IF any fanatics new to racing were ever to ask what jockey Felix Coetzee was all about, this photo of the 51-year-old master jockey, released by the Hong Kong Jockey Club just hours ago when Rocket Man took his final stride to dead-heat for victory in the inaugural Group 2 Cathay Pacific Jockey Club Sprint at Sha-Tin racecourse, will reveal much about him!
As dedicated and focused as he was at age 16 when he won his first feature race, the 1975 Clairwood Winter Handicap on Kentford, Coetzee, low down with those familiar power-pumping arms, rode for all he was worth to keep owner Fred Crabbia’s sprinter going for Patrick Shaw’s stable to share the first stake in this $HK3 million sprint spectacular.
Felix personfies the world versatile with, among many other major successes no fewer than seven South African Gold Cups, five J&B Mets, three Durban July’s, two Hong Kong Derby’s and 16 wins on sprinting superstar Silent Witness on his long roll of honour.
Gauteng’s Academy Master Gary Waterston, in a recent interview, described what in his opinion were the attributes of a top jockey, saying “Most of all, a good jockey strives towards improvement. Felix Coetzee is the ultimate professional because he never stops learning and adapting to change. Even today he works constantly at improving himself, so does Doug Whyte.”
We salute Felix Coetzee for being racing’s perfect role model and a consistently superb rider over three-and-a-half decades!
At last, hard work, dedication and a passion for horses saw a reward for Rocket Man, the trainer, Pat Shaw associate trainer, Jacci Detert and Fred and Manuela Crabbia. The best is yet to come. Well done, we are proud of you all. Go South Africa.