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Darleen Duryea fighting back from horrific fall

By Jordan GerransIMG-7082.JPG

During Beaudesert trainer Darleen Duryea’s extensive rehabilitation this year from a horrific track work fall, Saturdays and Sundays have been the most frustrating days across the seven of the week.

Duryea, mother to a young son Liam, suffered serious spinal injuries and bleeding on the brain after a track work fall in June of this year.

Darleen has been around horses from as soon as she could walk and when faced with the toughest period of her life, she has attacked her rehabilitation head on – her mother Carol explained.

“She is really doing her rehab, she has really got into it,” Carol said.

“It annoys her that she cannot do rehab on Saturdays and Sundays because the rehab centre is closed on the weekend.

“She has to build up her upper body and core strength – she was previously very strong – but after the accident everything went from her waist, she had no balance.

“She has really built that up, she can sit up on her own accord now.”

Darleen was born into racing; her father Doug trained while she was growing up, with her parents estimating she rode a horse for the first time when she was about three years of age.

Darleen was riding track work when she was barely a teenager, before the sport she loved took her to the other side of the world, handed a scholarship working with Aidan O’Brien in Ireland.

“She learnt a lot over there, it was completely different over there to the way they train here, just the way they condition horses and the techniques,” Carol said.

As Doug details, horses and racing have been her focus for much of her existence, as well as her beloved Liam.

“Horses have been there all her life, one way or another,” Doug said.

“When she was a kid, she wanted to do more than what she was allowed to from a young age, I think she rode track work in a gallop for the first time as a 12-year-old, you couldn’t get away with that these days.

“She would always ride two or three horses every morning before school and then back for more in the afternoon.

“She was full on with horses all the time.”

Darleen would spend time in Victoria, training and riding work, before ending up at Beaudesert where she would remain before her sad track work accident in the middle of 2021.

Since the fall earlier this year, the Queensland branch of the Australian Trainers’ Association, among other bodies within racing, have wrapped their arms around the Duryea family.

The ATA raised $155,000 for Darleen and her family to help with everything she needs in her rehabilitation as well modifying her home to allow for her wheelchair.  

Doug Duryea Next Racing

IMG-7080.JPGCameron Partington, from the Queensland arm of the Australian Trainers’ Association, has been heartened by the support fellow trainers have shown to the Duryea family.

“Since July when the accident happened, we straight away got in touch with Darleen and her family and just said that we were going to help and get behind her,” Partington said.

“Our industry always looks after their own so we got behind Darleen, she is going through a tough battle with her young son Liam, who is only nine.

“She wants to get back training and our aim and goal, with everyone that has supported her, is to get her back training.

“That might take five years but if we take the financial burden off her and give her an opportunity to get back to doing it, that’s great.”

While there is a long tough road ahead, Darleen is determined to return to the racing industry in one way or another.

“She is full on with her rehabilitation and always says she misses the horses,” Doug said.

“I am pretty sure she will get back into it, in some form.”

The Duryea family were given a special presentation at the ATA’s Wayne Wilson Medal ceremony earlier this year as Darleen was given a standing ovation as she entered the room.

With her partner in crime Liam by her side, the entire family was blown away with the way trainers from around the state had gone out of their way to donate money or lend a hand in whichever way possible.

“Darleen has a great history and has a huge amount of experience, working with a number of different trainers as a foreman,” Partington said.

“She only has a small team of horses but she was really starting to build her team up again.

“She was getting herself in a good position as a trainer before she had the unfortunate track work accident.”

Darleen’s mother thanked the entire ATA, Partington and the wider industry for their generosity, while also noting Darleen was further inspired to complete her rehabilitation following the support from other trainers.  

“She was a little bit overwhelmed,” Carol said.

“When she was told they were raising funds for her, she was gob smacked that people wanted to help like that.

“People have been really good in racing and people around Beaudesert have been excellent as well.

“It has been quite overwhelming about how people have railed around her to help her.”

There had also been fund-raising efforts from the general community away from racing in the Beaudesert area as well, Carol said.

The family are holding out hope Darleen can make a miraculous recovery.

“She is really positive she can make herself walk again,” Carol said.

“She does not have any feelings in her legs at all and she is in a wheelchair but she has progressed so much since she has been in there.

“She is now up to doing transfers from the bed to the wheelchair, to the shower chair – we can now take her over for a walk into the shopping centre for a look around – she is progressing.IMG-7081.JPG

“In what extent – we do not know – but she is determined to get back into racing in some way or another.

“It has not set her back and everyone that knows her knows that she is a very determined person, hopefully we can be there to support her in any way we can.”

With a small team of gallopers in work before the fall, Doug has taken on some of Darleen’s former horses to keep ticking along in her absence from the stables.

He has prepared Pivotal Motion to two wins in his name after the gelding was previously in Darleen’s barn before the accident.

Darleen has been home from hospital for the last six weeks leading into Christmas and says she is enjoying spending time with her family and horses once again.

With modifications on her house to allow for her wheelchair, she is always working towards getting a new drivers licence, as well.

Pivotal Motion