Racing greats pay tribute to Danoli's legendary trainer Tom Foley
There will never be another like Tom Foley said his friend Jim Bolger on Thursday when he remembered the man who captured the hearts of a nation through his masterful training of Danoli.
“There was nobody who didn’t latch on to the Danoli story,” Bolger said. “As they say in the vernacular, ní fheicfidh tú a leithéid arís – you won’t see his like again.”
Dubbed the people’s champion given his remarkable rise through the ranks, Danoli won 17 races, including the 1994 Sun Alliance Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Charlie Swan was on board Danoli that day in the Cotswolds and paid tribute to his trainer.
He said: “Tom leaves us with unbelievable memories. He was a great man, a gentleman, and extremely humble. It was always about the horses with Tom and he trained Danoli brilliantly. He was a really nice man and they are a lovely family. It’s just very sad and my heart goes out to them all.”
Swan added: “A lot of people would have loved to have come across a horse like Danoli. He was a real people’s horse and people seemed to love him because of the man who trained him. When we hit the front in the Sun Alliance Hurdle at Cheltenham, I'll never forget it, the crowd went berserk. He was many people’s banker for Cheltenham that year. Tom leaves us with fantastic memories and will be sadly missed.”
Bolger echoed the sentiments of Swan and remembered the glory days of Danoli working on the gallops at Coolcullen.
He explained: “You couldn’t but like Tom. Everyone liked Tom. The public admiration flowed for Tom because he was such a gentleman and the horse added to that. I was great friends with Tom for a number of years. He was a very popular man with my staff as well. I was talking to him two weeks ago and he was battling. He was brave.”
Bolger added: “He used to bring his horses here for a gallop. Charlie would meet him here quite regularly and I have very fond memories of the golden period with Danoli – he never let me up on him, though!”
The Danoli story might never have been written if it hadn't been for Foley’s gentle touch, according to Bolger. He explained: “Danoli was a very, very difficult horse and Tom did a wonderful job with him. It was a miracle that Danoli didn’t just whip around at the start one day because he was capable of anything. Charlie Swan also did a wonderful job with him.”
Bolger added: “I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Goretti and all of Tom’s family. He will be greatly missed.”
A private funeral will take place for the family in Saint Andrew's Church, Bagenalstown on Saturday February 27 at 11am, followed by burial in the Cemetery of the Assumption, Bagenalstown. The funeral mass will be available for viewing on http://www.bagenalstownparish.ie.