By Michael Manley
Young jumps jockey Aaron Mitchell continued his impressive first year as a jumps rider with a winning double at Coleraine on Sunday which was also followed by two flat winners to make it a red-letter day for the 24-year-old.
It gave Mitchell a flying start to the new racing season, with four winners and a third from six rides at Coleraine.
Mitchell, who had his first jumps ride in May, took his jumps tally of winners to six from only 16 rides at a strike rate of 37.5%.
Amazingly he has ridden two doubles in that haul as he also recorded a double at Casterton on June 27.
Mitchell claimed the feature race the Moredun Hill Casterton Steeplechase (3600m) at the meeting which was transferred to Coleraine on Steve Pateman’s up and coming fencer Historic.
Mitchell showed coolness beyond his experience as he let two horses in The Dominator and Zedman surge ahead of him with 1000 metres to go as he bided his time in third placing.
Before the turn he let Historic go and he quickly gathered that pair in and sprinted clear to win by two lengths over The Dominator.
His next winner came for Patrick Payne when Eckhart won the Selkirk East Pastoral/Mane On Henty Casterton Hurdle (3300m).
Initially, Mitchell sat back on Eckhart but with a lap to go he made a move around the field to take the lead which he then shared before dashing clear with 600m to go.
The former leading Western Australian apprentice retired from race riding two years ago but decided to come back to riding as a jumps jockey after riding track-work at Patrick Payne’s.
Pateman said he was impressed with Mitchell’s riding ability over the jumps.
“He’s a beautiful rider. He has lovely hands and he rates them well,” Pateman said,
Pateman said he would consider giving Historic one more start this time in but on the proviso that next Sunday’s meeting would be transferred from Coleraine to Casterton.
“That’s not my decision to make but the Coleraine track is quite heavy as it's had a lot of racing. It raced on Sunday as a Heavy 9 and Historic doesn’t really like the bog tracks,” Pateman said.
Pateman said he was already focusing on next year’s Great Eastern Steeplechase as Historic’s main target for 2022.
“He’s one of the first horses we bought and he didn’t cost much. He’s like a family pet to us,” Pateman said.
This was Pateman’s fourth win in the Moredun Hill Steeplechase as a trainer. He won with Surging Wave in 2017 and 2019 and Aldous in 2018.
Pateman was impressed with the performance of winning ride Marinated who is trained by former leading jumps rider Richard Cully.
“He ran super. He’s a promising horse. He loved the conditions,” Pateman said.
Pateman said he would ride Sivar for Peter Lafferty in the Great Western Steeplechase (3600m) at Coleraine next Sunday.
Trainer Eric Musgrove and jockey Darryl Horner Junior continued their recent winning run when they combined to win the Peter Tomkins Maiden Hurdle with El Diez.