TERRY RYAN was born on December-6, 1940 in Brisbane where he attended Christian Brothers College until he decided that racehorses were more to his liking than school.
Ryan was taught to ride a horse by Ron Conquest at the age of 10yo but didn’t start his jockey apprenticeship until he was fourteen with Keith McCloud at Doomben. The latter half of his apprenticeship was served with Vigo Stanislao at Albion Park.
Ryan had his first three rides in races at Gatton without success then at Kilcoy on the August-3, 1955 at the tender age of 14 years won his first race aboard Gundy Lad. Ryan’s apprenticeship was from 1955–59 and from there he was a fully-fledged jockey and would venture out to western racing carnival circuits from Windorah, Stonehenge onto Longreach which would take in four to five different racing venues.
During his time as an apprentice Ryan had previously been invited to the western carnivals by Ron McCullagh and in 1959 Bill Wall, a Winton trainer, asked Ryan if he would become his stable jockey. Bill was the owner of the local dry cleaners and also owned a hotel in Winton and he owned a handy galloper by the name of Auction who was regarded as the best horse to race at Albion Park.
Auction won races at the Creek (which Albion Park was known as) with weights up to 12 stone 2 pounds in the imperial scale (59kg). Bill Wall asked Ryan to secure him a couple of handy gallopers from Brisbane and he did with the horses Certain Gain and Lucky Signal. Wall kept Certain Gain for himself while Bill Glasson Snr (father of Qld Parliamentarian Bill Glasson Jnr) purchased Lucky Signal and both horses won many races. Certain Gain went on to win the Winton Oakleigh Plate over 1100m.
Ryan left Winton in the 1960’s to become stable foreman for Tony Mazzaglia and the reason was that if he wanted to ride again in Brisbane he would have weight problems. In June of 1960 Mazzaglia got disqualified and Ryan was asked to take over the training position but couldn’t because he was 20 years old and you had to be 21 years of age to hold a trainers license.
Ryan decided to go back to the country racing as a jockey and teamed up with Isisford trainer Keith Stevenson and between them travelled the Isisford to Longreach circuit with great success. The combination took a team of horses to the Rochampton carnival and won a fourth division handicap with a highly talented galloper called Mallerin.
Mallerin ridden by Ryan smashed the then 1000m track record at Callaghan Park which gave him fond memories of the track. Ryan returned in his later years as a trainer to Callaghan Park to win the 1991 Rockhampton Cup over 2000m with Bongo Rhythm ridden by Sydney apprentice Tony Townsend. The combination only five days earlier won the Rocky Amateur Cup over 1800m creating a new course record.
In 1962 Ryan was approached by McKinlay owner/trainer Frank Banning (owner of Cannington Station) to become his stable jockey - he accepted. Banning had three handy gallopers Jandar, Parisse and Logic Link and between them notched up six wins from seven starts in a space of three weeks apart from Julia Creek, Cloncurry and Mt.Isa.
Banning decided to spell the horses after a lengthy campaign and it was in 1963 that Ryan settled down in Mt.Isa where he rode as a free-lance jockey between Saturdays worked at the Mica Creek Power Station.
Ryan won three McKinlay Cups, two on The Conveyancer trained by Lance McDermott, and one aboard Jandar trained by Frank Banning.
In 1966 Ryan got dealt a hefty disqualification from racing for 12 months due to him being at the time a holder of a dual jockey/trainers license and the horse he trained Autumn Wind (ridden by Don Harbutt) beat the horse he rode Flashing Rio (trained by Charlie O’Neill) by a short half head in a race at the Mt.Isa carnival.
For the next twelve months Ryan, who couldn’t even go to the races, took up driving a taxi for a living and would drive up to the top of the look-out on race days and watch the races which were just below. After the twelve months disqualification Ryan had to wait until his tenth ride back to land a winner and then it was full steam ahead.
In 1968 Ryan teamed up with the smart Comic Title (owned by the Bode family) and together they won the North Queensland Breeders Plate in Townsville beating Moss Valley (ridden by Rex Caspaney) and Whileagen. 3rd, (ridden by Rusty A. Davis).
The Bull Sale Cup at Cloncurry was the next scalp Ryan and Comic Title claimed along their way to many more wins. Ryan teamed up on several occasions with Bob Snelling while riding in the west and it was not odd to see the combination win a treble on a Saturday anywhere.
