Day At The Track

Pearl of a drive by Bec Bartley

09:39 PM 11 Jan 2019 NZDT
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Rebecca Bartley
Rebecca Bartley (centre) with sponsor Tony Kiel and his daughter Jaimee Kiel
Cohen Mortimer and the Swan Hill Guardian Photo

The darling of Victorian harness racing, Bec Bartley, couldn’t hide her excitement after scoring an all-the-way victory in the Kiel Tiling 2019 Blue Pearl Classic.

Bartley, 27, took out the prestigious, female-drivers-only event at Swan Hill on Wednesday night with classy four-year-old Three Summas, prepared by astute horseman Russell Jack.

“I’m over the moon with the win – just being invited to take part was a huge honor as it’s a bit special, but I’m stoked to be successful,” Bartley said.

The annual Blue Pearl Classic, now in its third year, is aimed at highlighting the contributions of reinswomen in the sport. The $8000 race also carried a $1000 blue pearl necklace for the winning driver and an inscribed rug for the victorious owner. And keeping with the “girls’ night out” theme, talented race caller Victoria Shaw took centre stage and called the event with aplomb.

Bartley, who drove in the feature event last year, said she was reasonably confident after finding the top soon after the start with Three Summas (Somebeachsomewhere - Summa of Dreams).

“I drove him recently at the trials and he is certainly a horse with a bright future ahead of him,” she said.

“When I was able to get away with some easy quarters, he was always going to be hard to run down.”

Three Summas had a two-metre advantage at the wire over Arden Voyager (Kate Gath, with a short head back to in-form Ouyen 3yo Mallee Reactor (Ellen Tormey).

The first quarter was in a leisurely 32 seconds, but then things hotted up with 29.8, 28.7 and a super slick 26.6 for the final split.

Three Summas now has eight wins and five placings from 16 starts for over $80,000.

The Blue Pearl Classic contenders, (L-R) Rebecca Bartley, Ellen Tormey, Monique Burnett, Abbey Turnbull, Shannon O’Sullivan and Kate Gath with race sponsor Tony Kiel

Bartley said it was a pleasure to get the win for trainer Russell Jack and owners Todd and Wendy Rivett.

“Russell lives just around the corner from us and I’ve known him a long time, while the Rivetts are from Swan Hill and just love the sport,” she said.

Bartley has been catapulted into the limelight over the past few years through her deeds with brilliant gelding San Carlo.

After dropping out of high school at the end of Year 10, pint-sized Bartley, who could have easily been a jockey, was always going to be involved with horses.

“It’s in the family blood and I think it was within three weeks that I had a job with Stephen and Anne O’Donoghue, at Morley Park near Shepparton,” Bartley said.

“I’ve now been with them for 11 years and I can say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it,” she said.

“It’s hard to keep at it, as anyone in the industry would agree, but there’s always challenges and that’s the part I enjoy.

“Whether it’s getting a problem horse sorted out and then to the track, or handling and educating a champion like San Carlo, there’s that satisfaction at the end.”

Bartley is quick to want to talk more about San Carlo...and who could possibly blame her?!

The powerhouse has been on a rampage in country cups, taking the Maryborough, Yarra Glen, Cranbourne and Bendigo feature events in his stride.

But perhaps a little surprising, Bartley names an Interdominion heat win in Perth as her highlight.

“Yes, that does stand out because it was a big experience traveling to Perth, and there was the expectations, the pressure and all that stuff and I still remember the absolute relief when we took out a qualifying heat,” she said.

With a big team of 25 horses in work, Bartley’s career is testament to the old adage that hard work brings success.

“Some days are harder than others, but I love it and I don’t really know anything else but horses.”

Hoofnote: Bartley will drive San Carlo in the rich $60,000 Shepparton Cup on Saturday, January 12.

To watch the video (R5) click on this link.

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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