Sunday, 22 June 2014 00:00

Remembering Don No Runner

Written by Garry Allison - Rocky Mountain Turf Club
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Like most horsemen, Don No Runner recalled the names of the horses he's had through the years better than parents rattle off the names of their children. Since he began in the horse business in 1980, Don had hundreds of horses — and he remembered the bad ones as well as the good ones — but the good ones with more fondness.

"I had a horse in 1988, Triple H Lucky Tarzan, and we won the Breeder's Futurity with him in Trout Springs, a 350-yard dash that saw us win $22,000," said Don, who passed away June 14 at age 78. "The next year we won the Derby at Trout Springs.

"I've still got that horse at home, on the Blood Reserve," he said in 2010 in an interview. "He's 19 years old now and he's standing as a stallion." Then with a shy laugh, Don added, "And he doesn't even need Viagra." Don has been racing and training horses for 27 years and has run on A, B and C tracks including Millarville, Tee Pee Creek, Trout Springs, Cochrane, and Trochu and the bigger tracks like Calgary, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.

He ran in Standoff in the early '80s, with neighbours like Rufus Goodstriker and Ken Tailfeathers.

"I've been around a long time," the former Blood tribal councilor said with a laugh.

At the RMTC he was ably assisted by nephews Delvin, Robert, Clayton and Calvin. And Don was hit hard by the passing of Robert.

"We work and train the horses as a team," says Don. "I'm single, and these boys are just like my kids. They help me and I train them. Maybe when I leave horse racing they will be around to carry the No Runner name on in the sport." Don was strictly a Quarter horse man and really enjoyed working with the two-year-olds.

Training them is like kindergarten he said. As they require it he galloped them, puts them through the starting gate and worked with them every day.

"You have to be very patient with them, they can breakdown pretty fast. In the early days of the spring meet you should only run them short distances, like 220 yards." Don's horse NR Smashing Dasher qualified for the Canadian Open in 2006, making him one of the toughest horses on the grounds.

He had one called South Sunshine and as a three-year-old he earned Don about $35,000.

"He could compete with the best," said Don.

Perhaps one of his best horses was a two-year-old, which he purchased earlier at the Lethbridge Quarter horse Sale for $9,600. It was higher than he would usually have paid, but the breeding was right and Royal Cash Cha Cha earned him his investment back, and more.

"I ran the filly in Idaho and at the year's end she had done quite well." Don was pondering a venture into Paints, but it depended on price, and breeding. He was always planning and training his Quarter horses though. He loved to see them run. "I still hope to be in this business when I'm 81. (He fell three years short). The only thing that bothers me is a lot of the guys I started with are gone... gone to Heaven." Besides serving on tribal council on the reserve, Don has owned and driven his own school bus for 43 years, was supervisor of the Reserve's Bus Co-op for 25 years and a member of the board of directors for 32 years.

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