Harry Coffey is an amazing young man who has shown outstanding dedication and commitment to succeeding in his chosen field.
This year, Harry has undertaken Certificate Four in Racing (Jockey) through Racing Victoria and with his horse-trainer father Austy.
He attends race meetings up to four times a week, at places like Mildura, Kilmore, Warrnambool and the Yarra Valley.
His job not only involves riding races, but maintain his weight and fitness; talking to trainers to get rides; liaising with trainers and owners before and after a race’ analysing previous races to work out strategies for a particular horse; and talking to the media.
In addition, Harry has attended school three times a week - where he has been studying for his VCAL - and travelled to trade school in Melbourne once a month.
And that’s all on top of riding track work from about 6am each morning.
His dedication is certainly paying off.
In just over 18 months, Harry has won more than 80 rides, including three in Melbourne.
He is now placed seventh in the country apprenticeship, despite most of Harry’s peers riding six days a week. He is also the only school based apprentice jockey in Victoria.
Harry says he chose a school based apprenticeship so that he could gain a Year 12 certificate as well as his jockey qualification.
That, he says, will provide opportunities for future study and work, which is especially important given the high risk and sometimes short-term nature of a career as a jockey.
Harry has faced and overcome range of challenges throughout his studies.
Distance has been a big challenge for Harry. Some days he might travel for five hours to get to a racetrack, ride a few races, and then travel five hours home. Until a month ago, he didn’t have a drivers licence either, so he had to organise transport to each race meeting.
And while he doesn’t like to focus on it, Harry also has to deal with his cystic fibrosis. Harry has regular treatment – including a fortnight in hospital up to four times a year - which means he loses form and has to train even harder to get back to his pre-hospital form.
But Harry hasn’t let his condition stop him either on or off the track.
He has used his position as a jockey to raise awareness about the genetic condition, telling his story to media like The Guardian, the Herald Sun, The Age and TVN Racing.
He was a guest speaker at the last year’s Cystic Fibrosis Victoria Summer Race Day at Caulfield.
And he’s an ambassador for the Country Racing Cystic Fibrosis Hospital Helping Hand Program.
Harry’s efforts both on and off the track were recognised earlier this year when he won the Victorian Regional Achiever Award.