September 7: Countdown 31 days until the Emerald 100 by Tony McMahon
Published 8 September 2022
The first of a series written by Tony McMahon for the Emerald Jockey Club’s upcoming Emerald 100 race day.
Emerald’s racing patriarch Noel Coyne 78, regards winning the second running of the Emerald 100 in 1966 as one of his most memorable achievements during a lifetime of racing.
Riding in his first year as a professional jockey after years as an amateur rider and aged 22, Noel brought about a home town victory on the Arthur “Pop” Meeks’ trained Tin Horn.
“He was a slow beginning horse and I remember he only just got there (won). I don’t think he went on to win many more. However, he won the 100. There was a really big crowd there that day. The Emerald 100 always attracts big crowds and it will be another huge day out here for this year’s 100 on October 8”. Noel said today.
Coyne was born in Emerald in 1944 and apart from a few years as a young lad at Rubyvale with his family, he has called Emerald home all his life.
“My dad Tom rode as an amateur and I was always around horses. Dad trained later when jockeys weren’t allowed dual licences which came in much later on when I held both licences”, Noel said.
Noel Coyne’s jockeying career spanned 40 years with his last day of race riding at Barcaldine in June 2006 while his final time in the “money” was aboard the Glenda Belle placegetter Zerinco there in April that year.
While fondly remembering Tin Horn’s Emerald 100 win 56 years ago, it was a winning double at Barcaldine on May Day, 2000 that revives the happiest memories for N. Coyne as a jockey.
“I won the Tree Of Knowledge Cup on old feathers (Flying Feathers – 28 wins) and the big open sprint out there that day on Trust Card. That was probably my happiest memory as a jockey. Also finishing fourth one year in the Rocky premiership with 19 wins was something for me to be proud about”, he said.
Certainly so, as Noel would make the long drive in (about four hours on much inferior roads) each Saturday to go around at Callaghan Park where jockeys were in prolific numbers.
Coyne retired from jockeying to concentrate of training which he did successfully from stables adjacent Pioneer Park racecourse until March 2020 with Solo Melody his last starter on his home track.
“I was the curator for the Emerald grass track at Pioneer Park and only gave that away a few years back. We raced for years fortnightly of a Saturday. I remember each Sunday walking the track and filling in the divots”, Noel recalled.
His dedication and passion for detail virtually as a one-man band encompassed countless hours of work which was the catalyst for Pioneer Park’s reputation as one of the best turf tracks in provincial and country Queensland.
Far from a retiree or a couch potato, each morning Noel Coyne is over at his beloved Pioneer Park racecourse assisting trainer Glenda Bell saddle-up her big string of horses for trackwork.
” It gives me something to do. I just can’t sit around and do nothing”, Noel said.
His association in racing with trainer and retired jockey Emerald’s Glenda Bell goes, way, way back and both would be lost without the other at the track each morning.
Bell is likely to have multiple starters in the 2022 Emerald 100 and without doubt Noel Coyne, a humble man and wonderful custodian for Emerald racing will be playing his behind-the-scenes vital role.