Meet the Barnes boys...two brothers with a deep passion for harness racing, sparked by their fierce competitiveness and desire to succeed in a challenging, and at times, tough business.
Hayden, 18 and his younger brother Brendan, 17, have kick-started their budding careers following breakout seasons where both young men enjoyed strong success with their respective stables.
Like most ‘cutting their teeth’ in the sport, they floated from stable to stable trying to gain as much experience as possible in the early stages before locking down full-time positions with bigger stables.
Now, they’re on their way.
Hayden made a mid-season switch from the Darrel Graham stable to Chantal Turpin and Pete McMullen, while Brendan was excited at the opportunity to leave Bart Cockburn and link with the bigger stables of Vicki Rasmussen and Shane Graham.
Both thoroughly enjoy driving, and since taking on their new roles, have been a regular site on the track.
“We love to drive and luckily, our new roles have provided us with a great opportunity to spend more time racing and it’s been great,” Hayden said.
“It’s all about experience and you can’t get that sitting in the stands, both Brendan and I are very thankful for the opportunities we were given from previous stables we worked with and that’s steered us in the right direction.”
Brendan has risen to prominence quickly as highlighted by his 40 wins last season, which saw him outdrive his concession claim for the term.
On August 23, Brendan registered his maiden metropolitan double at Albion Park when successful with the Rasmussen-trained Drunken Desire and the Brian Manzelmann-prepared Getinbehind.
And not to be outdone, Hayden landed his initial metropolitan victory at Albion Park on the final night of the season when My Jellignite, prepare by Turpin, surprised his rivals in 1:53.3.
The Barnes’ have also played significant roles for their respective stables, which enjoyed milestone moments in 2013/14.
In a personal best, Rasmussen’s stable had more than 200 wins, while Chantal registered her first century season.
“It’s been a hectic season, but it’s been great fun along the way and we’ve learned so much both on and off the track,” Brendan explained. “We’ve worked long and hard but this is what we like doing and we wouldn’t swap it for anything.”
“Hayden and I realise we are lucky to have sounding boards like we do in Shane and Peter, they’re great drivers and are happy to give us any advice we need and that’s crucial when you’re competing on track.”
The boys also have an always ready mentor in their father, Al, who is “proud as punch” watching his two sons in action.