For South African-born jockey, Gavin Coetzee, it’s all about opportunities and to make a personal mark in racing.
After a moderate tally of approximately 50 winners in 13 years, Coetzee recognised his career at home had stalled.
He rode internationally in Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia in a bid to revive his livelihood.
But it could be a coastal town 900 kilometres north of Perth that lies at the mouth of the Gascoyne River on the Indian Ocean that impacts his future most.
It’s a long way from Kimberley in South Africa to Carnarvon in Western Australia, but judging by Coetzee’s performances on the weekend, it may prove an inspired move.
In a dream WA debut he rode a double, guiding home Hugo Drax in the opening race and Trade Tip in race four, to launch the new Carnarvon season in style.
“It’s all about opportunities and racing in South Africa is not in a healthy state,” Coetzee said.
“It was a real battle and there are so many rules and regulations which are so different to Australia.
“I have always admired Australian racing and they are in a different class.
“I’ve ridden in eight different counties including New Zealand and New Caledonia.
“But I want to base myself in Australia and make the move permanent.”
Coetzee turned to Carnarvon after a four month stint in Melbourne failed to yield any success.
He had 11 rides between December and March with his best result at Wodonga when Swashbuckler ran fourth.
“I tried to make a go of it in Melbourne, but again it was a lack of opportunities,” Coetzee said.
“It’s very hard to breakthrough in that environment and make new connections.
“My partner saw an advertisement and that’s how we ended up in Carnarvon.”
Coetzee says the transition from the mecca of racing in Melbourne to a lower profile in Carnarvon had gone seamlessly.
“I love it and it feels like home away from home,” Coetzee said.
“The track is amazing and seems right up my alley.
“I’m hoping it can be my launching pad, but you are only as good as the horse you ride.
“I have not set plans, but you never know what may come from it.
I’m keen as mustard and would like to remain in WA.
“I would rather be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond.”
RWWA: Julio Santarelli