Former NZTBA Councillor and respected breeder Desmond Patrick Fleming aged 77 passed away at his home in Opunake this week.
A good farmer, and a great family man who loved his horses, was how he was described by family friend Ron Bassett.
“I can’t say a bad word about him,” said Bassett.
“Our families were great friends from our farming days in Taranaki, right through from when the kids were in pony club. He loved his horses and loved being involved in the thoroughbred industry, he was up in Cambridge for the stallion parade a few weeks ago, and still loved going out to his farm.
“He was a quiet sort, but always took on board everything everyone was saying.”
Fleming aged 77, and his wife Kay shared a passion for racing and breeding dating back over 35 years.
In recent years he and Kay enjoyed success with the top Savabeel mare Savaria, the winner of the Gr.1 New Zealand Oaks, and the Gr.2 Wellington Cup. She may have been their first group one winner but she certainly wasn’t the first horse they had tasted success with.
In fact in January last year, they reached the milestone of having 100 winners and their distinctive yellow and black colours became a familiar sight around central districts racecourses. Such was the importance of family that many of those winners were named after his six grandchildren.
Like a lot of dairy farmers in Taranaki, Fleming had grown up around horses and originally used them to move stock on the farm. Once he became an established farmer he ventured into racing and breeding buying his first mare a non-winning Sovereign Edition(IRE) mare Paraonui Princess, and a Vice Regal filly named Queen of Peace to race.
That led to a satisfying journey of breeding and racing horses, and saw him become a stalwart of the local thoroughbred industry, and an active member of the Taranaki/Wanganui branch of the NZTBA. He also served as a Councillor on the NZTBA.
Paraonui Princess was the dam of five winners including Kay Row a Long Row mare that won eight races including the Gr.3 Awapuni Gold Cup, and the stakes performers Sandboy and Denholm. Kay Row did her part for the family as well leaving five winners including the stakes performers Billy Quin and Alyssum who in turn left the group three winner Pero. Volkaire was another group three winner descending from this family.
Queen of Peace won four races and left the group three winner Zapeace, who also provided the Flemings with their first Australian stakes win when she won the Let’s Elope Stakes at Flemington. She also left the stakes placed Irish who won nine races and was the grandam of the Timaru Cup winner Coup Morgan.
Savaria on the other hand was purchased by Des to race from the Karaka sales in 2013, and after her successful racetrack career was sold to Australian interests.
Des is survived by his wife Kay and was the loved father and father-in-law of Craig (Perth), Lianne (Rose) and J Norness (Nelson), and Chantal and Kylie Brophy (Opunake). Loved Poppa of Chelsea, Denholm, Billy Quin; Tasman; Pero, and Aria, and great-grandfather of Olive, Hugo, and Stevie. - Michelle Saba