Dyanna Thommeny inherited her love of horses from her nanna, who raced pacers in the 1970s and 80s, but it was a meandering journey that brought her to the sport of harness racing.
Thommeny said she started her horse adventures with an old stockhorse mare called Sweetheart as a small girl in Carinda. Now she is a school principal with a band of standardbred broodmares on a property in the picturesque Capertree Valley.
“The saying, it skips a generation, would sum up my journey nicely,” Thommeny said. “I have a distant recollection from standing in the front public bar at the Queensland Hotel in Barmedman, looking up curiously at the race win photos. The horses were owned by my Nana, Mary Parker and her partner Tommy, who owned the pub. And Ray Walker trained them.
“I’m sure I also saw them racing at the local ag shows but was more interested in what I thought were the real horses in the show jumping or campdrafting events” she continues, “Sweetheart was surefooted, could turn on a dime and was kind to kids. A local stockie lent me a stock saddle and bridle so I spent all my hours after school riding around the district.”
Thommeny said she did not return to horses until her mother passed away in 2008.
“I guess as part of the grieving process, I thought why not get a horse and get back into riding,” she said. “My mum had loved the greys so I purchased a flea-bitten grey thoroughbred gelding, Secret Impact. He is 22 now doesn’t have many teeth and is worth his weight in gold as the nanny for the weanlings.”
Later she bought a black mare by Village Jasper and said that began her love of Standardbreds.
“I started paying more attention to harness racing instead of the gallops, researching pedigrees, deciding to break her to saddle and, when the opportunity came, I bravely hooked her up to a gig in a paddock and went for my first drive in a cart,” Thommeny said.
“Since then, my daughter and several other kids have had immense fun galivanting around on her and she is my go-to if I have not ridden for a while. There is an amazing sense of trust between us, I have come to learn the Standardbred is very versatile, has a great temperament, they have a great work ethic and are very loyal.”
Eventually Thommeny bought an off the track mare, Longshorewoman, and started breeding to race.
“I decided to learn about the racing side. I spent many years helping Ross and Yvonne Adams as a stable hand, learning by observing, doing, and asking lots of questions. That eventually led to getting a trainer’s licence, and some amazing experiences and memories of fast working the horses I had in work with Ross on the Hawkesbury track.
“Now having a farm to run my mares on, I breed more for the sales.”
Thommeny has offered yearlings in three APG sales this year. The filly out of Gleniss Mama sold for $20,000 at the Gold Coast and the colt from Our Front Page made $32,000 in Melbourne.
“Funnily enough all the horses I have interests in at the sales are by Ride High. He was such an exciting horse, with great point to point speed,” she said. “I mostly breed from colonial stallions as I believe they are on par with their American counterparts, if they can get a good book of mares and offer a great price point.”
She has consigned a colt (Lot 334) by Ride High from Inaugural Ball (1.58.1, $29K) at the APG Sydney Yearling Sale on February 25.
Inaugural Ball is the dam of four winners including Ziggy Rocks (1.51.1, $210K) and Inaugurate (1.56.8, $87K). This is the family of Exceptionally Smooth (1.55.2, $369K, 42 wins) and Ball Gown (1.51, $534K, 38 wins).
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