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Stradbroke chase handed down through Gollan generations

Tue 11 June 2024

By Jordan Gerrans

In pursuit of a breakthrough Stradbroke Handicap that the clan have craved for decades, Jane Gollan believes they might just have a secret weapon this Saturday afternoon at Eagle Farm.

Premier Sunshine State trainer Tony Gollan has declared boom galloper Antino the stable’s best chance in some time to finally snare Queensland’s premier race.

“I do - I felt that way last year, as well,” Tony said with a laugh.

Antino infamously could not sneak into the Stradbroke field last year and went on to win the Wayne Wilson on the same program in dominant fashion. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, Antino is a $6.50 equal favourite with the bookmakers to claim the Group 1 show-piece event of the carnival.

Like his late father Darryl before him, the time-honoured Stradbroke has always been a race Tony has aimed to win but it has so far elluded him.

The pursuit of the Stradbroke has been passed on from generation to generation and Tony’s wife Jane thinks having their children Jamieson and Boyd at the track on Saturday could be key.

Asked her thoughts as to why the Stradbroke Handicap had avoided her husband when he had won so many major feature races around Australia, Jane offered this response.  

“Maybe, it is because we have not had the kids there before,” Jane said with a smile.

“He is very adamant about having the kids at the race track this year.

“They were there for the Victory Stakes win with Antino so hopefully they are the good luck charms to get the team across the line.

“We have so many great racing stories as a family and hopefully we can have another one this Saturday with the family there.”

Tony’s late father Darryl - a trainer, owner and breeder of racehorses - passed away following a long battle with cancer at the age of 76 in early 2020.

Over the last year or so Tony has ticked off a couple of races from his bucket list that he had long desired to win.

Darryl was a renowned conditioner of two-year-olds, making a win in the Magic Millions 2YO Classic for the first time with Skirt The Law all the more significant for Tony. 

The proud Darling Downs clan always wanted a Weetwood Handicap for their trophy cabinet as well and All That Pizzazz broke a two-decade long chase of the famous Clifford Park race late last year.

Could the Stradbroke be next?

The family certainly hopes so.

Jane referenced both the recent Magic Millions and Weetwood triumphs when reflecting on Darryl’s influence on Tony and their Stradbroke ambitions.

“Tony is such a staunch Queenslander and obviously there is not another race he wants to win more than this one,” Jane said.

“There is not a race he would want to win in Australia more than this one. It is a pinnacle one for him.

“To tick that box would mean everything to him. Winning the Stradbroke would mean everything to him.”

Tony’s mum Paulette is proud as punch of her son’s achievements regardless of if he wins the Stradbroke this Saturday or not.

Paulette is well-known to punters as she previously worked as an operator at a local TAB.

She has ridden the waves of Tony’s journey in racing.

There were memorable scenes in the mounting yard a couple of years ago when Tony embraced his mum when Vega One claimed the Kingsford Smith Cup.

From a small stable at Toowoomba, Paulette is delighted to see what ‘Gollan Racing’ has become and all the people they employ.

“I am so proud – I am a very proud mum,” Paulette said.

“What he does, all his hard work to get his stable up to where it is today.

“This will be his eleventh year to win the premiership, I think that is so great for him and his staff that stay with him. What he does for his staff as well is good.”

Paulette can still recall the phone call from a young Tony when he informed his parents that he was no longer pursuing a career in rugby league and would follow in the footsteps of his father into the training ranks.

They could not have been happier. 

“Without what Darryl and Tony have done for ‘Gollan Racing’ – we wouldn’t have what we have right now as a family, if not for them,” Jane said.

“That partnership they had together when Tony first moved down to Brisbane, it was so strong for a father and son.

“Darryl was such an intrinsic part of the operation and it has just grown from there.”

As Darryl did to Tony, the current champion Brisbane trainer is passing on his love of the sport to his children, highlighted by his desire for them to be at the track on Saturday if he is to finally win the Stradbroke.

Away from the bright lights of Group 1 racing, that is what matters most to Tony.

“He absolutely adores his children and loves being a dad,” Jane said.

“I think that has been really good to break up the pressures of what his job entails with racing as he is up really early and they are often really long days.

“He is away a lot so when he comes home, he just wants to be a dad and mucks around with them and plays games.

“I think that is a side of Tony not everyone sees, he is a soft guy in there. He likes to make things fun.”

The Gollan camp looked as though they may have three runners in the Stradbroke just a few weeks ago but Antino will be the 'lone ranger' come Saturday as stable mate Freedom Rally is the first emergency. 

All That Pizzazz and Zarastro could not win through via the Moreton Cup last Saturday. 

The stable have gone close to Stradbroke glory over the last couple of decades as Temple Of Boom finished second in the 2014 edition of the race while Vega One ended up in the same position behind Tofane in 2021.

Temple Of Boom followed a similar path to Antino towards Stradbroke day, winning the Victory Stakes in the lead-up before being beaten by River Lad in a photo-finish.