The Moonee Valley Racing Club is setting out to raise over $30,000 for The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation through the sale of our 2017 Cox Plate Carnival Charity Pins.
The 2017 Cox Plate Charity Pins will be available to purchase for $5 during race meetings at The Valley from Ladbrokes Cox Plate Qualifier Raceday on September 9, all the way through to the Ladbrokes Cox Plate Carnival on October 27-28. They will also be available through volunteer pin sellers at each event during Ladbrokes Cox Plate Carnival week and at the MV Legends and Junction Club gaming venues.
The partnership with The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation was launched last week at Living Legends in Greenvale alongside 1998 Cox Plate winning legend Might And Power and the 2017 Ladbrokes Cox Plate trophy. Also in attendance was young hoop and past RCH patient Harry Coffey and his lifelong doctor and friend in RCH Associate Professor John Massie.
The life of the jockey is hard enough as it is, with the early mornings, strict weight management and the dangers of riding horses at the elite level. But for 21-year-old Coffey, these things are even tougher as he not only has to deal with all the above daily, but he also has to manage dealing with the debilitating disease Cystic Fibrosis. Despite all of this, Coffey has worked extremely hard to now become one of the leading young riders in Victoria.
“The Royal Children’s Hospital has been very important in my life, I have spent a lot of time there when I was a kid up until the age of 18,” said Coffey.
“I went for a lot of hospital admissions and the doctors were really good there and they made me as well as I am today and that’s meant that I have been able to be a jockey and do what I love.”
Harry has spent so much time at The Royal Children’s Hospital that he has built lifelong friendships with his carers, including A/Professor John Massie who was at Living Legends to help launch the Cox Plate Charity Pin partnership.
“I have built very strong relationships with the doctors and nurses over the years,” says Coffey.
“One of my nurses actually came to Wycheproof for my first ever ride so that was pretty special and I still get the odd letter from John (Massie) and some of the other nurses saying well done on all of my success so far. It’s really great that they keep following me and they’re quite proud of everything that’s taken place for me.
A/Professor Massie still remembers the day he first met Harry as a baby.
“The first time I met Harry he was two or three years old, bright faced smiley kid,” recalls Massie.
“He had a lot to do to keep himself well and had Mum and Dad supporting him in doing that, but as he got older he was able to start taking that on himself, working hard at his cares every day.
“In his early teens he starting coming into hospital two weeks at a time every three months, that was a big ask and I’m sure he didn’t like me for it, but he knuckled down and he did it.”
Harry’s story is well known in the racing industry after the brilliant Racing.Com documentary ‘Harry’, which aired late last year. The running joke was that Harry had chosen a profession that scared his doctors to death.
“I think one of the hardest, if not the worst thing he could be doing, is being a jockey, particularly managing his weight,” says A/Professor Massie with a wry grin.
“I want him to be heavier, he wants to be lighter to get more rides and we have our ding-dong battles over that.
“In saying that, what Harry has achieved already in his short career is fantastic. The metaphor of his racing and his health, it’s lots and lots of hard work, good management and a little bit of good luck.”
Harry recalls it slightly differently.
“I was never told not to be a jockey funnily enough, just not to be a painter because the paint fumes will get in and wreck your lungs,” reflects Coffey.
“They might have said that they wouldn’t advise me to be a jockey, but also said if I don’t follow my dreams then what’s the point of you getting up of a morning, so we just needed to find that balancing act between my health and my profession.”
The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation is a distinguished fundraising organisation with over 27 years of experience supporting the hospital’s goals above everyday operations. Through philanthropy, they are changing the future of healthcare for children and young people across Australia and the world.
“The Royal Children’s Hospital don’t just look after the patients, but the entire family unit,” says Coffey.
“A couple of times when I have had a bit too much family down there when they were visiting me for my admissions, they would go and stay at the Ronald McDonald House or motels nearby which The Royal Children’s Hospital would help sort out for you. In every aspect of supporting you in health and your family they’re happy to do so and that’s what makes them so great.”
100% of proceeds from the sale of the 2017 Cox Plate Charity Pins will be going to The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation and the MVRC will also be looking at other fundraising initiatives throughout the Ladbrokes Cox Plate Carnival to help reach our target.
“Fundraising initiatives for The Royal Children’s Hospital such as the Cox Plate Charity Pin are absolutely vital,” says Massie.
“To look after kid’s like Harry to set them on their way, we need funds from the community and it’s fantastic for the Moonee Valley Racing Club to be supporting The Royal Children’s Hospital.”
So, in closing, is winning the W.S. Cox Plate one of Harry’s ultimate goals?
“100% it is,” says Coffey.
“I love riding at The Valley and I have had a lot of success there, especially when I was an Apprentice.
“If I could win a Cox Plate one day it would be great, it makes me excited just thinking about it, so hopefully we can get it done.”
Something tells us he might just achieve that one day, much in part to the care and support of The Royal Children’s Hospital throughout his formative years.