At 48, Coetzee continues to make his own waves

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 February, 2008, 12:00am

Sha Tin belonged to Felix Coetzee yesterday as the brilliant South African landed a stunning four-timer that might easily have been more in other circumstances, but he wasn't complaining.

Coetzee only had seven rides on the programme, with one an unlikely chance and two - Natural Fatchoy and Helene Mascot - unlucky runners, but he brought home the remainder without fail as a contributor to training trebles for both John Size and Caspar Fownes.

Coetzee opened the day with an upset at 23-1 for his old boss Tony Cruz aboard Happy All Around and that set the tone as he happily followed with King Prawn Supreme and Special Days for Size then the Fownes-trained Gallant Lion to close the meeting.

'It's been a great day - a shame about getting beaten in the Derby Trial but hopefully we'll go one better in the Derby itself,' grinned Coetzee, who is approaching his 49th birthday on March 7 but continues to ride as well as any jockey around.

Size will attest to that. Coetzee's 82 rides for the Australian this season have now produced 18 winners and it was classic Coetzee magic on both Size winners as he tested his skill with two horses who are not doing everything exactly by the book at this point.

Special Days has been a problem at the start but Coetzee got him away and in front where his class was too much for the opposition, while King Prawn Supreme did want to run along rather more than ideal when he was left in front.

'He began well and led, but he was keen and I was happy when Douglas Whyte went around me on Spring Sun,' Coetzee said. 'But once he got there, Douglas slowed the speed up, my guy still wouldn't relax and I ended up in front again. He did a good job.'

Size said he is waiting for the penny to drop with the former French horse, who was tried over longer distances in Europe but is certainly not ready for that here.

'That's why I'm restricting him to 1,200 metres for the moment - he's just not settling and I'm waiting for him to come back to his riders more. But even pulling he's managed to win a race so he's got something,' Size said.

'He's quite a gross horse, he keeps plenty of condition on him so I'm happy to keep sprinting him.'

Special Days has been brought undone at short odds twice before when the pace was slow and he was overracing in the field, so neither would have been unhappy to see him out in front and dominating yesterday. 'He has a bad habit of missing the start so that was important to him today and when he jumped I was happy,' said Size.

'Perhaps being in gate one with no horse inside him made a bit of a difference - a bit less for him to think about in the gates.

'Ideally, he would settle better than he did today, but it became a stamina issue when he was in the lead and keen and he seems to have plenty of stamina. He just went a click slow enough to be able to keep going.'

Dynamic duo

Felix Coetzee and John Size have combined 82 times this season for 18 wins and for a healthy strike rate of: 22%