WELL known and highly popular Cairns horse trainer George Doolan succumbed to a vicious and invasive cancer on April 28 this year. He was farewelled by a large contingent of friends and relatives including a wide cross section of the racing industry and former Queensland Police Force colleagues. They travelled from all over for his funeral.
This is the eulogy prepared and presented by his only daughter Jade.
Dad was born at Mareeba on January 12, 1947. The family lived at Jubilee Creek near Cooktown.
When dad was six years old, his father Jim was killed in a truck accident on the Black Mountain Road outside of Cooktown. The family then moved to Ootan and later dad’s mum Pat took over the Almaden general store. Pat married Fred Wieland and soon after they moved to St Ronan’s station, outside Mt Garnet.
Dad attended school at Alamaden and later boarded at St Augustine’s. He left school in 1960, and worked on St Ronin’s station for 12 months. After the station he then worked at Ootan in the lime mines breaking stone and cordwood.
Dad joined the Brisbane police cadets in 1963 until March 1966. First he started at Inala then joined the stock squad working at Charleville, Quilpie, Cunnamulla and Eulo.
In October 1967 dad was called up for national service training at Kapooka outside Wagga Wagga. He was deployed to Terendak Camp, Malacca, Malaysia in June 1968 where he was stationed until October 1969.
It was then back to Roma Street with the Queensland Police where he performed general duties, before joining the bodgie squad for two years.
He was then transferred to the Brisbane city Crime Investigation Branch (CIB) and worked in various squads including the Townsville and Mundingburra CIBs for just on two years.
Dad then spent two years at Cairns CIB and while based there he did a stint in the Karumba prawn season for four months.
Dad then went to South Brisbane and then transferred to Mt Isa CIB for two years covering from Mt Isa to Karumba and Normanton, before venturing back to the Brisbane CIB fraud squad.
He then spent 10 years at Ingham which is where he started training race horses that he bred himself.
He met Mum in Ingham and they were married in August 1988 and I was born in 1989. In 1993 dad retired from the police and we all moved to Cairns where he took up full time training.
He had quite a successful partnership with many trainers and owners such as John O’Brien for many years. The stable was especially successful in the 1996 season when dad took out Trainer of the Year and Horse of the Year with Grand Trick.
George then cut back on numbers only keeping a handful in work - having success with horses such as Grand Trick, Painter’s Pal, Quick Response, Bundaleer and Varmint also known as Minty- who won the Cairns Cup in 2004 creating a track record. I still have Minty today- he is 18, fat as a fool and feeding like a two year old.
Dad took great pride in making sure all of our horses found good homes at the end of their racing careers.
Dad thoroughly enjoyed packing up and heading for bush meetings such as Mt Garnet, Laura and Cooktown. Especially when Mt Garnet was grass fed; dad and I would make it a two week camping trip.
In the last few years he had a handy horse called Green Lantern who had a bit of a cult following because of his name - he gave dad and the owners heaps of fun. Dad retired from training in September 2014 when he became ill and in the last few months had found great enjoyment in the ownership of a young horse by the name of Boys from the Bush.
George also had another career which many didn’t know about - this was as commentator/referee for every football game especially his beloved Cowboys and Broncos.
He was also especially talented regarding breeding- he would know every detail of a horse’s breeding- the sire, the dam, the brothers and sisters. He would be able to tell you about the temperament of a sire and how much ground they needed etc. and he was usually right. In fact in his last weeks in hospital he had a catalogue for the Melbourne sales; he had picked out a horse and there was so much of his writing on the page about the horse you couldn’t even see the black type!
I am especially proud of my dad and the way he looked after his horses - not racing them for the sake of going around to pick up a dollar. He always put the horse first and the owners last. If a horse was not up to it he would tell the owners ‘you are wasting your money and my time’.
“It’s the end of the section,” he would say.
George had a story for every occasion and an instant reply to anything that took his fancy. He was also renowned for his particularly dry sense of humour which he certainly let everyone know about.
He was good with words and had several sayings which left many either laughing on the ground or just blow them out of the water – to use George’s words.
That was my dad.
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