Coetzee braving double trouble

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 April, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 April, 1999, 12:00am

South African jockey Felix Coetzee late yesterday underwent an operation to pin a broken collarbone and today awaits a decision which will determine his Hong Kong future.

The decision has nothing to do with the broken collarbone and ligament damage suffered in his fall from Treble Gold just past the line at Sha Tin on Wednesday night. It will be made by the Licensing Committee of the Jockey Club.

Like several currently retained riders, the former South African champion jockey is keeping his fingers crossed that his trainer, David Hill, will be permitted a stable jockey next season.

Coetzee's immediate future locally this season is not particularly bright and he may only be able to return for a few late-season meetings.

Originally, a torn ligament was diagnosed but further X-rays - taken after the rider had spent much of the night in pain - showed a fracture which was pinned yesterday.

Doctors have told Coetzee he must expect at least four weeks for a recovery period.

Tonight's Licensing Committee meeting will rule on the number of trainers permitted to retain stable jockeys and may also decide on any changes to the licensing of Club jockeys.

Although there have been some conflicting reports, it is accepted that the Racing Department would prefer to see eight trainers have permission to retain jockeys - down two from the present 10.

This must be approved by the Licensing Committee and there have been some rumbles about the cut-back.

All trainers who had put in for permission to retain a jockey next season - believed to be the 10 who presently have a stable rider and three who have not - were asked last week to re-confirm their interest in doing so. Again, it is understood that all re-confirmed their applications although one or two may have given either/or suggestions to the Licensing Committee.

The bottom line remains that if the Licensing Committee accepts a recommendation for eight retainers - although a compromise of nine is not thought to be out of the question - changes will be made tonight.

Current stable riders in the gravest danger of losing out are dual Derby-winning jockey Alan Munro, retained by David Oughton, and Coetzee.

Also in a risky position is Welsh-born David Harrison, who is retained by former champion trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee.