MICHAEL Flick was always more than just another Coffs Harbour jockey.
A humorous and well-loved character, Flick rode 397 winners in a career cut short by injury, which featured four wins in the Sawtell Cup during his 1980s heyday.
“It’s 20 years since I retired after breaking my neck in a Grafton race fall and 30 years since winning my first Sawtell Cup in 1981 on Pure Silva for the late Mal Gerrard,” he revealed.
“Mal was a great bloke to ride for and that particular win was pretty sad as the horse was injured in running and had to be put down after the race.
“Two years later I won on the good mare Misty Sahra for Val Faggotter and won two more on Beau Jacob and Peaceful Kingdom by the end of the decade.”
He won the Toormina (now Daniel Baker) Sprint and ran numerous places without winning the feature cup event.
As an apprentice, Flick rode 18 winners in Sydney but the lure of home proved too strong.
The decision almost cost him his life when a fall in the race prior to the 1987 Coffs Harbour Gold Cup caused enormous damage and forced the champion rider off the scene for more than two years.
“Everything in racing has changed except the running of the race itself,” Flick said.
“A dedicated, hard-working jockey can make good wages even in the bush with wall-to-wall meetings.
“Even today I’m still walking around at 59kg and would love to be out there riding.”
For a while he operated as a jockey’s agent and managed Shane Treweek at the time he was riding Natural Destiny and winning big races everywhere.
“It’s a good living but bloody hard work as you have to be available almost 24 hours a day,” he said.
“Working at the Jetty bottleshop keeps me busy and I have time to keep in touch with the racing people.”
Still a daredevil, Flick is limping around as the legacy of falling off a mountain bike, but if he had the choice, would love to be aboard something like owner-trainer Ross Stitt’s ‘Country Horse Of The Year’ candidate Southern Shimmer in tomorrow’s feature.
“It’s a very good horse and would make a great ride, but I’m very proud the Advocate decided to do the story about me instead of ‘Stitty’ who would rather we kept quiet about the horse’s chances for a better price,” he chuckled.