By Jordan Gerrans
Lance McDonald’s name will not appear in the race book or in the form guide for Saturday afternoon’s TAB Battle of the Bush Final at Eagle Farm.
For the team behind FNQ galloper Evil Eye Mac, although the McDonald name will not be front and centre like theirs is, they have made sure the stroke victim is there every step of the way with them along the journey.
As the best country horses from around Queensland descend on Brisbane, the tale behind Evil Eye Mac is a touching one of mateship and just displays how the racing industry brings people together from all walks of life.
Evil Eye Mac, these days a six-year-old gelding based at Tolga, had his first ever race start for a rookie trainer named Lance McDonald in April 2018, who also owned and bred the galloper.
The history books will show that McDonald prepared just two starters in his short career, both in that month of 2018, with Evil Eye Mac and Mac Me Mate finishing over six lengths behind the winner in their sole starts for his start-up stable.
Evil Eye Mac is now on his fourth different trainer, finding his career best form under the watch of hobby trainer Nicole Homann in 2021.
While Evil Eye Mac moved from trainer to trainer in north Queensland, McDonald, despite no longer training, still owned the gelding.
That was up until late last year when disaster struck for the popular Far North publican, who dreamed of being a successful horse trainer, as his world was turned upside down unexpectedly.
Nearing 50 years of age, McDonald suffered a massive stroke late in 2020, spending two weeks in intensive care and a further eight weeks in the rehabilitation ward of the Cairns Hospital.
With money tight and his ability to move around freely following the stroke limited, McDonald was forced to sell his two racehorses.
FNQ racing tragics Eddie Sharman and Norm Tuxworth stepped in, purchasing Evil Eye Mac, while Sharman took on Mac Me Mate himself.
On Saturday when Evil Eye Mac presents on the big stage of Queensland racing, Tattersall’s Tiara Raceday at Eagle Farm, the FNQ gelding will proudly go around in McDonald’s racing colours of Royal Blue, White Sleeves, Silver Stars with a Silver Star Cap.
“I always say the three of us; Lance is still a part of it despite not being an official owner anymore, we wear Lance’s colours and not the trainer’s colours,” Sharman said.
“Lance owns the horse as much as we do, more than anything, it is great to see him cry every time he wins.
“It brings tears to my eyes even talking about it now.”
Sharman and Tuxworth went halves when purchasing Evil Eye Mac for a fraction of what they will race for this Saturday in Brisbane.
McDonald first contacted Sharman about taking on the horse, as he could not any more.