Day At The Track

Another special win – just for you, Pop!

06:00 AM 09 Apr 2019 NZST
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Jackie Barker and Rod Barker,Harness racing
Jackie Barker and Rod Barker
Ararat Harness Racing Club
Effervescent young Hamilton harness racing driver Jackie Barker enjoys every winner she can land, but every so often there’s a special one.
One of those memorable moments came at Ararat last Sunday night when Jackie led all the way with 20/1 long shot The Suspect (Safari-Kiriah Keys (Keystone Gondola USA) to take out the Alan Woods & Son Contractors Pace.
It wasn’t the long odds that were notable, but that the winner was trained by Jackie’s pop, legendary horseman 84-year-old Jim Barker.
“Winning a race for my pop means the most to me. It’s very special and we’ve been lucky to get a few winners together this season,” the 23-year-old said.
“This one was awesome because the race panned out the way I thought it would and we didn’t have to burn to get to the top,” Jackie said.
“The horse mostly ruins his chances because he over races very badly. I had a plan to try and lead and then just hope for the best. He still pulled, but not as bad as he can.”
The Suspect is an eight-year-old gelding owned by Michael Lawlor and Barker rated the pacer well at the head of affairs with even quarters of 29.3, 29.9, 30.9 and 32.9.

Jackie Barker and The Suspect           photo- Ararat Harness Racing Club
Jackie said there was excitement and jubilation after the race about the pacer’s first win from 39 attempts — the only disappointment was pop, Jim, wasn’t at the track.
“He was at home watching it on television. He hurt his back on the farm a while ago and it’s causing him a fair bit of pain. And I can tell you that he’s so sick of it,” Jackie said.
“The Suspect is so frustrating because he works brilliantly at home and can run so well. Nothing we’ve got beats him and in every other way he’s such a happy horse.
“We’ve tried heaps of pulling gear on him, but if he doesn’t appreciate it, he gets the sulks and that’s it.”
The Suspect was the first leg of a winning double for Jackie, with the second winner coming courtesy of the Barry Finnis-trained Beat The Drums (Modern Art USA-Highview Congo (McArdle USA) in the Latus Jewellers Ararat Pace.

Jackie Barker and Beat The Drums                        photo- Ararat Harness Racing Club
Starting a short-priced favorite, the four-year-old mare coasted along out in front and recorded an easy five-metre win over Okanes Devil, with a further six metres back to Flaming Lucky.
“There were a few others in the race that I was worried about, but Beat The Drums did it nicely,” Jackie said.
“I enjoy driving for the Finnis stable because they don’t put any pressure on me and virtually just send me out there knowing that I’ll be doing my very best,” she said.
“I started driving for them at Mt Gambier, and I did okay so they now use me as their second string driver, which is awesome.
“I also get to use my junior concessional claim as well.”
The double has Jackie well within striking distance of a career 100 wins.
“I think I’m now up to 93, so fingers crossed that I land a few more soon and get to that century milestone.”
The Barker stable operates from Jim’s 100-acre property, with a team of 20 in work.
“Many of them are young ones and I think dad may have broken in eight or nine this season, so we are really looking at finding a few good horses for the future,” Jackie said.
“Thankfully I don’t have to battle with dad for the drives because he gives me most of the opportunities. I have found it awfully hard to pick up many outside drives, but really appreciate the trainers who stick with me.”
A harness racing career was always on the cards for Jackie, who was desperate to follow in the footsteps of pop, Jim, and her father Rod, who is also well-known in harness racing circles, not only for his breaking-in of youngsters, but also as a handy freelance reinsman.
“I was wanting to get stuck into the horses as soon as possible, but mum stood firm and wouldn’t let me until after I’d finished Year 12,” Jackie said.
“I had actually done all my trials drives in readiness to get my driver’s licence by the time school ended.
“There was a university spot for me in animal science which would have eventually led to becoming a veterinary surgeon. I was half-hearted about it and had a gap year...then another!
“When I was into harness racing, I deferred. I may have enjoyed being a vet, but the costs and years of university study to get there were daunting.
“Besides I’m really a country girl, who loves just being around family in Hamilton.”
But if enthusiasm and hard work is the recipe to get near the top of her chosen sport, Jackie Barker is a certainty to do that in years to come.

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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