Coetzee can't wait to be reunited with Pegasus
It's been a long time coming, but Felix Coetzee gets back onto Floral Pegasus in Sunday's Champion Mile after unwittingly handing the Group One winner-in-waiting to Gerald Mosse almost 16 months ago.
Coetzee was the original jockey for Floral Pegasus and they had a pretty awesome record together - seven starts for three wins, two seconds and a third, plus one defeat on a wet track.
The South African master (pictured) missed out on the chestnut's next three wins in favour of claiming riders, but was invited back for the New Year Challenge Cup on January 1, 2007.
'Tony had Silent Witness in the race and although he was struggling at the time, and getting close to retirement, no other jockey had ever ridden Silent Witness,' Coetzee said. 'I told Tony if I can't ride Silent Witness, I certainly didn't want to be riding against him and I'd prefer not to have a ride in the race.'
That admirable loyalty came at a price, even though it was a small price compared to the nine Group Ones and veritable immortality that he and Silent Witness achieved as a combination. Mosse won that New Year race on Floral Pegasus and stayed with the chestnut for all bar one run since.
In addition to that Group Three race, Coetzee missed wins in the Mercedes-Benz Classic Mile and the Derby Trial, as well as seconds in the Derby, International Mile Trial, Stewards' Cup and Hong Kong Gold Cup.
Floral Pegasus has run well in each of 10 runs since his last win in the Derby Trial, including a fourth in last year's Champions Mile, but hasn't taken that extra step which he has threatened to do for so long.
'I haven't been on him for so long, I'm looking forward to it,' Coetzee said. 'We had a great association in his younger days and he was always a horse you could ride very positively.
'This time, we're drawn the outside barrier so we'll just have to wait and see how the race unfolds.'