Farewell Donnie: Precious Hope delivers emotional treble
ROCKHAMPTON'S Darren Taylor is organising his father's funeral under the most difficult of circumstances - with strict COVID-19 restrictions in place.
Well-known racing identity and former long-time railway worker Donnie Taylor died suddenly on Tuesday, aged 77.
Darren, a leading greyhound trainer, paid his old man the ultimate tribute with a winning treble at Callaghan Park on Wednesday night - something that he will treasure forever.
Fittingly he completed the feat in the last race on the card with a dog called Precious Hope - something the entire world clings to right now.
"I was actually going to scratch all of them (greyhounds)," Darren said.
"I said to Mum and my youngest bloke, 'I'm not going to run any of them'.
"They got into me and said Dad's a racing person, he's been a racing person all his life, he wouldn't expect that.
"His attitude was always, if you've got a winner, you make sure you go and win them (races).
"We did think we could win a couple.
"It was a sombre night, but we toughed it out, and we were happy with the result."
Donnie would have been chuffed about it too.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions the general public is not permitted at racecourses, and while there is never a large crowd at the regular Rockhampton greyhound meetings, Darren described the atmosphere at Callaghan Park as eerie.
"It's like a ghost town," he said.
"In between races that we didn't have dogs in, we went and sat in the car for social distancing and because we were doing it pretty tough without Dad.
"I just watched the races on my phone."
Due to strict Federal Government restrictions which came into effect this week amid the COVID-19 pandemic, no more than 10 people can attend Donnie's funeral service next Tuesday.
"It's been tough, like an unexpected death that we didn't think would happen, at a time with these restrictions," Darren said.
"And Finlayson and McKenzie (Funeral Directors) they have been so great.
"And people don't take into consideration, the government said maximum of 10 people at funerals but that includes the celebrant, the minister and the funeral director, so we're only allowed to have seven family members there."
Under normal circumstances a large gathering would have been expected at Donnie's funeral.
He was well-known in the racing industry having driven more than 1000 winners during the time harness racing was conducted at Callaghan Park.
Donnie also worked for 51 years as a shunter and shunter-in-charge in the railway at Rockhampton and his birth town Maryborough, with a small stint at Brisbane's Roma Street.
"He loved racing and racing is something that our whole family enjoys," Darren said.
"You know we travel the greyhounds a lot and Dad was always first to the car to get into the passenger seat.
"We do Townsville trips and back in 16 hours and he's always there in the passenger seat, always second driver, and doing his bit to help."
Darren said his dad would be remembered as "a stubborn old bugger but very easy to get along with", a man who always had an opinion and one who enjoyed a beer.
On Wednesday night in that big bar upstairs, Donnie would have enjoyed three of the best cold ones.
When things return to normal after the pandemic, a regular wake will be held to celebrate and commemorate Donnie's life.