Charlie Swan has paid tribute to Danoli’s trainer Tom Foley following his death at the age of 74.
Foley sprang to prominence in the 1990s when Danoli appeared on the scene, winning each of his three bumper starts before embarking on a hurdles career.
Christened ‘the people’s champion’, Danoli went to the 1994 Cheltenham Festival with the tag of the Irish banker in the SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle – now known as the Ballymore – and he delivered in style.
Swan was on board on that occasion, as he had been for an earlier win in the Deloitte and Touche Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown, and the roar that accompanied him up the Cheltenham hill and back to the paddock has rarely been repeated.
“Danoli really caught the imagination of the racing public,” said Swan.
“Tom was a great man. All the time I was riding Danoli we never had one crossed word. He was just a complete gentleman.
“He was a very quiet man, but he could get excited when Danoli was running! He was such a lovely man.
“People always take to the smaller trainers taking on the big guys and he really knew his horse.”
Swan went on to win the Aintree Hurdle twice on Danoli, as well as the Morgiana and Hatton’s Grace, also finishing third in the Champion Hurdle before Tommy Treacy took over in the saddle.
Injury prevented Danoli from perhaps reaching the heights which once looked likely, but he did win the 1997 Irish Hennessy.
“He hardly ran a bad race, it was amazing how consistent he was and Tom was a very capable horseman,” said Swan.
“They were great days with him, he won the Aintree Hurdle twice and the second time he broke down, otherwise the sky was the limit for him. He still won a Hennessy after that which was amazing.”
Foley’s last winner was Rebel Gold at Gowran on January 28.