PARKES Harness Racing Club's meeting coordinator Tony Dumesny, and his parents Stan and Nancy, were recently honoured by Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) for their significant contribution to the NSW breeding sector.
At an function in Bathurst last week, HRNSW board member Peter Nugent presented the beautifully made 2021 NSW Outstanding Contribution to Breeding award to Tony, in what was an emotional and well deserved moment for the family.
Their original stud, Ruby Vale, at Alectown, was established in 1943 by William Dumesny, Stan's father - and the family was actually the driving force in 1912 for trotting beginning in Parkes.
So it's safe to say there a very deep Dumesny roots in the Parkes harness racing industry.
The first Ruby Vale stallion William stood was champion pacer Master Dixie, before Stan and Nancy took over the stud operation in 1956 and it is still one of the longest running operations in Australia.
They purchased a New Zealand colt named Southern Brigade who was a leading stallion and also purchased a number of fillies and one of those fillies, Lady Tuptin, is officially recognised as a NSW foundation mare.
As a schoolboy Tony joined the operation through necessity when a race accident severely injured his Stan in the height of breeding season, and in the five decades since he's barely stopped.
"You've got to be up all night and day when they are foaling, it's decades of dedication to get an award like this, and it's amazing for our family to receive the honour," said Tony.
"It's a big job; looking after the horses is job one, the breeding science is another but it's also about having a good relationship with people in the industry and treating people with respect."
"I do all the ultrasounds and the insemination process, so there's a lot of work that goes into a successful breeding operation."
Tony couldn't have been any happier that his parents have been rewarded for all the hard work they've done, dating back to the 1950's.
"Dad was just a real worker, he never had any hobbies; just farm work, horses and family.
"Mum was a townie, not a farm girl, but she just worked her guts out for dad, and had five children in six and a half years - and we are all still involved in the industry.
"It's the horses, they are such beautiful animals - that's what keep us all in the industry," Tony said.
That dedication is highlighted no better than in an amazing anecdote Tony told of his family in the 1940's.
"My uncle Joe and aunty Myrtle had a top Harold Park mare that they wanted to breed with a certain stallion at Wellington, but they had no horse float.
"So Myrtle rode the mare from Alectown to Wellington (a distance of around 120km), and stayed the night while they served the mare in the night and morning before riding the mare back to Alectown that day while Joe drove with the foal in the back of his ute.
"That was their dedication to get the bloodline they wanted," Tony said.
Throughout the stud's history, there has been 26 stallions, and some of those are in the absolute top echelon.
There's been the previously mentioned Master Dixie and Southern Brigade, while Bashful Hanover, Amerigo Hanover, Langus Hanover, Insubordination, Explorador, Royal Chef and John Street North have all produced some amazing foals, and Tony nominated Bashful Hanover as one of the best.
"Bashful Hannover produced the first ever three-year-old to win Australian Horse of the Year, Southern brigade produced some of the best two-year-old horses of all time and John St North won NSW Sire of the Year," he said.
These days you might expect to pay a service fee of up to $27,000 for the top stallions (like Art Major or Bettors Delight), but back in the day Tony says the fee was a little lower.
"I remember one year we had a big discussion after Langus Hannover produced a whole bunch of really good two-year-old's, we wondered about changing his service fee from $300 to $500 but didn't know whether anyone would pay that much!"
Those days saw almost every farm between Parkes and Peak Hill have at least one trotter on it, but Tony says the breeding landscape has certainly changed in the 21st century.
"Last year they bred around 800 foals in NSW, whereas back in the 1980's that number was around 5500.
"Back then everyone could make enough money out of breeding because there were so many mares around, now everyone is really only interested in breeding with the main ones like Art Major, Captain Crunch, Captaintreacherous and Bettors Delight so it's almost impossible to be a small stud."
In Ruby Vale's peak, they not only had 358 mares, but 3000 head of sheep and some crop, an amount that is hard to fathom now.
When not working at the stud, Tony was known as a freelance reinsman but did train some handy mares, including Amie Amour and Sibling.
In presenting the Award to Tony, HRNSW's Nugent acknowledged the contribution of the Dumesny family at the function.
"It is likely that every person in the room tonight has had a Dumesny connected horse," Nugent said.
"There would be very few breeders in the NSW who would have not been assisted by Stan, Nancy or Tony over the past decades.
"They are the very foundation of our breeding industry they are a credit to the industry at large."
Stan, Nancy and Tony have bred winners well into the hundreds and rarely does a week go past when a winner somewhere in NSW was not bred by the family, so this recognition is a very well deserved for the Parkes trotting industry's most well-known surname.