Half a century ago Don Ryan was a jockey who raced at Dubbo and many other country tracks.
Now he’s a veteran trainer and head of his family’s team at Bathurst.
There’s few in the west who have seen things change around the region as much as Ryan, but his passion and love for the sport has never diminished.
The 83-year-old trainer doesn’t get to as many meetings these days and won’t be at Dubbo Turf Club on Friday, but he will be tuning in from home to watch talented mare Somebody go around in the Touch of Beauty Open Handicap (1000m).
The event has attracted some quality sprinters from the local area and further afield, but with the Ryans’ regular jockey Eleanor Webster-Hawes again in the saddle the talented Somebody shapes as one of the leading contenders.
“It keeps me having something to look forward to,” Ryan said of his ongoing involvement in the racing game.
“With Eleanor riding for us and (son) Andrew doing most of the training I am just lucky to have it.”
The Don and Andrew Ryan team only have a small number in work but in Somebody they have a horse who has shown an ability to race at a provincial level.
Ryan couldn’t be any more pleased with the five-year-old heading into Friday’s race, saying she’s “freshened up well” after a third-placed finish at the Dubbo track last start in May.
The result added to Somebody’s stellar record at Dubbo Turf Club, with four wins and two placings being scored in six starts.
“She likes the Dubbo track and has shown good form there. It’s a nice big roomy straight,” the trainer said.
“She’ll give a good account of herself. She’s got a nice draw and she likes to get into her rhythm but it’s really all up to horse and jockey now.”
The Allan Denham-trained Cockles is the one to beat, according to Ryan, but he also liked to look of hometown hope Joey’s Destiny, one of two horses in the event for Clint Lundholm. The other is Snippety Sip while Just A Bullet from the Brett Cavanough stables is first-up and Cameron Crockett’s Sharpe Hussler is another who is certain to be popular among punters.
Cockles has the benefit of Greg Ryan in the saddle but the Bathurst-based Ryan remains confident in his hope.
“She’s been very handy, for sure. My boys Andrew, Steve and Bernard have done a good job so it will be a real team effort if she does win,” he said, before speaking about a potential return to Sydney with Somebody.
“She has to put a couple (strong runs) together before we go back down. I think that’s what you need to go in Highway races.”
The Ryans have a small but talented team of four currently in work and Somebody is the only one who will be in action at Dubbo on Friday.
“I rode in Dubbo 50 years ago and things have changed a lot,” Ryan said.
“But there’s always good races at Dubbo and it’s the best racing centre in the west, I think.”
Racing starts at 12.20pm at Dubbo on Saturday with the sprint event at 2.50pm.