Robbie Dolan.

My perfect plan for Robbie Dolan, the Singing Jockey

I have always liked the ballad, True, by Spandau Ballet. I was, therefore, perplexed when the St. Petersburg Times pop critic rated it the worst song of all time. Even if he hated the melody, he should – as a scribe – have appreciated the lyric, ‘Why do I find it hard to write the next line?’ We scribblers have a right to find that line compelling. After all, the muse of inspiration sits awkwardly on the human shoulder.

Me? I can always hack a piece out, but this week I am finding it hard to type, let alone compose. That’s because I have Covid, and feel like shit. It grates me that a grotty little bug has knocked me on my arse, and is using my lungs as the playpen for its spiky hooks.

I have tried reasoning with this creepy midge, pointing out that I am no great catch on its path of proliferation. The bug, however, simply sings me its own version of Spandau Ballet:

I bought a ticket to the world, and now I’ve come back again

Why don’t I find it hard to spread the next case?

Oh, I’ll get you all in the end …

Ha, ha ha, haaah-hah

I know this much is true


Yes, my singing virus is a nasty, out-of-tune fucker. But another melody maker is cheering me up. This is singing jockey, Robbie Dolan, an Irish lad who came to Australia in 2016 and has become a force in NSW. Now Dolan is about to appear on TV’s The Voice, the musical talent show in which the judges have their backs turned to the contestants, and cannot see the artists they’re auditioning for their, er, stable of singers. 

Many candidates don’t make the cut, but advance promos indicate that Dolan will get snapped up by one of Keith Urban, Rita Ora, Guy Sebastian or Jessica Mauboy.

Like all racing enthusiasts, I will be supporting Dolan to come flying through the field to win. He’s a lovely lad, and he has won me money plenty of times. How can I go wrong?

Well, one thing does worry me, and that is song choice. I believe singers should sing lyrics that reflect their lives and make their feelings seem authentic. Ideally, Dolan should sing about being a jockey. This could be a problem, though. I mean, how many good songs about dieting are there?

Luckily, there’s a sure-fire winning song for Dolan, should he pick it for the final. For culturally embedded reasons, Australia is obsessed with this song. It is by Ricky Lee Jones and the late Walter Becker (Steely Dan) and is called The Horses. It was a smash hit for Aussie singer Daryl Braithwaite in 1991 and is today a 10-time platinum single. It is not unusual to hear this song played to Grand Final crowds at Aussie sporting events, and the effect is instantly transformative. Everybody is swept along in a tide of euphoric nostalgia, and all sing along, enraptured and enchanted. Me too, and I can’t stand the song.

That’s the way it’s gonna be, little darlin’
We’ll be riding on the horses, yeah
Way up in the sky, little darlin’
And if you fall I’ll pick you up, pick you up

If they could just get a horse onto stage, put Dolan in the saddle wearing racing silks and a cowboy hat, and let him sing, The Horses, he’d be a certainty to win. A certainty!

TOP CLASS MUDLARK: Shelby SixtySix with Robbie Dolan.

Let me conclude with a story of another certainty called Shelby SixtySix. The singing jockey appears in the story too.

Bush sprinter, Shelby SixtySix, then a winner of three races in 21 starts for Goulburn trainer Danny Williams, was one of four horses standing his ground for the Gr. 2 Challenge Stakes at Randwick (1000m) on 5 March. Racing at WFA against, perhaps, Australia’s best two sprinters, Nature Strip (7-10) and Eduardo (13-10), the bushie looked outclassed despite a suitably heavy track, and started at 60-1. Splintex (17-1) was the other runner.

Nature Strip bombed the start, which gave Eduardo the chance to dictate, but halfway up the straight punters had the two-horse war they expected. And then they didn’t. Approaching the 100m mark, Nature Strip cried enough, and Shelby SixtySix came past the multi-millionaire. Luckily for punters of the second favourite, Eduardo kept going long enough to hold out a flying Shelby SixtySix by a rapidly diminishing head, but the writing was on the wall for all to see. SSS was a world-class mudlark. 

A week later I cackled when SSS was allowed to start 11-2 in a Gr. 3 at Rosehill (1100m) on another heavy track. Of course, he won.

Count off another week and SSS was carded again, this time as an emergency acceptor for the Gr. 1 Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill. There was to be a new jockey aboard this time at 52.5kg – Irish rider Robbie Dolan, the singing jockey. Once again, an 11-2 price was available (unreal) and, SSS came flying through a gap late for Dolan to mow down the leaders and win.

Shelby SixtySix is by Irish stallion Tornado (IRE) out of Honours List (IRE) mare, Storm Kite. Now a five-time winner from 24 starts and a winner of $762,015, the five-year-old gelding would be a contender on any bog track in the world against any company. In seven starts on heavy going, he has four wins, two seconds and a third.

Obviously, his mudder was a mudder.

The win was singing jockey Dolan’s second Gr. 1 triumph, and both the riding and singing worlds are his oyster. Provided he steers well clear of singing The Pogues’ racing anthem, Bottle of Smoke, there is no telling what he might accomplish. – IRC.

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