THE Thoroughbred breeding industry and the Droughtmaster breed are much poorer this week with the death of industry innovator Robert Lamont (Rob) Atkinson (Senior) aged 76.
The late Mr Atkinson, spent his twilight years on his beloved Furlong Thoroughbred Stud, Greenmount, which he owned in partnership with his son Jim, and brother Alan.
He was born the second child of the late Monty and Ruth Atkinson, and spent his early childhood at Glen Ruth Station, Mt Garnet, before moving to Mungalla Station near Ingham.
At the age of 16, and at the request of his father, Mr Atkinson, took over the management of Glen Ruth, where he spent the majority of his working life.
According to his son, Rob Atkinson, Glen Ruth Droughtmaster Stud, Katandra, Hughenden, there were few people who had the patience or calmness his father displayed with livestock and people.
“One of my father’s greatest attributes was his ability to connect with young people and spend time with them, especially when it involved working with cattle and horses, while at the same time he was prepared to give young people responsibility at an early age,” Rob said.
Mr Atkinson played a major role in the development of the Droughtmaster breed, and was stud master of Glen Ruth Droughtmaster stud, one of the breed’s foundation breeding herds.
He served as a director on the board of the Droughtmaster Stud Breeders Society for almost 20 years and spent five years as vice president from 1965 to 1970.
He judged Droughtmasters at many shows including the Brisbane and Sydney Royal Shows and in 2012 was awarded life membership of the society.
His son Jim, who also shared his father’s Thoroughbred passion, recalls one of Mr Atkinson’s greatest achievements as a Thoroughbred breeder was breeding the mighty galloper, Mittani, which won over $1m in prize money and still holds the 1300m track record at Eagle Farm.
“Other good horses dad bred include Irgunette, who won Stakes races in the USA, River Jordan, a top performer in Hong Kong winning $2.6m Hong Kong dollars and Let Me Tell, a multiple winner in Brisbane,” Jim said.
“He also bred Prince Anton and Paprika, both runners up in the prestigious Magic Million 2yo Classic.”
However, his innovation of breeding yearlings by matching pedigrees to breeding patterns he thought would yield the right result was his passion, and this skill and advice was often called on by other noted Thoroughbred breeders.
Mr Atkinson will be remembered as a very fine bushman, horseman and cattleman.
He is survived by his three children Rob, Jim, and Julie and six grandchildren.
His late wife Regina (nee Lethbridge) passed away in 1987.
Mr Atkinson’s funeral was held on Thursday at the T.S. Burstow Chapel, followed by an interment at the Nobby Cemetery.