MID North Coast freelance award-winning horse racing journalist Doug Ryan has called it "correct weight", retiring after covering more than 1000 meetings in 40 years after leaving Sydney journalism.
"I have just turned 79 and racing journalism gave me a new highlight when my move north to indulge in breeding beef cattle was supplemented," he said.
Doug was initially surprised by the lack of in depth racing news in Mid North Coast newspapers when the sport was a big employer with owners who came from all walks of life being starved of previews, reviews and human interest stories on racing.
His contributions were snapped up by local papers after he received the backing of the various race clubs in the Mid North Coast Racing Association.
Doug covered meetings for Port Macquarie Race Club, former Krambach and Wingham clubs, Wauchope and the various clubs which used Taree, the club now known as Manning Valley Race Club, which had about 800 meetings covered by him up to his retirement.
Also, Doug and former racing broadcaster Dick Hillard, manned a popular "Odds Couple" race tipping segment on Saturday mornings until the Port radio station decided its accent would be on music.
Doug also had a similar segment on Taree radio until COVID-19 struck.
He also produced a weekly column "Inside Racing" which gave news and human interest stories about the industry.
His exploits were recognised by Racing NSW in 2012 and 2014 when nominated for a NSW Provincial and Country Racing Media Award and he won it in 2015.
Doug's stories of the Penang trips were published locally and in Racing NSW's monthly journal.
He paid tribute to the staunch backing given by Manning Valley Race Club's chairman Greg Coleman and initially by the late Don Hopkins, who was a delegate on the Country Racing Association and was chairman at Taree before Greg.
"My work was enriched by the many trainers, owners and jockeys who gave their time and knowledge which helped formulate my previews and reviews.
"Racing is certainly in good hands and has evolved with record prizemoney to stamp its increasing popularity as a major growth industry," he said.
Doug started his career as a cadet journalist on the Sydney Daily Telegraph and after marrying a Kiwi he moved to Christchurch and took up a position as police roundsman.
Before returning to Sydney where he also worked as a police roundsman, Doug as a senior journalist won nine news awards.
In 1976 he was invited for a three weeks sojourn in the United States to commemorate 200 year celebrations and along with journalists from about 50 countries was shown across nine states in a vehicle and caravan while gathering interviews from the country's dignitaries.
His love of horses was the result of breeding and racing standardbreds in NZ and then breeding and racing Splendid Boutade which won 14 races when he moved north in Australia.
Doug has worked with many top journalists and in his role back in Sydney he worked with MPs, hospital administrators, ambulance officers and the Northern Beaches lifeguards.
He says he remembers when:
- He tried to give newspaper and television icon Peter Harvey a surfing lesson on a balsa board at Bondi.
- He found that working beside him in a sporting role was famous rugby league winger Ken Irvine.
- He accompanied Irvine to Harold Park on many Friday nights where he stood as a bookmaker.
- Had Christmas festivities with local MPs on their boats and yachts.
- Was given free flights by Tony Walton on his Palm Beach beach-water plane.
- Wakehurst State MP Tom Webster had a fall from a horse while riding down a gully at Doug's farm,thankfully not injured..
- Won $7000 when Splendid Boutade won the New Year's Cup at Port.
- Visited about 40 countries and tripped around Australia.