Morphettville: Leon Macdonald pays tribute to David ‘DT’ Thomas after Pearl Bandit’s win in race named in his honour

Emotions ran high at Morphettville as racing participants honoured former long-term Thoroughbred Racing SA (now Racing SA) operations manager David “DT” Thomas, who died last month after an illness.

Fittingly in many ways, the Leon Macdonald/Andrew Gluyas-trained and Jason Holder ridden Pearl Bandit took out the race named in DT’s honour – a Benchmark 76 handicap over 1550m.

The team had a long association with Thomas, as did’s Terry McAuliffe, Macdonald’s son-in-law, who was a very close friend of Thomas.

Racegoers, officials and participants paid tribute to Thomas, 64, at Morphettville, which followed a packed memorial service at the course on Thursday.

Jockeys formed a guard of honour before race one.

Macdonald said Thomas’s death had hit the industry hard.

“DT was great for us. He was a bouncing person. He did everything for you,” Macdonald said.

“He then became the trainers’ association rep and jockeys’ rep.

“(It’s) just so sad. I had known David for years and years.

“As for the horse (Pearl Bandit), he is a nice horse, so consistent.”

Holder backed up Macdonald’s comments.

“It was amazing. DT was just a gentleman, he was a big part of this industry,” Holder said.

“I just wanted to do the right thing for DT as I wasn’t having the best of luck. He used to always walk in the jockey’s room and wish me good luck.

“My colleagues also wished me good luck after the race, including Emily Finnegan (jockey), who was very upset after the race. I think we should have a listed race in David’s honour now.”

The @MacdonaldRacing-trained Pearl Bandit takes out the David Thomas Memorial Handicap 🤍🖤

Thomas, highly respected within the industry locally and beyond, filled many positions within the former TRSA.

Those included promoting the SA racing scene on the national stage and helping local jockeys and trainers with various matters such as WorkCover.

Meanwhile, jockey Justin Potter was all smiles after riding his first metro winner since returning from a six-month injury lay-off. Potter drove Cashin’ Chex ($7), trained by Kristi Evans, through on the rail to get up on the line to win a 1400m Benchmark 70 handicap.

Potter, who was injured (wrist) in a trackwork accident in October last year, was thrilled to win at a metro venue.

“I feel great. The body is holding up well and it was great to win this and for Kristi, who I had a lot to do with when she was at Strathalbyn,” Potter said.

“I have had four winners since coming back (non-metro victories) and I have been feeling comfortable.

“It seemed a harmless track accident back then so it was nice to have something good come out of something bad.”

Paul Gatt also chalked up his first win since copping an injury in March when he piloted Larimer Street ($16) to victory in a 1000m Benchmark 76.

Jockey Jake Toeroek and the training team of Richard and Chantelle Jolly recorded doubles with Somewatt Fabulous and Poysed To Rein.

Emotions flowed on to the final race when Lord Bouzeron, ridden by leading jockey Jess Eaton and trained by top mentor Michael Hickmott, won the Charlie Hoile Cup over 2250m. The race was named after the former Immanuel College student and Woodville West Torrens footballer who died in January at the age of 17 after an illness.

Originally published asPearl of a win will make DT proud

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