Collett gave Matiya's Pride ($13) the run of the race before the rising 8-year-old mare, whose grey coat is almost white these days, sprinted past the leaders in the straight to win by a length from Shadow Minister ($17) with Natch Catch ($3.90) nearly four lengths away third.
"I am very excited," Collett said. "I wasn't expecting to win.
"I'm only here for two weeks but this has been a great experience. I'm really enjoying Sydney racing. It's a lot different to back home."
She was the longshot of Waller's three runners with stablemate Madam Nash, the $3.50 favourite, tiring to finish fifth after leading early.
"No weight on her back, 51kg," was stable representative Liam Prior's explanation for Matiya's Pride's win. "She got a lovely run and, to Alysha's credit, she rode the mare very well."
Prior said Alysha's brother was soon to return to Sydney racing, possibly on a permanent basis.
"Jason has an open invitation to return to Sydney," he said.
"We realise he was keen to win the [New Zealand apprentices] premiership this season and is on track to do that."
Anthony Cummings' leading Golden Rose contender Your Song returns to the stable this week but the trainer is also looking to a few others to line up in the season's first group one race.
Last-start winner Soapbox and She's a Fox will be entered in the fillies' division of the Rosebud qualifiers on Saturday, while Hard Marker and the unraced Call Me Ishmael could step out in the males' heat.
The Rosebud qualifiers at Warwick Farm are the final juvenile races of the Sydney season and are lead-ups to the listed Rosebud at Warwick Farm on August 11.
Cummings will use other races to get Your Song and the well-credentialled Ninth Legion to the A$1 million Golden Rose (1400m) for 3-year-olds on September 15.
"I'll decide after trackwork on Tuesday which ones run on Saturday," Cummings said yesterday.
"There are plenty of races leading up to the Golden Rose.
"I think Saturday's race is the right race for Soapbox. I'll try to get as many as I can to the Golden Rose."
Unbeaten triple crown winner Pierro heads the Golden Rose market at $3 with Black Caviar's little brother All Too Hard at $4.20 and Blue Diamond Stakes winner Samaready $6.
Your Song has won the latest two of his three starts, the most recent on July 7 after which he was given a couple of weeks on the water walker at home.
- Additional reporting AAP