Swede taste of victory for veteran apprentice

BARRY LICHTER
Last updated 18:08 23/12/2012

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An extra piece of Christmas cake is on the menu for Swedish apprentice Victoria Gatu who celebrated her first winner as a professional rider at Te Rapa yesterday.

Gatu, who at 27 is in the veteran category by comparison to her fellow apprentices, was having her first ride back from a two-week holiday at home in Sweden when she kicked home $35 outsider Bob Valdez in the Video-In- Print 1400.

Gatu has spent most of the past six years overseas, mixing travelling with riding trackwork in Italy and competing as an amateur in Sweden and Spain, where she rode her first winner in 2008.

"I'm getting pretty old now," said Gatu, who 11 months ago answered Te Rapa trainer Chris Wood's online advertisement for a track rider.

"I looked it up on the map and thought New Zealand would be an interesting country to see.

"But I've got a New Zealand boyfriend now so I think I'll be staying put for a while."

Gatu, who trained at the British Riding School, said she was encouraged to take out her apprentice licence by Wood, who believed she would make a good 4kg claimer.

"It was nice to get the win today - I've had quite a few seconds and thirds," said Gatu, who scored at her 29th ride.

Although her mount, five-year-0ld Bob Valdez, was an outsider, Gatu said he had been working well.

"He's a bit of a character, like a grumpy old man. He's the angriest one we have in the stable."

Gatu, who walks at 49kg, and claimed down to 51.5kg yesterday, said she would be able to enjoy her Christmas dinner without fear of getting overweight like most of her fellow riders.

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