By Duane Ranger
The Queensland harness industry is mourning the loss of two long-serving participants, Donnie Taylor and Tony Bermingam.
Rockhampton harness racing enthusiast, and long-time railway worker, Donnie ‘Ducky’ Taylor passed away peacefully in his home town on March 25, aged 77.
The following day, his son Darren, a leading greyhound trainer, paid his tribute to his father by a winning a treble at Callaghan Park.
“That’s something I will treasure forever,” Darren Taylor said.
“I was actually going to scratch all of them, and said to Mum (Kaye) and my youngest bloke that I wasn’t going to run any of them.
"Then they got into me and said Dad's a racing person, he's been a racing person all his life, he wouldn't expect that.
“His attitude was always if you've got a winner, you make sure you go and win them (races).”
Donnie Taylor certainly knew how to win a race or two; he drove more than 1,000 winners at Rockhampton, including the very first race staged on opening night – May 18, 1974.
Taylor also worked for 51 years as a shunter and shunter-in-charge in the railway at Rockhampton, as well as his birth town Maryborough, and a small stint at Brisbane's Roma Street.
"He loved racing and racing is something that our whole family enjoys,” Darren Taylor said.
“We travelled to the greyhounds a lot and Dad was always first to the car to get into the passenger seat.
"We’d do Townsville trips and back in 16 hours, and he's always there in the passenger seat, always second driver, and doing his bit to help."
Darren said his Dad would be remembered as ‘a stubborn old bugger, but was very easy to get along with’.
“He was also a man who always had an opinion and loved a beer,” he said.
Mr Taylor is survived by his wife Kaye, his sons Darren and Jason, daughter-in-law’s Marie and Samantha, and grandchildren Kaitlyn, Jordan, Declan and Thomas.
Tony Bermingham, who passed away earlier this month, will be remembered as a private man, who was also a successful hobby breeder and owner.
Of those he owned, Paleface Adios 2YO Queensland Classic winner, Penny The Pussycat, will go down as his most successful.
Not only did she become only the second filly to win the Classic, she also set a new lifetime best mile rate of 1:57.6, as well as the season's fastest mile by any two-year-old in Australia.
As a two-year-old, she also won the New South Wales Pink Bonnet, as well as another five at three-years-old, including the J. L. Raith Memorial at Harold Park.
When Penny The Pussycat ended her career at Albion Park on August 5 1995, she had raced 32 times for 17 wins, eight placings, with $85,571 in purses banked.
The Albion Park Harness Racing Club staged the third event at its Saturday April 11 meeting in honour of Mr Bermingham.
The Vale Tony Bermingham 1660 metre Mobile Band Five Pace was won by the Stephen Cini trained and Narissa McMullen driven Urban Girl.
Footnote: Thanks to both Darryn Nufer and Peter Wharton for their assistance with this information.