By Andrew Adermann
Baylee Nothdurft and Tony Gollan have fast become the most dominant jockey/trainer combination in the state, and their association is only just getting started.
Both fresh off claiming metro and state premierships respectively, the pair are looking to solidify their position as Queensland’s top pairing as the 2020/21 season kicks off.
Nothdurft was recently crowned the 2019/20 Queensland Metropolitan Jockey Premiership, finishing the season with 77.5 wins, ahead of Robbie Fradd (69.5) and Ryan Maloney (69) rounding out the podium.
In the process, the 21-year-old became only the third apprentice in the last 18 seasons to claim the title after Michael Rodd and Zac Purton in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
Nothdurft has also claimed the Queensland Jockey Premiership with 108.5 wins, at a strike rate a tick over 20%.
“To be a part of that company is a big achievement, we all know what Michael (Rodd) and Zac (Purton) gone on to do in their careers and if I can go on and be half as successful as they have then I will have had a good career,” Nothdurft said.
Nothdurft started his apprenticeship with Lindsay Hatch and Ducky Baker in his hometown of Toowoomba before switching to Gollan’s stable at the start of the 2019/20 season.
The recently concluded season saw 79 of Nothdurft’s 108.5 wins aboard Gollan trained horses, including another 84 placings from 333 starts.
Speaking on his first full season working with Nothdurft, Gollan wasn’t surprised in the slightest about what the apprentice had achieved thus far, and was bullish about how far he thinks this association can go.
“Baylee was the leading apprentice when he came down to us on loan last year, and he stayed full time because he was always destined to ride out his time in town,” Gollan said.
“All of the riders love to get in and do their work and none so more than Baylee, being an apprentice he’s there every morning and he understands horses very well.
“We make a good team, and our stable is built on a team environment and Baylee has been a big part of that team, so to see him get the metro title is a big thrill for him but a big reward on the work from the whole team.
“I’m so proud to be a part of his success; the combination has continued to flourish and while both of us continue to put our heads down and our bums up I think that association will only continue to get better and create a formidable partnership for years to come.”
Gollan himself has had a year to remember, breaking several metropolitan and state records in the process.
The state’s premier trainer claimed his seventh consecutive Queensland Metropolitan Trainer Premiership, whilst also becoming the first to break the triple-figure mark for metro wins.
He now sits fourth on the all-time state metropolitan list behind Bruce McLachlan, Fred Best and George Anderson.
Gollan also set a new state record with 157.5 wins, eclipsing Ben Currie’s previous record of 152 wins in 2017/18.
“I must admit, breaking the triple-figure mark is certainly something I have aimed towards for the last couple of seasons,” Gollan said.
“I’m really pleased that we got there, and I think the whole stable is happy with the achievement; it means we’ve been consistently good all year, and we’ve placed our horses really well.
“We only have 90 boxes in town so to get 100 winners is more than one per box which is a pretty good effort.”
It was no surprise to learn that Gollan pointed to his record-breaking metro season as the achievement he and his team are most proud of knocking over, eclipsing his own personal best of 90 wins in season 2017/18.
“The 100 winners for not just me but the stable, I think that’s what we’re most proud of,” Gollan said.
“The state record is important to me, but the metro record was one that I really wanted to get and now that we’ve done it, we’re setting ourselves to do it all again.”
Asked about a specific horse or race that stood out for the trainer, it was impossible to go past an afternoon where two of his stable stars both claimed million-dollar features.
As storm clouds beckoned over Aquis Park, Vega One and Outback Barbie had days to remember at January’s Magic Millions carnival, claiming the Magic Millions Cup and Magic Millions Open Handicap respectively – a shining light on an otherwise gloomy afternoon.
“The day that stands out the most to me was Magic Millions day, winning two of the million dollar races with horses we really set for the summer carnival to come out and deliver on one of the biggest days of the calendar year was certainly the highlight of my year,” he said.
Whilst there have been plenty of highs for the Gollan camp, there was no more sombre day than that following the passing of Tony’s father Darryl in April.
Gollan Snr - who passed away at age 76 following a long battle with illness - was a noted owner, trainer and breeder, winning more than 300 races as a multiple Toowoomba premiership winner.
The morning of his passing coincided with a Saturday metropolitan meet, and whilst Tony was obviously absent from the day’s events, Nothdurft and his book of rides for the stable paid tribute the best way they knew how to.
The stable claimed a treble with Niedorp, Get Stuck In and Macewen all saluting with Nothdurft onboard, providing the Gollan family with an albeit brief moment of celebration.
“Obviously I want to acknowledge my family, we’re a really close family and it’s been a really challenging year with my father passing away so I just want to thank them as we all stuck solid,” Gollan said.
“It was a very special day, but to be honest it was a bit of blur.
“I wasn’t at the races, I was just at home surrounded by friends and was a bit of a mess so to see Baylee that day on Niedorp in the Aus Bloodstock colours was pretty emotional.
“All the coverage we got, it just shows how much the racing community gets behind its people when the times are tough.”
Nothdurft echoed Gollan’s sentiments, highlighting the win on Niedorp as his most cherished of the season.
“Even though it was only a Benchmark 72, to win on Niedorp the day that Tony’s dad passed away, that gave me a big thrill to be able to do that for his family,” Nothdurft said.
“Premiership aside, that was probably the biggest highlight of my year.”
Reflecting on his record-breaking year, Gollan wanted to make mention of those who keep his day-to-day operation afloat.
“I know it’s a cliché but I just want to thank all of the people that work in our business, right through to the office staff and manager, and Craig Cavanough my assistant trainer – we have a big team of people behind the scenes,” Gollan said.
“To get this many winners and to be a strong stable week-in week-out takes a lot of work from a lot of people and they know who they are, but I certainly want to thank all of those people.
“Most importantly to all our clients that entrust us with their horses, they spend a lot of money and have given us some really nice horses and are very loyal to us.
“I’m just the bloke that gets to stand up there with the trophy and gets the pats on the backs, but it’s for that big group of people.”
The pair will have to wait another four weeks minimum before re-uniting for the current season, after Nothdurft suffered a broken jaw during a trackwork accident two weeks ago.
The jockey was concluding his morning work when his mount became spooked by another horse walking towards them, whipping around and causing the hoop to fall and get caught between the filly’s back legs.
While on the ground, the horse kicked out and collected the jockey in the jaw causing a clean break.
“The jaw is alright now, everything went well in surgery so it’s just the recovery time now,” Nothdurft said.
“I go back to the doctor in early September so hopefully he clears me then to ride, and then it will be trackwork, some jump outs and trials before getting back to racing.”
Whilst punters will be forced to wait a little longer to see the Gollan/Nothdurft combination in the form guide, you can put your money on it being another dominant season for the duo.