Top Jock Leaves Academy

SA Jockey Academy full steam ahead after value added by maestro

Felix Coetzee

Felix Coetzee

Multiple SA and international champion jockey Felix Coetzee has left the SA Jockey Academy after being engaged on a consultancy basis on 1 April this year.

The announcement that the 54 year old champion jockey would be taking up the position came about shortly after his retirement from the saddle on 20 February 2014.

Coetzee retired from race-riding as he was struggling with the wear and tear following hip replacement surgery in 2013.

He rode 3508 winners in a glittering career where he was crowned SA Champion three times and won 75 Group 1 races internationally.

SAJA Principal Graham Bailey confirmed in a telephone interview with the Sporting Post that Coetzee

SAJA Headmaster Graham Bailey see with Dr Blade  Nzimande

SAJA Headmaster Graham Bailey Dr Blade Nzimande and Ntokozo Gumede on horse bac

was no longer at the academy.

“Felix’s international experience, work ethic and his success at the top of his profession made him an invaluable asset in our training structure, but he was only here on a consultancy basis and it was never going to be a long-term arrangement. The door has been left open and we are hoping that we are going to be in a position to draw on his vast knowledge and experience again in the future,” said Bailey.

Bailey added that Coetzee was not in a position to be remunerated and he said that realistically it was not workable that any entity could draw on the services of such a highly qualified individual free of charge for an interminable length of time.

“What Felix did in his time here was to add value and give us direction. Riding Masters Laurence O’Donoghue and Steven Jupp are holding the reins together and doing a fine job.”

SAJA went through a trying time with staff changes and negative media but things appear to have settled down well, and the proud Principal added that three students had achieved University Exemptions last year.

“Our matric class this year is even stronger and I am looking forward to better results. These youngsters and our Educators are to be commended on what they achieve. One only needs to consider the demands placed on an apprentice in terms of his daily commitments, and that is not factoring in race-riding and travelling in some cases.”

Bailey added that the appointment of Leonard Strong, formerly of Catthseta, in a Communications role at SAJA had also seen some stability as he brought valuable experience from his own field to the institution.

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