Dr Art Meeker influence on Tasmanian breeding.

James Arthur (Art) Meeker grew up on a family property at Klamath Falls in Oregon in the US where he was expected to follow the family footsteps a cattle rancher.

But that those intentions got sidetracked when Meeker started a career as a veterinarian that subsequently guided him to Tasmania.

In 1972 Meeker established Neptune Stud at Colebrook in Southern Tasmania, which soon become one of Australia’s biggest breeding centres.

Neptune Stud imported Holly Sands and Scotch Luck both became successful sires down under.

Meeker also later bought Duke Duane who sired top youngster The Yank who went on to be crowned 2018 2yo of the Year.

Other notable winners to come off Neptune Stud include Vicar Neptune and Napoleon Stone (Timely Napoleon), Lea Sands (Holly Sands), Thomas Magnum and Irish Town (Magnum Almahurst), Almeta Boy and Good Town (Inner Circle), Little Ronnie and Michaels Luck (Scotch Luck).

Neptune Stud a 480-acre farm nestled in fertile land at Colebrook at one stage Neptune Stud had up to 300 mares in their breeding barn.

The property was sold in 1990 and subdivided however part of the property is not totally lost to harness racing renamed “Neptune Park” the former Tasmanian Harness Racing Stud conjuring images of past racing grandeur and days when the property was buzzing with mares foals and racing stock.

Those days are since gone but the facilities including a fast-track, separate jog-track, numerous horse yards and stables remember their glory days and remain in good working order. The property is now used for horse-training, breeding and agistment and runs beef cattle, it includes cattle yards with loading ramp and crush.

After Art Meeker sold Neptune Stud, he set a mobile veterinarian practice.

In 2015 Dr Art Meeker was rewarded for his service to harness racing by being awarded the prestigious Edgar Tatlow Medal. The following year he received a Meritorious Service Award from Harness Racing Australia.

Art Meeker passed away in 2020 aged 79.

TasRacing, after Dr Meeker death renamed one of the states the feature mares race the Matron Stakes since 2020 has been known as the Art Meeker Memorial Matron Stakes.

Big-name mares have won the Matron Stakes including Barrington Belle, Lindys Ticket won the event twice, No Name Susie, Milady who went on to produce Mi Coconut $192, 127 winner of The Victorian Queen of the South and 2023 winner Major Grace.

This year’s winner New Zealand bred six-year-old Lil Ripper, having only second Tasmanian start for Rohan Hiller after being picked up country New South Wales trainer Greg Coney.


Dr Art Meeker with his wife Shirley in 2015.
Lill Ripper defeats Stepping Stones in this years Art Meeker Marton Stakes.