Day At The Track

Barclay joins elite drivers list

10:16 PM 17 Feb 2019 NZDT
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Nota Bene Denario,Harness racing
Nota Bene Denario winning at Winton
Photo Bruce Stewart

Southland reinsman Brent Barclay joined a very small number of Southland horsemen to drive 700 winners when today on his home track be drove Nota Bene Denario to win.

Clark Barron 1,038, Allan Beck 816, Nathan Williamson 749 and Henry Skinner 717 are the only other drivers in the province to have achieved the milestone.

“That was my main aim this year and to get it early is really good,” he said after winning on the Brett Gray trained four year old.

His first winner was Dougie Wood at Westport in 1989, a trotter that was trained by his father Keith.

“I was only about sixteen then. It was a long time ago.”

Over the thirty one seasons he’s been driving he’s driven some very good horses and says he seems to have had a special affinity with fillies and mares.

“I’ve driven a lot of good fillies actually like Whanau, Natal Franco and Windermere Girl. A lot of them were three year old fillies.”

Early in his career when he worked for Noel Creighton he drove the very good OK Bye juvenile pacer Corumba. He reined him to win the 1995 Welcome Stakes and 1995 Kindergarten Stakes.

“Corumba was a bit of a standout. I was pretty young when I drove him. I think if I drove him now he’d be a lot better horse.”

The following season he won the Southern Supremacy Stakes with Corumba. In all, Barclay drove him to win six times.

He’s had stints with Findlay Road trainer Wayne Adams for whom he’s driven eighty two winners with the first being Nevalookbak in 1997). Other trainers he’s worked for include Kirk Larsen, Bud Baynes and in Australia Darrell Graham and Grant Dixon.

These days he’s firmly attached to Brett Gray’s Ryal Bush stable and he feels he’s driving as good as ever.

“This year I’m probably driving as good as I ever have. I said to Lauren (partner Lauren Pearson) and Brett at the start of the season that I’ve got to be a bit more aggressive this year especially at the start. If you get back these days and try to get round them with the speed they’re going it’s just too hard. But there are certain horses you can’t go forward and burn too much.”

The win on Nota Bene Denerio was Barclay’s twenty seventh of the current season and his seventy second for Gray.

“For me to get this many wins early in the season is really good. We’ve had a really good run with Brett since we’ve come back from Australia. Couldn’t have worked out better.”

Barclay has ventured a couple of times to Australia to try his luck, linking up with Darrell Graham and the powerful Grant Dixon stable.    

“Over there it’s just attack attack attack. There’s no looking after them there. I thought I’d go well when I went there but it backfired a bit. But we still had a good run. I might have driven 50 winners while I was there. You were only ever on the second stringers and when you’re working for a stable like that you very rarely got any outside drives.”

Of the 700 New Zealand winners the horses he’s driven the most times to win (seven) have been Bonnie Lass, Be Not Afraid and Jamie.  

Barclay rates Duke Of Wellington as the most underrated horse he’s driven. He won five races with him last season including the Southern Supremacy Stakes.

“Last year he was still untapped I thought. We worked him up before he went over to Australia and I thought he’d improved immensely.”

Nice trotters he’s driven include Be Not Afraid (7), Johnny Wishbone (6) and Smokey Mac (6).

“I’m very lucky because I’ve driven 140 odd trotting winners and to be fair I think Full Noise is going to get there (best he’s driven). I really like driving a nice fluent trotter. Full Noise is a bit like that – he’s got a great gait, a good turn of speed and can also stay. I drove a trotter early on called Be Not Afraid. She was only one dimension. She was very fast, could trot all the way with a beautiful gait. This day and age she wouldn’t have won as many races.”

But back to today’s 700th winner. It was fitting that it was for Brett Gray and that it carried the number seven saddle cloth.

“People were probably saying he’s been disappointing but it was probably a drop in grade for him today. Brett’s changed a bit of gear on him and he just felt like his old self. He feels like quite a sharp horse.”

After leading early Barclay decided to hand up to Allan Beck when he came round on Bettor Enforce.  

“He felt super in front but when Becky came round I thought it was the one to beat. It worked out perfect.”  

For the record the winning margin was one and a quarter lengths.

All done and dusted - Photo Bruce Stewart 

The Brent Barclay 700 winner’s fact file:

  • Combined pacers and trotters: 7,355 starts, 700 winners, 684 seconds, 665 thirds for stakes of $4,765,303. Just trotters: 1266 starts, 142 winners, 130 seconds and 94 thirds.

  • Only four other Southland drivers have driven more winners: Clark Barron (1,038), Allan Beck (816) Nathan Willliamson (749) and Henry Skinner (717).

  • First winner was the trotter Dougie Wood on Boxing Day at Westport in 1989. He was trained by his father Keith.

  • Trainers worked for: Keith Barclay, Wayne Adams, Noel Creighton, Kirk Larsen, Bud Baynes and Australian trainers Darrel Graham and Grant Dixon.

  • Biggest winner: Corumba 1995 Welcome Stakes and 1995 Kindergarten Stakes.

  • Southland Junior Driver of the Year 1996 (10 wins) and 1997 (11 wins)

  • Southland races he’s won three times: Kindergarten Stakes; Corumba (1995), Bought In The Pub (2003) and Waikiki Beach (2015)

  • Southern Country Cups Final; Bonnie Lass (2001), Whanau (2003) and The Jaccka (2005).

  • AON Insurance Equine Stakes; Magnetic Chip (1993), Whanau (2002) and Shezacullengirl (2018)

  • Supremacy Stakes; Corumba (1996), Looksaflyer (2006) and Duke Of Wellington (2018)

  • Best season; 2003 – 51 winners

  • Winner of 2006 Interprovincial Drivers Championship

  • Winner of Southland Drivers Premiership in 2006 (37), 2007 (44) and 2008 (38)

Trainers- Most winners for: Wayne Adams (82-First: Nevalookbak 1/11/1997), Brett Gray (72-First: Frampton Bromac 8/1/2009), Lauren Pearson (41 – First: Eweburn Sun 8/1/2004) and Roger, John and Katrina Price (31 – First: Gypsy Road 26/11/1999)

Four winners in a day: Wairio 15th December 2006 (Jamie, Hillarys Home, Mystic Sun and Fino) and Forbury Park 13th December 2002 (Cool Chip, Sayonara, Cripple Creek and Jay See Eye).

Biggest wins:

  • 2018 Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes Final (Duke Of Wellington)

  • 2015 Alabar Kindergarten Stakes (Waikiki Beach)

  • 2006 Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes Final (Looksaflyer)

  • 2006 NZ Sapling Stakes (Jackson Brown)

  • 2005 Nevele R Stakes (Western Dream)

  • 2003 Southern Country Cups Final (Whanau)

  • 2001 Southern Country Cups Final (Bonnie Lass)

  • 1999 Southland Oaks Final (Windermere Girl)

  • 1995 New Zealand Kindergarten Stakes (Corumba)

  • 1995 New Zealand Welcome Stakes (Corumba)

  • 1996 Southern Supremacy Stakes Final (Corumba)

Biggest winners;

  • Bonnie Lass (7)

  • Be Not Afraid (7)

  • Jamie (7)

  • Johnny Wishbone (6)

  • Smokey Mac (6)

  • Corumba (6)

  • Duke Of Wellington (5)

  • Windermere Girl (5)

  • Natal Franco (5)

  • Scotty Mac (5)


by Bruce Stewart

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