Coome hangs up his saddle

Coome hangs up his saddle


Terry Butts analyses news from the North Queensland racing scene.


ADRIAN COOME, the jockey who has dominated Central Queensland for the past decade or more – and generally rated as one of the best jockeys ever to graduate from Callaghan Park – has hung up his boots. Just 50 short of a 1000 winners in a spectacular 18-year career.

Retirement had been on his radar for a couple of years.

A desire to spend more time with this family, the rigors of wasting was taking its toll and the urge to try something else, were the driving forces behind the decision that shocked the racing fraternity at the weeked.

To crack the 1000 win barrier was always his personal goal as a jockey, but a fall and an injured knee at the Twin Hills meeting two weeks ago exacerbated his decision to call it quits. It was at the same Twin Hills meeting he had his last ride on the aptly named Howzat For Luck. It was odds on, trained by a long time stalwart Glenda Belle and of course, duly won.

Coome will be long remembered for his many triumphs that included three Rockhampton Cups (Writer, Ruling Force and Colour Charge) and three Townsville Cups (Writer, Hussonator and Payteevee). But he will be remembered most for his association with that champion sprinter Our Boy Malarchi on which he rode to 12 victories from 13 rides. He was second on him in Brisbane.

OBM won three Rocky Newmarkets, but should never have won the last one,” Adrian said.

“He fell out of the stalls, was hopeless at the furlong and still won with 60kg beating Playtime.

“He was truly an amazing horse.”

Coome had no family background in racing apart from his father who owned a few in Rocky. It was from this association the young Adrian set his sights on being a jockey. At first he was indentured to Daryl Hansen at age 15 and later transferred to Dan Critch. He was quick to hit his straps and attract the attention of southern trainers, and at 18 ventured to Sydney to join the Portelli stable.

“I only stayed two months – that was perhaps my greatest mistake,” said Coome.

Terribly homesick for CQ, Coome decided to return but just before he was due to leave he was offered the ride on a horse named Mr Ubiquitous at Randwick. It ran second and the trainer was highly impressed. He even offered him a position in his stable. Coome refused.

The trainer’s name is Chris Waller who was just starting to make his way into Sydney racing.

Adrian still wonders what might have been...

But he came back to hometown Rocky and rode winner after winner on all tracks in Queensland. He won the Rocky premiership seven times, and was Queensland’s premier jockey three times. He doesn’t know how many premierships at Mackay.

He has many fond memories of a truly sterling career. He would do it all over again, but what remains indelibly in his mind is a track incident that took the life of close family friend and fellow jockey Carly Mae Pye at Callaghan Park three years ago last Friday.

“I was in the trial that day when her mount broke its leg and crashed over the top of her. It was and is the saddest moment… something I will never ever forget.”

You get the feeling that it might have been that incident when Adrian Coome started to think about the future. And that new era in his life begins next week at Moranbah where the jockey will start a new career in electronics. On the future of an industry that he mastered and leaves with no regrets, he says:

“Racing has become too politicised – except for some progress in jockeys’ safety requirements the game hasn’t progressed in 10 years. Especially in the country, where a lot of blokes are doing it tough.

“That’s the downside.

“But, yes I will miss the race days and the buzz ... Well, a lot of it anyway.”

THERE are some things money cannot buy. And try as it might a $10m purse for a race with the unlikely tag of The Everest (aka Elitist)  at Randwick last Saturday failed to attract one single overseas contender. And the Sydney racing hierarchy all raved about a world event.


They also skited about the crowd of 30,000.

Three times that number will cram into Flemington to celebrate the Melbourne Cup in a few weeks. And the race that will be watched again by millions worldwide. A race that carries just a third of the prize money as last Saturday’s Randwick sprint that some might say is a race restricted for the rich and famous.

And the Melbourne Cup will be contested by elite stayers from Europe, New Zealand and Japan.

Put simply, Sydney has its harbour bridge – Melbourne has its Cup.

And that’s the way it will always be, in spite of the continuing ravenous envy and greed of the New South Welshman (aka cockroaches) as they try to rival or outdo Melbourne and its Cup carnival.

TALKING of the elite there is a great story on the UK’s Racing Post headlined Bloodstock figures go public with claims of malpractice in the sales ring.

One breeder claims he went to the UK yearling sales with two fillies in 1999.

“I was approached with offers by sundry people – one who was willing to bid 250,000 pounds for her if I accepted 150,000 pounds. The other 100,000 was to be shared with him.”

Apparently it is common practice in the UK. And it’s called luck money. Here it might be called kick back.

But it wouldn’t happen here... would it?


The story Coome hangs up his saddle first appeared on North Queensland Register.


From the front page

Sponsored by