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  • Provincial Racing NSW


Treacy with Cunning Kitty

DARREN Treacy is “lacing up the boots” to a new challenge these days – and on different turf!

The well-known former first grade rugby league forward has fulfilled a long-held desire to train racehorses and is about to have his first starter.

Newcastle-born Treacy, 52, made his National Rugby League debut for his hometown team against South Sydney in the opening round of the 1994 competition, and the following year played in the Knights’ finals series before being defeated in the preliminary final by Manly.

He shifted camp to St George in 1997 to join former Knights’ coach David Waite and played in the famous club’s last game as a solo entity, losing 20-12 to Canterbury-Bankstown in the 1998 finals series.

St George subsequently announced a joint venture with Illawarra Steelers, and Treacy played in the new club’s inaugural game against Parramatta in March, 1999.

At second row he represented St George-Illawarra in their 20-18 loss to Melbourne in the grand final that year after finishing the regular season in sixth place.

Before a world record crowd of 107,999 at Stadium Australia, the Dragons led 14-0 at the break before the Storm came back in the second half and, courtesy of a converted penalty try in the closing minutes, edged ahead for the first time in a dramatic contest.

Treacy ventured abroad to play a season with Salford City Reds in the UK in 2002 before returning to Australia and playing one more season with Parramatta before hanging up his boots.

When his football career was over, he became a publican, being mine host at hotels at Morpeth and West Wallsend.

It was his association with the “greatest game of all” that led to his interest in thoroughbreds.

“John Walz was closely involved with Western Suburbs in Newcastle, and in the early 1990s invited me to be a part of the Rosella No 1 syndicate,” Treacy recalled.

“We raced a horse called Regento (who won four races, three of them at Newcastle) with Noel Mayfield-Smith, who was then training at Broadmeadow before later transferring to Hawkesbury.”

Treacy became involved in a few horses with Mayfield-Smith, and from one of them – an Untouchable mare named La Capone - bred a smart short course sprinter, the appropriately-named Invincible Gangsta.

The now retired nine-year-old gelding won five races (three for Wyong’s Kristen Buchanan and a further two in Brisbane for Barry Lockwood), and also was placed 11 times from 31 starts.

“Everyone has been telling me for the last 10 years that I should have a go at training, so I’ve finally taken the plunge,” Treacy said.

“But it’s been a long process, and I could not have done it without the help of a number of racing folk.

“I started to knuckle down three and a half years ago, got a strapper’s licence, and subsequently became foreman for Sam Kavanagh.

“I also worked for Kris Lees to finally get my licence just under two months ago and can’t thank Sam and Kris enough.”

Treacy has six horses in work and says he has developed his “own little methods” from taking particular notice of how they went about their training.

Included in his team is an unraced two-year-old by Japanese stallion Tosen Stardom, who won both the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield and Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) at Flemington in 2017 for Australian Bloodstock.

He trialled half of his stable – Cunning Kitty, Never Yield and Semper Invictus – in separate Maiden heats on the Beaumont track last Tuesday.

All were ridden by Kacie Adams, who Treacy says has been a big help riding work for him.

Whilst Invincible Gangsta’s racing days are over and his dam La Capone has passed on, he at least has her last foal in work; Super Capone, an unraced three-year-old filly by Super One.

Treacy’s horses will race in the familiar Dragons’ colours of white jacket, red V and red cap.

All going well, he hopes to make his debut as a trainer this weekend.

He has nominated Never Yield for a 1300m Maiden Plate against her own sex at Newcastle on Saturday, and that mare and Semper Invictus for a 1280m Maiden Plate at Muswellbrook on Sunday.

Understandably, having well and truly left behind a 207-game first grade career where he scored 39 tries – plus a goal (for Salford) – and running hotels, he’s excited about this new venture.

As Treacy himself put it so succinctly: “I’ve played against the best. Now I’m racing against the best.”

*Story John Curtis, October 30, 2023 - Pics Allen Hardes*

Treacy (far right middle row) with the Knights in 1996

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