BG Gets 800 on Midnitetraintogeorga

BG Gets 800 on Midnitetraintogeorga

Bruce Stewart

2nd September 2021

Popular Southland driver Brent Barclay came out of lockdown, took the handbrake off and drove three winners at Ascot Park today, achieving a major milestone – driving his 800th New Zealand winner.

This means he’s the third most successful driver in Southland harness racing history, behind Clark Barron (1,038) and Nathan Williamson (909).

Win number 800 for Brent Barclay

The 800th winner came in the first race with Barclay driving the favourite Midnitetraintogeorga to win for Gore trainer Tony Stratford.

Saluting 800 New Zealand winners

His other wins today were Heez Good for Amber Hoffman and Get Lucky for Alister Black. Barclay also drove runners-ups Bettors Highlight, In The Groove, Total Eclipse and Major Punter.

Heez Good stretching out to win his first race

Back to the birdcage – win number two for Barclay

Get Lucky winning for Alister Black and Brent Barclay

Barclay began his driving career back in the 1989-’90 season, in which he drove six winners as a junior.

His first was Dougie Wood, trained by his father Keith, driven at Westport on 26th December 1989. 

“He was a hard case old horse. He won on both days at Westport in the mud. We went for the bonus in Greymouth and ran second,” Barclay said.

More recently he’s formed a potent association with Ryal Bush trainer Brett Gray and Gray’s stable has provided him with 111 winners.

He’s also spent time working for Bud Baynes, Kirk Larsen, Wayne Adams, Noel Creighton, Lauren Pearson, Grant Dixon and Darrel Graham.

“Working for Darrel was great fun. We were battling a bit here in 2013 and I went over to work for Grant. We just needed a bit of a change. I was there for about ten or eleven months. He had a lot of horses in work and I did a lot of driving.”

Barclay says he enjoyed mixing it with the Australians when he was there but says things have changed.

“They run ridiculous times, particularly in Brisbane. There’s a lot of young ones starting out and they don’t let up.”

It was while he was working for Creighton that he got his first big break driving quality pacer Corumba.

“I used to got to Aussie every year for three months. When I came back I worked at Noel’s.”

In the 1995 season he won the Kindergarten and Welcome Stakes while the following year he drove Corumba to win the Southern Supremacy Stakes.

“He was untapped. I was probably too young at that time to be driving him. If I knew then what I know now I would have educated him a bit more but he was a pretty special horse.”

When asked if his driving style has changed very much over the years, Barclay said “Not really. If you’ve got one that can’t do a lot of work you just have to drive them conservatively. If you’re driving the best horse you have to drive them like the best horse.”

He’s won many Southland racing features (see below), was also the Southland Junior Driver of the Year in 1996 and 1997, the Southland Driver of the Year in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and he won the Interprovincial Drivers Championship in 2006.

Another highlight of his career was winning the 2018 Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes for partner Lauren Pearson and sponsor Lester Smith.

“He was a big gentle giant. In hindsight we wish we hadn’t sold him. That’s just the way it goes. The money was good and Lester had other ones coming on.”

Duke Of Wellington with trainer Lauren Pearson

One of those horses was Duke Of Cornwell who raced last season as a two year old, finishing third in the Kindergarten Stakes.

“He’s come up okay. He had his first hopple run the other day. He was out for three months and he hasn’t developed as much as we would have hoped. We may get him gelded. All he has to do is harden up a bit.”

Duke Of Cornwell

In the thirty one seasons Barclay’s been driving he’s had a strong association with fillies and mares including Western Dream, Windermere Girl, Bonnie Lass and Jamie. He’s won seven Group Two races and four Group Three features.

“I only had three or four drives on Western Dream and won them all.”

Barclay also had a great association with Roger, John and Katrina Price, driving thirty six winners for the Winton trainers including Looksaflyer which won the 2006 Southern Supremacy Stakes.

“He was probably one of the most underrated horses. He was a very good horse that came to a bad end.”

Of the 800 winners 171 of those have been trotters, including Be Not Afraid and Super Fast Pat.

“We probably never saw the best of him (Super Fast Pat). He broke a New Zealand record but he always seemed to have issues. I don’t think we ever had him flat in any race I drove him in. He had some ticker.”

Super Fast Pat

These days Barclay restricts himself pretty much to driving in the deep south.

“Wyndham was always my favourite track. I’d like to drive a Group One but I can’t see that happening as I don’t venture too far these days. If I drive a thousand winners by the time I’m sixty I’ll be happy.”

