Day At The Track

Sam ticks off a few firsts with style

03:00 PM 16 Oct 2019 NZDT
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Sam Barker,Harness racing
Sam Barker with one of his recent winners Tothemoonandback for trainer Barry Finnis

Victorian junior concessional driver Sam Barker is a young man with an energy and passion for the sport of harness racing that’s sure to take him places.

And lately the 21-year-old has been quietly going about ticking off items on his “things to do” list.

Barker drove his first Melton winner last month, something that he’s longed to achieve, and then prepared his first winner as a licensed trainer.

“It was exciting times there for a while. But I got a bit of luck and it all fell into place,” he said.

“I just hope it continues because I’d love to get more driving opportunities, especially while I still have my five-point claim.”

Barker has been working for over three years at the Long Forest stables of Andy and Kate Gath, situated between Melton and Bacchus Marsh, west of Melbourne.

“They are just fantastic and have been a huge influence on my career. Not only do they teach you a lot, but it’s always in a professional manner,” Barker said.

“Both Andy and Kate are very good role models. I am enjoying my time with them that’s for sure.”

It was with some irony that Barker beat his “boss” Kate when he posted his first Melton victory aboard five-year-old horse Success Counts (Imperial Count-Successor (Sundon) at odds of 12/1.

“I was a bit nervous when Kate was getting an inside run on the stablemate Galleons Glory because my fellow trotted a little bit rough up the home straight the previous week and ended up in a gallop,” Barker said.

“I just wanted him to keep trotting over the final stages and thought he could run a nice race – and he did.

“It was so good that Andy and Kate, along with the owners, gave me the opportunity.”

Barker, who now has a small team in training himself, said he had always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his dad, Kelvin.

Kelvin Barker, based at Ballarat, has been a well-regarded trainer-driver over the years.  However he’s now concentrating on the training side to good effect, posting a career-best season last season, with a dozen winners.

“Dad has about 10 in work at the moment and is still enjoying it,” Barker said.

“Further down the track it’s my aim to establish myself as a trainer. I see my future in that role,” he said.

Barker registered his first training win at Ballarat recently with bay mare Beat The Drums (Modern Art-Highview Congo(McArdle) with Kate Gath taking the reins.

“I own that horse myself after buying it off Barry Finnis, who lives in South Australia,” he said.

“But most of the horses I’ve got belong to a friend in Lyndon Turner, who is a reasonably big breeder. He is right into it and does pretty well.”

Barker said from a very young age, he had always wanted to get involved in harness racing.

“I attended Ballarat Christian College. I finished Year Nine and then it was virtually off working with the horses,” he said.

“When I’m asked to name my favorite track I suppose I should say Melton because I’ve now driven a winner there and it is okay – but despite the very cold nights in winter, I would have to label Ballarat as the best.”

Barker has been in good form so far this season from limited driving opportunities. He has posted three wins from 11 drives.


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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