Coffey Set To Star At Caulfield

Apprentice jockey Harry Coffey has three rides at Saturday’s Cystic Fibrosis Summer Race Day at Caulfield.

It marks the second year in a row Coffey will have a ride on the program after he partnered the Darren Weir-trained Clang And Bang into fourth position at his first Saturday metropolitan ride 12 months ago.

Coffey, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis (CF), is the ambassador for Country Racing Victoria’s Hospital Helping Hand Program, an initiative designed to support those with the condition which has so far raised close to $35,000.

As someone dealing with the most common, incurable, genetically acquired, life-shortening chronic illness affecting young Australians today, Coffey said the annual race day is one he is particularly keen to make sure he is a part of.

“Obviously being the ambassador for the Helping Hand Program it’s a meeting that my manager, my dad and I work quite hard at getting ride at,” Coffey said.

“It’s a great day and to ride at the meeting is even better.”

To keep on top of the illness, every day Coffey has two physiotherapy sessions as well as 30 tablets to assist with digestion and help keep infection at bay.

Every three to four months, he goes into hospital for what he calls a “tune-up” where he spends five days having treatment in hospital before returning home for another week of medication.

For Coffey, who recently turned 18, the birthday was a particularly significant milestone.

“I’ve just turned 18 and when you turn 18 you have to get a transfer from the Royal Children’s Hospital to an adult hospital,” he said.

“I’ll have one more tune-up at the Royal Children’s Hospital and then I’ll be going to the Alfred.

“The Royal Children’s Hospital doctors really pushed for a tune-up every three to four months where as at the Alfred it will be my own responsibility to come in when I feel I need it. It’s about being an adult and taking responsibility.

“Being 18 there are also a lot more temptations socially but it’s just a part of the job that you’ve got to put your social life aside sometimes and be committed to your riding.”

Currently feeling particularly well in himself, Coffey said the biggest hindrance of his condition and the resulting tune-ups was losing momentum as a jockey.

“If you ask any jockey they’ll say they lose momentum when they get suspended or get injured because you just naturally lose rides on horses that you have been riding,” Coffey said.

“What I try to do is not book a time to go into hospital unless I’m unwell. If it happens that I’m not getting any rides, or I’m going through a bit if quiet period or I’m suspended then I’ll go into hospital and get the tune up out of the way.

“That’s the beauty of being well; you can choose when you have the treatment rather than needing it.”

All things considered, the fact Coffey has managed to ride 93 winners since his debut in October 2011 is an extraordinary achievement.

Currently with nine metropolitan victories, including a double in Adelaide on his 18th birthday last month, Coffey said he is aiming to have ridden 20 metropolitan winners by the middle of 2014.

“My goal is to ride in town regularly and I’m obviously claiming 3kg in town at the moment and hopefully during the next winter I can get the claim down to 2kg,” he said.

“That’s a goal that I think is achievable with the way that I’ve been going at the moment.”

Turning the attention to Caulfield on Saturday and Coffey nominated Flying Hostess, set to line up in the $80,000 Carpet Call Handicap (1400m) and one of two rides for leading trainer Darren Weir, as the pick of his three mounts.

“I’d say Flying Hostess should go well after her very good second at Moonee Valley last Saturday, it will just be a case over whether she handles backing up or not,” Coffey said.

Cystic Fibrosis Victoria volunteers will be selling raffle tickets and rattling tins on course, as well as operating a merchandise stand located at the rear of the Rupert Clarke Stand to raise much-needed funds.

Aside from the action on the track there will also be plenty of free entertainment for the whole family on the front lawn including Christmas card making, an inflatable slide, a 9-hole mini golf course and a clown balloonist.

The racing gets underway with the running of the $80,000 Flemington Equine Clinic Plate (1000m) at 1.00pm and concludes with the $80,000 Ballymore Stables Handicap (1700m) at 5.05pm.

Courtesy of Ben Asgari –

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