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Racing industry reflects on the life of Darryl Gollan

9 April 2021

By Jordan Gerrans

Superstar, a great man, ahead of his time, and an amazing horseman.

Those are just a few labels placed on the late Darryl Gollan for his lengthy contribution to the racing industry in Queensland.

Just over a year ago, Gollan - a trainer, owner and breeder of race horses - passed away following a long battle with cancer at the age of 76.

At the time, the racing industry and everyone in the Sunshine State was at the height of the first pandemic-led lockdown and a proper celebration of Gollan’s life could not be held.

The Toowoomba Turf Club will aim to make up for that when they host the Darryl Gollan Memorial Raceday on Friday April 16 at Clifford Park.

Ahead of the celebration of his life, many friends have come together to recall Gollan’s efforts in the training game, his contribution to mentoring young jockeys, as well as his ideas and thoughts becoming common practice these days in the industry.

The rider dubbed the “Queen of Clifford Park” Skye Bogenhuber says she would not be the jockey she is today if not for Gollan’s influence.

Bogenhuber has seven Toowoomba jockeys’ premierships to her name, on top of a number of Group and feature races around the state, because of what she learnt from him.

“He was a massive part of my career and life, he is just such a superstar,” Bogenhuber said.

“He was a great trainer and a great supporter of me and my ability - he had a lot of faith in me.

“He was part of many peoples' lives here in Toowoomba, he was a great bloke and had so much belief in my ability as a rider.”

Gollan’s ability to produce feature two-year-old winners was also well renowned.

Now known as the Pat O’Shea Plate, Gollan prepared the winner on eight different occasions dating back to 1988, including one year when he trained the first three past the post.

“It was amazing his record with two-year-olds, he was a very good horseman and knew what he was doing,” fellow local trainer John Dann said.

“That was one thing he was great at.”

He was the part-owner of Group 1 Doncaster Handicap winner Dalrello in 1975 and trained more than 300 winners with Novajinsky and Bimbadeen just a couple of his top liners.

Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell first encountered Gollan as a youngster starting out in the media in Toowoomba.

“The Gollan name is synonymous with racing in the Darling Downs as an owner, trainer and breeder,” Parnell said.

“The one I always loved Novajinsky, one of the very, very fast brigade that Darryl trained.

“I started my media career off in the Darling Downs with WIN in Toowoomba and I was able to get to know the family and the great training brigade that was up there as Darryl was one of many of the star names at Clifford Park at the time.

“What a legacy that Darryl has left and the great strides that Tony is now making carrying the name forward.

“The great man has certainly left a legacy in Queensland, that is for sure.”

IMG-5315.jpgGollan suffered from cancer for around 15 years before his death, but you would not know it, being a regular at the racetrack as he battled the illness.

“He was genuine, decent and would do anything for you if you asked,” Bogenhuber said.

“He was the toughest man I knew; when he was very sick, he would turn up every day without fail.

“He had love for the animals as well, he just loved the horses like his own kids.

“He has left a real legacy in the racing community in Toowoomba.”

With Gollan’s sparkling record with two-year-olds, Bogenhuber explained that she learnt so much towards being a better horsewoman through her work with the babies at his stable.

In turn, that was passed on to Gollan’s son Tony, who has developed into Queensland’s leading trainer for some time, picking up Group 1 and black-type races regularly.

Toowoomba Turf Club CEO Lizzy King pushed for her club to host the memorial raceday, declaring Gollan was so important to the local community and missed the opportunity to celebrate his life with the restrictions 12 months ago.

The club are expecting more than 400 people to come together at Clifford Park for the occasion.

A Darryl Gollan memorial race will be run, which the Club hope will become an annual tradition, and are planning a special presentation of the trophy following the first running of the race.

Toowoomba Chairman Kent Woodford provided examples where Gollan was ahead of his time in the racing industry and brought new eyeballs to the sport.

“With all the syndication of horses, which is common now, Darryl got the Toowoomba business community involved in racing - many people that had never been in horses before,” Woodford said.

“He got a lot of people involved in racing that are still in it to this day.

“That changed the landscape and how it was done here.

“Darryl had a lot of forethinking ideas that are in place now, he always spoke about making country meetings TAB instead of the non-TAB and just a forward thinker and ahead of his time.”

Gollan also was a big supporter of female jockeys in the early days, when it was a more male-dominated job, Woodford said.

While Gollan is best known for his efforts training, he was also a successful businessman, owning pubs and hotels over the years.

Woodford had one of his few arguments with Gollan in one of his pubs.

The Toowoomba Turf Club had recently closed the “trainers bar” and when committee member Woodford rolled in for lunch one day, Gollan gave him a fair spray to show his disapproval.

“He was a great supporter of the Club going back in the cushion track days, Darryl and Tony were not in favour of it,” Woodford said.

“We struggled for nominations, but Tony and Darryl supported it even though they disagreed about the track, just to support the club.”

As fellow veteran trainer Dann says, there would not be many around Toowoomba that have a bad word to say about Gollan, everyone from track work riders to staff at the club loved being in his presence.

Gollan was an excellent communicator, Dann thinks, which helped his business in the pub game as well.

Dann says the Darryl Gollan Memorial Raceday on Friday April 16 at Clifford Park will be a fitting tribute to the man who made a sizeable contribution to the Darling Downs area over a number of decades.