When you are transporting up to $20 million worth of thoroughbreds and other highly-prized horses across Australia, you don’t entrust them to just any truck – you choose the best for the best.
That’s the view of Paul Ramsay, Managing Director of Perth-based Ramsay’s Horse Transport, Australia’s largest transporter of premium racehorses and recreational show horses.
The company has a stable of six trucks, including two XF105 cab-overs, purchased through award-winning PACCAR Perth dealer, Kenworth DAF of Perth. The DAFs, driven by professional horsemen, ferry dozens of horses to and from the west and east coasts, travelling up to 4,500 km, arguably the longest road trip for thoroughbreds anywhere in the world.
Ramsay’s was established in 1985 by Paul’s parents, Dennis and Faye Ramsay, after Dennis retired as a jockey and horse trainer. The owner-operator began trucking horses in and around Perth. Within a few years, Dennis added a second truck to handle regional work, and from there the business thrived – especially when Paul came onboard in 1999 as a driver and then took over the reins in 2004.
Today, Ramsay’s has four trucks carting horses throughout the major regions of WA. In addition, the company is one of only two carriers that truck horses across Australia. Ramsay’s two DAF XF105s each make three runs a month, transporting horses to and from Perth to Melbourne and Sydney and occasionally Scone, the ‘horse capital of Australia’, in NSW’s Upper Hunter Valley.
Ramsay’s has always operated a disparate mix of trucks, choosing specific models for specific horse transport applications. But, in the past couple of years, the company has narrowed its focus, favouring the DAF brand over all others. Now, half of Ramsay’s six prime movers are DAFs. In addition to the two XF105s, the company operates a CF85, the first DAF it purchased in 2007. It also has a refurbished Kenworth W model with more than six million kilometres on the clock.
“Over the years, we have operated most American and European brands on the road,” Paul said. “The DAFs are as good as any trucks we’ve used. They offer the right combination of performance, economy and reliability, as well as driver comfort and safety. That’s a winning combination for our company and our operators,” Paul said.
DAF’s multi award-winning XF105 has the power and reliability to handle a variety of long-haul, heavy-duty applications, from tanker operations to interstate distribution, and it has the maneuverability to negotiate urban environments with ease. Like all DAFs in the local range, the XF105 has been designed to provide optimum performance in Australia’s unique operations and taxing environments.
Ramsay’s took possession of its first XF105 in December 2012, and the second in August 2013. The first one has clocked up over 500,000 km, and the second more than 160,000 km. Ramsay’s XF105s are expected to cover one million kilometres in three years, making them the hardest-working DAFs in Australia.
Both DAFs have the same specifications and are configured as FTT 6×4 prime movers, rated to a GCM of 70,000 kg.
Ramsay’s model is powered by a PACCAR MX, 13-litre engine with SCR technology, producing 510 hp (375 kW) at 1500 -1900 rpm and 1845 lb/ft (2500 Nm) of torque at 1000 – 1410 rpm. The truck features a ZF AS-Tronic 16AS2630 16-speed overdriven automated transmission, DAF 152N front axle (rated to 7500 kg) and Meritor MT23-165 rear axles (17,000 kg).
The model includes differential locks with ASR (anti-slip regulation) for improved traction. It also has ABS, EBS and cruise control as standard, and Lane Departure Warning for improved safety for all road users. In addition Ramsay’s model is fitted with three long-range 500-litre fuel tanks, 100-litre AdBlue tank, PACCAR Airglide 400 rear suspension and DAF’s roomy Super Space Cab.
The company has fitted both XF105s with custom-made horse floats. Its first XF105 pulls a single trailer which can transport up to 15 horses. Its latest DAF is fitted with Australia’s first and only B-double horse float – a state-of-the-art 26-metre trailer that can comfortably carry 23 horses.
More than 50 percent of the horses the DAFs transport across the country are thoroughbred racehorses, and the other half comprise standardbreds for harness racing, and recreational horses that compete in horse shows, dressage and show jumping.
Both trucks manage nine-day Perth to Sydney return trips three times a month. The DAFs leave and return with a full load of horses, stopping each night at a company depot or prearranged farm. The trucks average 1100 km a day, stopping every four hours to rest the horses.
Each truck carries medical supplies, 1000 litres of water and 14 bags of shandy chaff feed – enough to last several days. Paul says this is particularly important when crossing the Nurrarbor which, in some parts, does not have any fresh, accessible water.
“When you are carrying 23 premium horses worth up to $20 million – particularly top stallions and mares in breeding season– you make sure you’re using well-engineered trucks that won’t let you down,” Paul said. “We cannot afford to break down, especially when we’re in remote parts of WA and SA. That’s one reason why we bought DAF and will continue to buy DAF.”
“Our drivers love their DAFs. They are very quiet and comfortable to operate on long shifts and they provide a smooth ride for the operator and our precious cargo,” Paul said. “As the name suggests, DAF’s Super Space Cab is very spacious and luxurious with all of the appointments you could ask for. We’ve had ours fitted with reverse-cycle air-conditioning, a TV and a microwave. It’s the perfect home away from home for our drivers who spend a week and a half on the road.”
Paul says DAF ticks all the boxes for companies too.
“We expect a lot of our trucks, and our DAFs have never let us down. They deal with wide-ranging conditions, from hot and dusty, undulating and unsealed country roads to thick city traffic, narrow suburban streets and remote farms. The XF105s are versatile, highly maneuverable and fuel efficient. They save us time and money, and provide safe transport for our unique and irreplaceable passengers.”
Paul says dealer service and parts support are important components of any truck purchase; something that many
operators don’t realise until it’s too late.
“If your rig is off the road because you can’t get parts, it doesn’t matter how good the truck is, it’s costing you money in downtime. With PACCAR, you get the whole package – well-designed vehicles that are built to perform and last, and they’re backed by the industry’s best dealer service and parts support. I have bought other brands in the past and then discovered the dealer didn’t have the parts or couldn’t fit them for several days. I only made that mistake once. Now I look at the big picture, and that’s why I keep buying DAF,” he explained.
Ramsay’s Horse Transport plans to purchase another CF85 in 2015 for regional work in WA.
DAF Trucks Australia, a division of PACCAR Australia, distributes a complete range of medium and heavy-duty trucks throughout Australia. PACCAR Inc, a Six Sigma company, is a global technology leader in the design, manufacture and customer support of high-quality light, medium, and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF nameplates. PACCAR also designs and manufactures advanced diesel engines, provides financial services and information technology, and distributes truck parts related to its principal business.