Written by Christine Nevill
In this industry if you haven’t heard of Tony Carter Smith then you’re either not a breeder, live outside Victoria or come from another planet. No, I am not kidding that’s how well known he is to the horse industry here in Victoria. Almost every thoroughbred and harness racing breeder knows of and calls on Tony to brand their foals every year in Victoria. In fact he is almost a household name when branding time comes around again.
Have you noticed that brand on the horses shoulder coming back after winning a race at the Cup Carnival, chances are it was put there by TCS.
Tony grew up in the Victorian town of Mortlake with his parents and three sisters, his father Stuart Carter Smith a successful trainer himself taught Tony most of his horse skills and knowledge which would come in very useful once Tony left school for a career in the horse industry.
When he did leave school Tony spent the next 10 years furthering his experience with various top trainers including 5 years with the legendary T.J.Smith where he strapped and rode trackwork and regularly travelled interstate with T.J’s horses. He recalls having to exercise two horses morning and night around the suburban streets of Brisbane, he would be riding Mighty Kingdom and be leading Kingston Town at the same time.( Just a couple of pretty good horses!!)
Along with TJ Smith, Tony also spent 18 months strapping with Angus Armanasco and short stints with Bart Cummings and Neville Begg.
When he was 21 the travel itch set it in and Tony spent a year in England working as a strapper and riding out, he also rode to hounds once in full hunting outfit whilst in Ireland. After England it was on to a 12-month stint and a very different lifestyle on a horse stud in Saudi Arabia.
After initially starting in Horse Dentistry in 1982 Tony went into horse branding in 1984 with Harness Racing Vic whilst working for himself branding thoroughbreds and other horse breeds. In 1984 he would be involved in the branding of around 5000 standardbreds for HRV but now the figures have dropped to around 2000 a year.
With his experience, Tony is the main brander called on to brand foals for most of Victoria’s thoroughbred studs and he says his figures are in the thousands each year. He remembers branding Apache Cat as a foal mainly due to his markings and more than likely he has branded many of our top racehorses over the years but keeping track of them is a big job.
Although Tony brands only in Vic he still supplies brands for owners Australia wide.
These days Tony resides on a small property in the Kilmore district where, when he has time (not sure when that is) he trains a small team of thoroughbreds as a hobby and over the past ten or so years he has had wins with Arkadian, Curving, Theatre Rose, Shinjuku, Slither and Little Miss Attitude.
His lifelong ambition was always to be a trainer and knowing the industry is a tough one he realised he also had to have another job to eat. His view of the racing industry in the last 3 years reflects the general dilemma being experienced country wide of smaller trainers being squeezed out of their jobs due to costs or loss of facilities to train in their area.
He would like to see smaller towns being able to retain trainers, which would encourage more owners and more employment within the industry as he feels that there is a general lack of experienced racing industry staff available.
Tony claims although working amongst the top trainers gave him valuable insight into the industry his greatest teacher and mentor was his father Stuart.
You can still find Tony occasionally at the major horse sales casting his eye over the yearlings looking for another winner to add to his team and who better to pick one than the man who has probably seen nearly every horse in Victoria over the years.
Knowing Tony as we do, with his quiet demeanour and athletic prowess in catching the foals, I realise what a valuable asset he is to us in the industry.