Michael Coleman has become the man for the big occasion this season.
The experienced Matamata rider is not among the top 10 on the premiership but there can be no complaints about the quality of his wins, as he continues to pick off feature races.
Remarkably, almost a quarter of Coleman's 30 wins this term have come in black type races, with the likelihood of more to come at Te Rapa on Saturday.
Coleman, 47, recorded his seventh stakes win for the season when winning the listed Wairarapa Breeders' Stakes on Charmont on Waitangi Day, in a rare trip to Tauherenikau.
That brought his tally of black type wins over the past two and a half years to 26.
His major wins this term include the group one Two Thousand Guineas and three other group races and he has also been runner-up in three group one races.
He is in 15th place on the premiership but only premiership pacesetter Danielle Johnson has had a better season in terms of stake earnings, and not by much.
Johnson has had twice as many wins as Coleman and 150 more rides but leads Coleman by just $6000 in terms of stakes. The pair are among six riders to have topped $1 million in stakes this season, the others being Opie Bosson, Leith Innes, Matt Cameron and Craig Grylls.
"I don't travel around much and the phone is not going as often as it used to but things have been ticking over pretty well," Coleman said. "I've been getting support from Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman and Stephen Marsh and it's a big help to have their backing."
Coleman will be concentrating on quality over quantity again at the premier meeting at Te Rapa. He had five confirmed mounts by yesterday, including leading prospects in the three group races.
He will partner favourite Savile Row in the $400,000 group one Herbie Dyke Stakes - New Zealand's richest weight-for-age race - Perfect Fit in the $200,000 group one NRM Sprint and Nicoletta in the $100,000 group two Sir Tristram Classic.
Coleman has won more than 300 races at Te Rapa and has turned winning the Herbie Dyke into a habit
He will be seeking a sixth win in the race on Saturday, his first victory coming on Sounds Like Fun, in 1988, when it was still a group two race. Coleman has added wins on Bluebird The Word (2000), Mission Critical (2008), Veloce Bella (2010) and Costume (2014).
Thirteen horses remained in the 2000m Herbie Dyke yesterday, with three-year-old Savile Row a $4 favourite ahead of Volkstok'n'barrell and Consensus who shared the second line at $4.50. Jon Snow, another three-year-old, was at $7 and the only other entry at single-figure odds.
Savile Row, a Makfi colt with Pam Gerard and Mike Moroney, has had only six starts. He was runner-up in the Two Thousand Guineas and two starts in a fresh campaign have produced a rating 85 1200m win at Ellerslie and a second, beaten a nose, in the Levin Classic (1600m) at Trentham.
Coleman committed himself to the Derby ride on Savile Row following the Ellerslie run but missed the Levin Classic mount through suspension.
"I rode him in a gallop this morning [yesterday] and he worked very well," Coleman said.
"The distance won't be a worry this week, though another 400m [in the Derby] might be a question mark. But you never know till they try and he's a good quality galloper."
The NRM Sprint is not among Coleman's 36 group one wins.
Perfect Fit will meet up to five other group one winners in the NRM, including Kawi and Start Wondering, but is a quality galloper and has been placed in the Railway Stakes and the Telegraph at her last two starts.
"She [Perfect Fit] is a genuine group one horse and worked really well this morning," Coleman said. "She doesn't have to improve much to get her head over the line."
Only seven horses were nominated for the Sir Tristram Classic yesterday with Nicoletta one of the obvious threats to the unbeaten Volpe Veloce.
- NZ Racing Desk