New Zealand news briefs

Innes enjoying retirement

While winter is usually a quieter time for Lieth Innes, the former hoop said he is enjoying it a lot more in retirement this year.

Innes bowed out of riding in May after winning the Gr.1 Queensland Derby (2400m) abord Pinarello in the colours of Cambridge Stud’s Brendan and Jo Lindsay, for whom he was their retained rider for a number of years.

“It was super, especially to be winning for Cambridge Stud and Brendan and Jo Lindsay,” Innes said. 

“They have been great supporters of mine for a long time, so it was good to repay the faith that they had put in me and allowing me to ride in Australia.”

While Innes was over the moon to end his illustrious career on such a high, he said retirement from raceday riding has allowed him to focus on other important aspects of his life, namely his family.

“I have managed to get to the kids’ sport which I have missed out on for most of their life, so it has been good going to watch them play,” he said.

The scale has been a constant companion in Innes’ life for the last couple of decades and he said he hasn’t missed them, although he admitted he hasn’t had much of an appetite with his less active lifestyle.

“Believe it or not, with not working I am not that hungry. I certainly haven’t gone on the scales anyway,” he said.

“I haven’t missed jumping in the bath on a Friday and Saturday morning to go and ride in the winter.”

In his time as a jockey, Innes planned for life after racing and is being kept busy with his golf cart business he established during his riding career.

“We have got 25 hire carts that we rent out to events,” he said. “I have got to take four down to Hamilton Gardens tomorrow. 

“Even though it is quiet over winter, it does pick up a bit over summer. We have got music events coming back so it is going to be quite busy.”

While Innes is enjoying life outside of racing at the moment, he said he would like to keep his hand in the industry.

“I am still sitting on my hands at the moment, but I would still like to stay in the industry somehow. It has been pretty good to me so I am wanting to give something back,” he said. 

200 wins for Barnes

Getting to 200 career victories wasn’t a big thing for Courtney Barnes at the beginning of the season, but it’s definitely been on her mind in the past few weeks.

The 27-year-old brought up her 199th victory aboard Red Rufus at Riccarton on June 25, but went winless at Rotorua, Cambridge, Riccarton, and Ruakaka in the past week as she sought the elusive 200.

However, she went to Wingatui on Sunday hopeful she could reach the milestone, and it finally arrived via Kitty Power in the seventh race of the day, a Rating 74 1600m event.

“I’d had a bit of a tough day,” Barnes said. “I thought I had a good chance in the first race with Far Lun, but he ran third so it wasn’t to be in that race,” she said.

“But I knew Kitty Power would be a good chance, so when I was able to get her home I was stoked. It was really good to get to the line.”

Barnes produced a clinical ride aboard Kitty Power, settling the Kelvin and Aimee Tyler-trained Dalghar mare one out and one back from the pace. She brought Kitty Power to the centre of the track on the home turn and the pair raced away for a 2-1/4-length victory.

“She’s a horse that’s always thereabouts. I think I had a third on her two starts back, and I thought she would definitely run in the money,” Barnes said.

“That was the best she’s ever travelled when I’ve ridden her.”

Barnes didn’t waste time bringing up win number 201, scoring on the 14-1 shot Jessie’s Rock in the very next race, a Rating 65 1600m contest. She brought the Terry Kennedy trainee from midfield and raced away for a two-length victory.

“It was my first ride on him, but he’d been racing well on better ground and the word was that he’d be much better on heavier footing,” she said.

“He travelled really nicely and took me into the race at the right time and he saw the mile out really well.”

She said both horses might well have targets at the Grand National carnival at Riccarton next month. She thought both would handle 2000m if asked.

Barnes began her career in the South Island as an apprentice for the Anderton Family of White Robe Lodge. She was based in the south for most of her career before making a move to Cambridge last year.

“It’s definitely been a challenge moving up north, but I’ve enjoyed it,” Barnes said.

“It’s harder to get good rides, it’s more competitive, but I’m happy to be here. Stephen Marsh in particular has been a really good help.”

Despite the move north, Barnes has been a regular visitor to South Island race meetings to keep getting rides.

“It hasn’t been a problem, and I’ve been able to pick up a number of rides down south,” Barnes said. “I have a lot of good connections in the south and it’s great to come and ride for them.”

Marsh provided two winners for Barnes on the Cambridge synthetic track on June 15 in Fiscal Fun and Danelion, and she hopes to reunite with them back at Cambridge on July 13.

Before then, however, she’s taking a well-earned break.

“I’m heading to the Gold Coast in Australia on Tuesday for a week’s break, which will be really good,” she said.

“After that, I’m looking forward to returning to work and getting more rides.”

Barnes has ridden 19 winners in the 2021-22 season. She said she didn’t have any particular goals for the new season, other than to keep working hard and riding well, though if she could beat her previous best season for winners – 33 in 2013-14 – it would be a great bonus.

“I just want to build on this season, work as hard as I can, and get as many rides as I can,” she said.

“It would be great if I could maybe top my best season, but ultimately I just want to ride as many winners as I can.”

Prima Donna all horsepower at Wingatui

Prima Donna was a popular maiden winner at Wingatui for Andrew Carston, who trains the mare for his mechanic Tim Ford. 

The four-year-old showed off her gears with an eight-and-a-half-length win in the Speight’s maiden over 2200m. 

“She’s been building to a win so that was a great result,” Carston said. 

“It was great to get a win for Tim and his family as she’s the first horse I’ve trained for them so we’re off to a great start.”

Prima Donna was purchased by Tim Ford as a two-year-old out of a auction for the bargain price of $600. 

Carston said Prima Donna would return to his Riccarton-base where he will plot her next start. 

“She likes the cut out of the ground so we will find a rating 65 race for her somewhere in a couple of weeks’ time,” he said.