GUN Kiwi apprentice Jason Collett made the perfect start to his Australian riding career by booting home a surprise winner for new boss Chris Waller at Canterbury yesterday.
Collett, who is in Sydney on a three-month loan, had only two rides at the meeting and surprised himself as Needwood Lad caused a major boilover in the final race of the day.
"The speed was on throughout, which I thought would help," Collett said. "At the 600m he started to pick up the bit and I thought he would run a nice fourth or fifth.
"His momentum kept building coming to the turn and then he rushed through the field and hit the front too soon.
"He ran out of gas with about 100m to go and I was thinking, 'Oh no', but he stuck on very well."
Collett, 19, the son of trainer Richard Collett, has ridden more than 200 winners in New Zealand.
"I won a scholarship and was able to spend some time with Chris Waller last year," he said.
"I feel much more comfortable this time around. I know what to expect now in terms of the pressure and how competitive the racing is.
"I know a few more of the boys and have a lot more confidence.
"It's great to be able to be here in Sydney for a stable like Chris Waller. I wasn't expecting too much from Needwood Lad, he's a stayer fresh up. I actually thought Savannah's Choice was a better ride."
Trainer Grahame Begg unearthed a promising galloper at Canterbury in the form of Barsinola, who won the opening race on debut with ease.
Invest, a nicely bred filly out of Unearthly, also broke through for her maiden win. Trained by Clarry Conners, the Dehere filly proved too strong in the run to the line, wining by three-quarters of a length, and should have more wins in store.