From Cunnamulla to the Winner’s Circle
In the world of horse racing, success stories often revolve around the magnificent animals that thunder down the tracks. However, behind every triumphant horse is a dedicated and skilled trainer who plays an instrumental role in shaping the horse’s journey to victory. One such inspiring figure is Darryl Ward, a racehorse trainer who embarked on his remarkable journey from the remote town of Cunnamulla, Outback Queensland. His rise from humble beginnings to the grandeur of the winner’s circle is a testament to passion, perseverance, and the unwavering belief in one’s dreams.
Early Beginnings in Cunnamulla
Darryl Ward’s journey began in the quaint outback town of Cunnamulla, where he developed a deep appreciation for horses at a young age. Growing up amidst the vast landscapes and rich equestrian culture of the region, Ward’s fascination with horses was nurtured by the vibrant local community particularly his father Richard and Wonky Golding who taught him to ride. Despite the challenges posed by the remote location, Ward’s determination to work with horses only grew stronger with time at age 12 securing a job mucking out stables and doing odd jobs 7 days per week for Sandra Suey and Colin Aspinall from their stables in Watson Street where he learnt about riding racehorses.
With his dream of becoming a jockey, Ward left behind the comforts of his hometown and seized the opportunity to work for trainer “Percy Thompson” in Gulgong NSW where he became an apprentice jockey and his dream came true on 20th July 1990 in Wellington NSW when he rode “Swift Triump” to victory for the Thompson family – but, unfortunately for Ward battled weight so with one win from one start he moved on with the hope of becoming a trainer. His mother Pat chuckled with great pride saying “he can tell everyone he has a 100% win rate as a jockey”.
A Passion Ignited
Ward’s passion for horses continually led him to pursue a career in the racing industry. A move to Gosford to freelance track work for 10 years doing a lot with trainer “Gordon Benson” he met the likes of Kevin Langby, Lester Piggott, Wayne Harris and Darren Beadman, who have had lasting effects on Darryl Ward today as he embarked on a journey to learn the intricacies of racehorse training. This decision marked the turning point in his life, setting him on a path that would lead to remarkable achievements and recognition.
Building Expertise through Dedication
Darryl Ward’s journey was not without its fair share of challenges. Starting from scratch in an industry known for its competitive nature demanded immense dedication and perseverance. Ward worked tirelessly, absorbing knowledge from experienced trainers, honing his skills, and building a reputation for his unwavering commitment to the sport.
Rising through the Ranks
As the years rolled by, Darryl Ward’s hard work and expertise began to pay off. He started gaining attention for his ability to develop a strong rapport with his horses, understanding their individual needs, strengths, and weaknesses.
His thirst for knowledge grew stronger drawing him to “Mudgee” accepting a foreman position for “Max Crockett” at “Gooree Stud”. Max was an outstanding horse breaker for legendary trainers like Bart Cummings and Tommy Smith. Max was also a very successful trainer in his own right and he taught Ward the ropes. It was at this time Darryl Ward secured his trainers license working at “Gooree Stud” for Max. This unique approach set Ward apart and led to a string of successful training sessions and, eventually, victories on the racetrack with his first win at Orange with “Octedi” owned by Percy Thompson, ridden by a young Hugh Bowman who went on to ride Winx.
The Breakthrough Moments
Ward’s journey had its share of breakthrough moments that solidified his position as a respected racehorse trainer. His ability to spot talent, coupled with his skill in devising effective training regimens, led to his horses consistently outperforming expectations. These victories not only brought recognition to his name but also inspired aspiring trainers from similar backgrounds to believe in their own potential.
Returning to Cunnamulla as a Symbol of Inspiration
Despite his rising success, Darryl Ward never forgot his roots and after two years at “Gooree Stud” returned to Cunnamulla for a short time as trainer for John Johnson before moving on to Dalby training for John & Marg Hocking achieving success with a horse called “Buzz” in Dalby, Toowoomba, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast. On the move again Ward moved to this time to Murwillumbah where he trained “Our Excess”,and won the Murwillumbah Cup. Next was a big move to Western Australia where Ward trained for Frank Love from Albany with moderate success. This led to Ward making taking the opportunity to work as a foreman at “Macedon Lodge” for Lloyd and Nick Williams in a time of elation and success in 2022 “Macedon Lodge” won the Lexus Melbourne Cup with “Green Moon”.
Another move was on the cards for Ward, this time to Mackay, North Queensland as foreman for Darren Symons for a short time, while stabling a horse at Steel Ryan’s stables in Deagon on route to Flemington from Mackay. Steel saw Darryl’s work ethic and love for horses and offered him a foreman’s job at his stables which Darryl later accepted. Darryl and Steel continue to work together and the two have celebrated much success. A solid relationship has developed and Darryl feels he owes a lot of his success to Steel and the others who have engaged and supported him over the years.
Darryl Ward’s story is one that would motivate all individuals to work hard and pursue their dreams against all odds. His presence back in his hometown of Cunnamulla on Tuesday September 19, 2023 for the 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour will be bitter sweet and serves as a powerful reminder that passion, combined with hard work, could transcend geographical barriers and lead to success on a grand stage.
One of Darry Ward’s biggest supporters is enigmatic Jennifer New a proud sister and a staunch Cunnamulla local. Jen said, “I am so proud of his achievements he worked so hard to get where he is and no one would know, from age 12 he would ride his BMX bike to the stables before and after school every day of the week. Later some of the workload he took on and the conditions he accepted to get a start were less than average but he just got on with it and none of it was easy. We have loved supporting his career and have been to almost every place that he has worked and trained over the years”. Jen will proudly display his success and put him on centre stage during the festivities of the Melbourne Cup Trophy coming to Cunnamulla on a float entered in the Street Parade.
Cunnamulla, get ready to paint the town with excitement and revelry! The countdown has begun for the Cunnamulla Street Parade, a vibrant and spirited event that will sweep you off your feet. This is not just any parade; it’s a celebration that fuses the rich history of Cunnamulla & District Racing with the glamour of the 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour. On Tuesday, September 19th at 11 am, the streets of Cunnamulla will come alive with a colorful procession that’s set to captivate locals and visitors alike.
Darryl Ward’s journey from Cunnamulla to becoming a prominent racehorse trainer is a testament to the power of perseverance and dedication. His story serves as an inspiration to countless individuals who dare to dream big, regardless of their background or circumstances. Ward’s legacy reminds us that the path to success is often paved with challenges, but it’s the unwavering belief in oneself that ultimately leads to triumph.