Ancient Song won a group 2 race for Boljun. Photo: Anthony JohnsonWhen Rado Boljun’s back started to go, the then 35-year-old brickie needed to find another job.
Thirty-one years later and the Croatian-born horse trainer has brought down the curtain on his second career after selling his 49-horse stable at Canberra’s Thoroughbred Park.
In that time he accumulated 750 winners, including two seasons of more than 50 winners, and won a group 2 race with Ancient Song.
He rated the daughter of Canny Lad as his best horse, which won him the group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200 metres) in 2002.
She also saluted at listed level for him and finished second to the legendary Lonhro in the Missile Stakes.
Boljun then told the owners the Melbourne direction of racing would suit her better and she joined Peter Moody’s stable, where she then won the group 1 Salinger Stakes (1200m).
After Ancient Song, he said Golf Circuit was his next best with the daughter of Groucho winning five times in Sydney and finishing third in the group 3 Tramway Handicap (1400m) in 1997.
“I’ve done enough, I’ve done 36 years, I won 750 winners, I’ve done alright for myself,” Boljun said.
“Winning those big races in Sydney [were my best memories]. I won a group 2, I ran second a couple of times in group 1s.
“I won plenty of races in Sydney, especially with Golf Circuit, Kiss My Fuji and Sober Comet.”
Boljun moved to Australia in 1971 and first got into the racing industry when he was still a brickie.
The 66-year-old started out as a trainer-driver in the trots as a hobby, with some success, before making the move over to thoroughbreds.
After putting the bricks down for the final time, he bought a property near Broulee before moving to Canberra about 13 years ago.
But now he’s not only sold his stables, but all his horses as well and plans to retire at Merimbula.
“I’m a brickie by trade and my back was kind of gone when I was 35 and I said to my family, ‘I have to retire, I have to do something else’,” he said.
“I started with the trots, then I all of a sudden we changed to gallopers. We bought a property in Moruya near Broulee, we bought 40 acres over there and I started training gallopers and I never looked back.”
While Boljun’s racing days are done, Barbara Joseph and Paul Jones have Just A Blur running in the benchmark 78 handicap (1600m) at Randwick on New Year’s Day, while fellow Canberran Nick Olive has Lock The Doors as an emergency in the benchmark 67 handicap (1100m).
Matthew Dale has Bitburg up against Trevor McIlrick’s Miss Liffey in the benchmark 68 handicap (1100m) at Rosehill on Saturday, while Mick Miladinovic’s Burradoo, Norm Gardner’s Nights On Fire and Gratz Vella’s Keep ‘Em Guessin’ jump in the Highway Handicap (1300m).
Dale also had Gocup Belle in the benchmark 69 handicap (1300m).
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