by Ross Stanley
In 2013, comic-actress Magda Szubanski, who was in Nanango for the Big Screen Film Festival, relished her interactions with jockey Lyall Appo at the Lee Park races.
Appo, who turns 54 on October 17, now has a movie credit in his own right, courtesy of his stunt riding in “Pirates of the Caribbean 5 – Dead Men Tell No Tales”.
The Disney feature was shot at Movieworld near the Gold Coast and was released to Australian outlets during the winter.
Lyall has been hired again for an upcoming production about Truganini.
The effervescent character’s horsemanship traces back to a tender age when his uncles and his father Lionel were stockmen on cattle stations.
Appo’s young life was anything but hardship free, but he has been immensely proud of his indigenous heritage.
Lyall’s apprenticeship, during which he secured between 60 and 70 city first placings, kicked off with Bruce Cameron at Toowoomba.
His junior days also included time in Sydney.
Malcolm Johnston took him under his wing and the likes of Ron Quinton, John Duggan, Peter Cook, Wayne Harris and John Marshall were other jockey-room inspirations.
During a diverse career, Lyall finished eighth on the 1983-84 Brisbane Jockeys’ Premiership table, picked up the 1985 QTC Exhibition-Metropolitan Handicaps double on Roy Dawson’s charge Our Rosalee, was a national straw-weight boxing champion and travelled extensively to ply his trade.
Appo was devastated when Leigh-Anne Goodwin lost her life in an horrendous fall at Roma in December 1998.
Significantly, in his twilight time, his racing itinerary centred around partnering horses prepared at Chinchilla by Goodwin’s father Mark and her sister Jemimah Forde.
For the past 16 years, Lyall concentrated on the journeyman’s bush circuits.
He scored a string of key victories in the South Burnett.
Fine front running displays on Kane’s Crossing (for Goodwin) and Pedro’s Amaizing underpinned triumphs in the 2005 and 2006 Nanango Cups.
He served up reminders of his instinctive talent by scoring on shock long shots Elton’s Son (2009, Caloundra) and, after a year off, Susashi (2012, Eagle Farm).
July 7, 2012 was red letter day.
At Esk, Lyall booted Pukekura Boy home early in the day. And although he was well beaten in the last, Lyall was elated because his son Beau-Dene, on debut, was at the head of the field on Marc The Magpie.
Appo, always a mentor for Beau-Dene, Toowoomba’s reigning premier jockey, was renowned for his post-race, winning ritual.
He frequently stirred up a little ovation to promote a connection with the crowd.
“I loved sharing my success with the little kid watching near the fence,” said Lyall, who announced his retirement from race-riding on Fathers’ Day.
He has worked as a postman since the Equine Influenza period in 2001.
The natural conversationalist, who never had a tongue-tie in his kit bag, really is the ideal fellow to deliver the late mail.
Fittingly, his final win was on Minto’s Lass in February at Eidsvold where his life began.