IN Racing
Barnes and Marsh claim Taupo double
“She was really nice and relaxed in front, and she was tough to hold onto the win. It was a really good effort.”
Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk | May 23, 2024
Courtney Barnes winning aboard the Stephen Marsh-trained Lovaci at Taupo on Wednesday. Photo: Peter Rubery (Race Images Palmerston North)

Courtney Barnes is on track for a career-best season in the saddle and continued her winning roll with a double at Taupo on Wednesday.

Originally commencing her career in the South Island, Barnes has surpassed the 30-win mark twice before, first as an apprentice in 2012/13 and last term where she accumulated 39 and a pair of stakes winners.

Heading to Taupo, Barnes was sitting on 33, and she saluted in her opening ride of the meeting, guiding Irish Miss to break maiden status in the Kingsclere Stables / Roger James / Robert Wellwood (1750m).

The Stephen Marsh-trained daughter of Savabeel had been a $14 chance on the TAB tote, but jumped efficiently to settle in the box-seat trailing Short, receiving the ideal split into the home straight. The filly hit the front at the 150m, and fended off race-favourites The Sky Above and Ever Charm to score by a neck.

Barnes had partnered Irish Miss at each of her two prior starts, and was pleasantly surprised by the three-year-old’s speed from the barrier.

“We thought she might be ridden midfield or further back, but she jumped so well that she’s put herself right there,” she said.

“She travelled a lot better, got through the ground well and really found the line nicely.”

After initially being sold to Rogerson Bloodstock for $140,000 at the 2022 Karaka Yearling Sales, Irish Miss was reoffered at breeder Sir Patrick Hogan’s Unreserved Dispersal Sale and changed hands to co-owner James Bruford for $14,000.

Barnes was back in the winner’s circle three races later aboard another of Marsh’s representatives, the more-fancied Lovaci, who was the $4.50 second-favourite for the Entain/NZB Insurance Pearl Series (1300m).

Unlike the race-favourite Saluto, who jumped five lengths last, Lovaci went straight to the head of the field and maintained a solid tempo through the mid-stages, and never let up the pressure as she opened up by four lengths in the straight.

Saluto put in a sustained effort to get within a ¾ length of the Tivaci filly, but she hung tough and collected her maiden success at start four.

“I’ve had a bit to do with Lovaci, and she’s been a work progress at home so it was good to see her get the job done today,” Barnes said.

“She was really nice and relaxed in front, and she was tough to hold onto the win. It was a really good effort.”

Lovaci was a $280,000 purchase by Marsh at the 2022 Karaka Yearling Sales, with her dam Lovaeable a half-sister to multiple-Group One winner and ill-fated sire Sacred Falls.

Waikato-based Barnes was one of three jockeys to claim a winning double on the card, with Opie Bosson (Sorghaghtani & Incredible) and Sam Spratt (Washi & Did The Trick) also picking up a pair of winners at Taupo.

She has six and seven rides at Trentham and Wingatui respectively later in the week, with Robbie Patterson’s Group Three performer Conor O’Ceirin a key engagement in the Majestic Horse Floats 1400.

“I’m really looking forward to riding Conor O’Ceirin at Wellington,” she said.

Stephen Marsh Irish Miss Lovaci Tivaci Courtney Barnes Robbie Patterson Conor O’Ceirin Savabeel