Over the years one driver stands out for the Winton horseman.

“Back in the day it was always Henry Skinner. He always drove for my father. He was one I idolised and a super driver. In the end I ended up driving for him with horses like Whanau.”

Barclay is also one of the Southern drivers supporting the Blue September campaign which raises money for Prostate Cancer.

“I got asked to do it and was only too happy to. I’m at an age (40 – 50 year olds) where it’s become more common. There are a lot of people I know that are getting it. It’s a cruel disease so anything we can do to help would be great.”

And according to Barclay a horse to keep an eye on this season is three year old trotting filly One More Moment which is owned by Kenny Baynes and trained by Brett Gray.  The Majestic Son filly qualified at Winton last month.

“She goes really good.”

Brent Barclay Fact File:

First winner: Dougie Wood – Westport 26th December 1989 trained by his father Keith. (The horse won the very next day).

Trainers worked for: Bud Baynes, Kirk Larsen, Wayne Adams, Noel Creighton, Lauren Pearson, Grant Dixon and Darrel Graham.

Most winning drives (trainers): (23rd May 2021)

  • Brett Gray: 111
  • Wayne Adams: 83
  • Lauren Pearson: 50
  • Roger, Katrina and John Price: 36
  • Murray Brown: 18

Group winners:

  • Dadndave – Group Three Invercargill Cup – January 2020
  • Duke Of Wellington – Group Two Southern Supremacy Stakes – April 2018
  • Waikiki Beach – Group Three Kindergarten Stakes – February 2015
  • Natal Franco – Group Three Nevele R Stakes – March 2007
  • Jackson Street – Group Two Sapling Stakes – February 2006
  • Western Dream – Group Two Nevele R Stakes – March 2005
  • Bought In The Pub – Group Two Kindergarten Stakes – February 2003
  • Windermere Girl – Group Two Southland Oaks – March 1999
  • Corumba – Group Two Southern Supremacy Stakes – February 1996
  • Corumba – Group Two Welcome Stakes – April 1995
  • Corumba – Group Three Kindergarten Stakes – February 1995

Best season (51): 2003. Winners included Love’s A Flyin, The Jailer, Bel Cardo Master, Whanau and Dreamo Denario.

Biggest stakes earning season ($500,431): 2019

Southern feature race wins:

  • Wyndham Cup: Jour De Chance (1997)
  • Kindergarten Stakes: Corumba (1995), Bought In The Pub (2003) and Waikiki Beach (2015)
  • Winton Cup: Vintage Cheddar (2021)
  • Southern Belle Speed Series: Better To Be Bad (2013)
  • Northern Southland Cup: Windermere Girl (2000) and Bonnie Lass (2001)
  • Caduceus Fillies Classic: Western Dream (2005)
  • Aparima Trot: Be Not Afraid (1998) and Experiment (2013)
  • Invercargill Cup: Dadndave (2020)
  • Gore Cup: Jim Dandy (2000)
  • Wairio Cup: Goodnight Aveross (2002) and Jamie (2006)
  • Southern Supremacy Stakes: Duke Of Wellington (2018), Looksaflyer (2006) and Corumba (1996)
  • Southland Oaks: Windermere Girl (1999)
  • Southern Country Cups Final: Bonnie Lass (2001), Whanau (2003) and The Jaccka (2005)
  • Robin Dundee Crown: Born To Boogie (2019)
  • Equine Stakes: Magnetic Chip (1993), Whanau (2002) and Shezacullengirl (2018)
  • Hunter Handicap: Char DO Neigh (2006)
  • Bluff Cup: Young Conqueror (2017)

Other achievements:

  • Southland Junior Driver of the Year: 1996 and 1997
  • Southland Driver of the Year: 2006, 2007 and 2008
  • Interprovincial Drivers Championship: 2006

3 winners in a day: (29 times)

4 winners in a day: (3 times)

  • 9th May 2019 – Forbury Park: Robbie Royale, Kotare Elite, Look Both Ways and Betterthanspraying.
  • 15th December 2006 – Wairio: Jamie, Fino, Hillarys Home and Dynamic Atom.
  • 13th December 2002 – Forbury Park: Cool Chip, Cripple Creek, Sayonara and Jay See Eye.

Stats:

Total number of drives: 8211

Winners: 800

Seconds: 793

Thirds: 767

Trotting winners: 171

Total stakes: $5,702,090