Between 1971 and 1972 Ryan moved back to Brisbane and set himself up with his own stables and would ride work for the big name trainers - Tommy Smith and Bart Cummings - when they would arrive in Brisbane for the winter carnival. Horses that Rayan rode for the legendry trainer T.J.Smith were Denise’s Joy, Toy Show, Cheyne Walk and Authentic Heir.
The great man T.J. one day asked Terry his opinion on how Authentic Heir would go in the Tatt’s Cup over 2200m at Eagle Farm from barrier 15. Ryan replied he’s good enough providing that the jockey can do the job from the wide alley. Kevin Langby piloted Authentic Heir 14/1 to victory by 1.5 lengths in the Tatt’s Cup and the following day Ryan remembers T.J. giving him a nice little tip for his advice.
Ryan would return to the northern racing carnivals as a jockey in between his now association with the big trainers and won the 1973 Cairns Lightning aboard Loner owned by Cyril Swan in a close finish after getting a late inside run to grab the leader in the shadows of the post.
It was also around this time on a return visit to Mt.Isa that the stewards tried to hand out another twelve months disqualification this time they made out that he held the runner up Kalasan’s tail from the 400m to the home straight. This disqualification was appealed and upheld within a week and Ryan was cleared of all allegations.
In 1975 Chris Chard, stable foreman for Bart Cummings, asked Ryan to move to Sydney as a trackwork rider in which he gladly accepted. Ryan formed an association with the dual Melbourne Cup winner Think Big, and not only got to ride him track work but eventually Bart in August of 1975 gave Ryan the rides on Think Big in the Rosehill Stakes 1200mts W.F.A. and the Warwick Farm Stakes 1400mts. W.F.A. Ryan then accompanied Think Big to Melbourne for the spring carnival and decided to take up residence in Melbourne.
1978 saw Ryan back in the Northern Territory riding at the Darwin Carnival when Colin Hayes’ stable foreman Kevin Ryan (no relation) was holidaying in Darwin and saw Ryan riding there and asked him to come and ride work for Hayes in Melbourne.
Ryan got to be in charge of So Called - winner of the 1978 W.S.Cox Plate - and later got asked to accompany Dulcify to the Perth Carnival in Western Australia. Dulcify was transported to Perth by plane ,but played up terrible during the flight and this along with a strong heat wave saw Dulcify unplaced in the Western Australian Derby.
The return trip home was by road with McClarty’s Transport in which the truck broke down on the Nullabor stretch somewhere near Ceduna in heat reaching 48 degrees. With no water or help in sight, Ryan thinking that Dulcify could start dehydrating hitch hiked a ride to a dairy farm some 200km away to get a horse float in which he travelled with Dulcify in the float back to the dairy.
Once at the dairy Ryan took Dulcify down to a nearby water hole and with a bucket bathed the horse in the water for several hours. The late Colin Hayes in the video The Three Dominators speaks highly of Terry Ryan saying that if Terry hadn’t used his horsemanship skills by thinking of the horse, Dulcify may have never have went on to win such great races as the W.S Cox Plate, V.R.C.Derby and Australian Cup before breaking down in the Melbourne Cup.
Ryan took out his license to train for himself in May 1982 and was based at Canterbury until 1985, then Randwick until 1996 and at Warwick farm in 2013 when Terry decided to call it a day.
Ryan trained some very good horses on the Metropolitan tracks such as Palmyra Bay, My Kind Of Girl, Prince Lochinvar, Mustaway, Saninja and Sir Amadi.
He also spent time riding in the Northern Territory and recalls the day at a race meeting at Timber Creek about 260 klm outside Katherine when the population swells to around 400 on a race day.
A brawl broke out in the tin roofed bar just as he and fellow jockeys were mounting up in the enclosure and eight of them punching and throwing tins ended up in the enclosure as the horses were trying to go onto the track.
Once described as the Scobie Breasley of Northern Australian Racing, Ryan says he’s ridden on 72 different tracks in Queensland and ridden against some of Australia’s best jockeys, the likes of Roy Higgins, Kevin Langby and Peter Cook. Best horse he’s ever put a leg over, unquestionably Think Big. Terry Ryan now resides in Charters Towers and likes going to the local races.