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Late father still with Tony Gollan to this day

9-5115231-twb140814gollan014-ct300x300.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans 

Almost a year since Darryl Gollan’s passing, premier Brisbane trainer Tony Gollan says he felt his late father’s presence at Rosehill last month as the stable broke through for a coveted Group 1.

Respected Darling Downs horseman Darryl Gollan passed away in April 2020, following a long battle with illness at the age of 76.

Nearing 12 months on, Darryl’s son was back on the Group 1 stage of Australian racing, with gun mare Krone taking out the $600,000 Coolmore Classic at Rosehill Gardens – handing Tony his first triumph at the level since 2014.

As Darryl’s friends, family and much of the Queensland racing industry prepare to come together for the Darryl Gollan Memorial Raceday on Friday April 16 at Clifford Park, Tony says he still has his late father there with him every step of the way.

“There has been a lot of milestones I have reached when he was alive that I did not think I would, but to get another Group 1 not long after his passing, it just shows that the show needs to keep going on and do your job,” Gollan said.

“Hopefully he was looking down and proud of me getting the Group 1.

“I felt he was there at Rosehill the other day in spirit for me and helped me out all the way.”

Gollan’s first Group 1 was in Sydney back in 2012, and before his most recent victory it was Spirit Of Boom and Temple Of Boom running the quinella in the Doomben 10,000 in 2014, which Darryl was able to watch proudly.

At the time of Darryl’s passing, the racing industry and everyone in the Sunshine State was at the height of the first pandemic-led lock down and a proper celebration of Gollan’s life could not be held due to the restrictions.

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.

In a way, Tony believes holding the memorial race day 12 months on has given people a chance to consider his father’s legacy and contribution over the years and they are now all able to come together and reflect.  

Last season, the state’s premier trainer claimed his seventh consecutive Queensland Metropolitan Trainer Premiership, while also becoming the first to break the triple-figure mark for metro wins.

He is on track to win the premiership once again, and is every chance to again crack the ton.

“I hope he is really proud; we did not have a lot of conversations like that, me and my father,” Gollan said.

“He was my best friend and I did not need him to pee in my pocket and tell me how good I was.

“As a son, you always strive to have your father to be proud of you and what you are achieving.

“He was always quick to give me a clip when he thought I was not doing things right or working to my potential.

“My father got the best out of me as far as my career and my training; I owe everything to him, I would not be here with my stable and horses now without him in my life.

“He kept me honest, he was an exceptionally hard worker and was frank with me, but I am sure he is proud of me.”

Tony Gollan Next Racing

IMG-5315.jpgFormer jockey and SKY Racing presenter Bernadette Cooper rode winners for Darryl in her earliest days in the saddle.

She remembers as a 17-year-old apprentice, just granted her metropolitan licence, being nervous to take a ride for a trainer with as much respect and success as Darryl had built up over the years.

As a young anxious Cooper walked up to Darryl in the mounting yard pre-race, the experienced horseman made the emerging rider feel at ease with just how cool, calm, and collected he was.

She described him as warm and also with the ability to have a joke with a sharp sense of humour.

“It was a big deal to ride for somebody like Darryl Gollan because he was so well respected,” Cooper said.

“He was one of the big guns as a trainer and was respected by the whole racing fraternity.

“What I loved about riding for Darryl was that he was a realist, he never got too carried away with the excitement of a win and the same when there was a poor ride because of circumstances in the race.

“He was a marvellous horseman and was well before time in terms of supporting women riders, we are talking 30 years ago, and women riders were still finding their way.”

While Darryl battled illness for long periods of his life before his passing, Cooper remembers how he humbly took pride and pleasure in all of Tony’s record-breaking achievements as a trainer over the last decade or so.

Tony’s feats and standing in the racing industry within Australia is Darryl’s legacy, Cooper says.

“He was such a people person, his owners adored him,” the former rider said.

‘Darryl gave Tony a leg up, but Tony has gone on with it himself.”

Tony lives by the motto “the harder the work, the luckier you get” – which Darryl passed on to him many a year ago.

“Everything I know, I learnt off dad,” Gollan said.

“Particularly the horsemanship side of things, he was a terrific horseman, he grew up basically on horseback on the Western Downs on a dairy farm.

“He was on horseback his whole life and I learnt a lot about the animal from my father.

“With my father being in pubs, I learnt a lot from him about how to treat people and look after people, particularly your staff, who are loyal to you.

“He was always a father figure to a lot of people who worked for him at different times, he treated people and horses kindly, and I learnt so much from him.”

His old man was a champion two-year-old trainer in Toowoomba.

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

“I am pretty sure he did not teach me everything he knows, particularly with his horsemanship and his skill to identify young horses and get them ready to win straight away,” Tony laughed.

“I have barely been able to train a two-year-old winner all year, I am sure he would want to give me a kick in the bum about that.”