ADRIAN Coome, the jockey who has dominated the riding ranks in Central Queensland for the past decade or more and is generally rated one of the best to graduate from Callaghan Park, has hung up his boots.

Retirement has been on his radar for a couple of years and it comes just 50 short of a 1,000 winners in a spectacular 18-year career.

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 weekend.

To crack the 1,000-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 that he had his last ride on the aptly named Howzat For Luck. It was odds on, trained by a long-time stalwart Glenda Bell and of course, duly won.

Adrian 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,” said Adrian.

“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 Gary 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 Coome started to think about the future. And that new era in his life begins next week at Moranbah where the jockey will commence 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...

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