She is one of the heroes behind the scenes keeping harness racing’s breeding industry churning and Victoria’s Lorraine Barnes is most likely responsible for your investment in harness racing.
Whether you are an owner, breeder, trainer, driver, punter or a keen follower of the sport, Barnes has most likely played a role in the horse you have had some involvement in.
Barnes is an owner, breeder, studmaster and sponsor herself.
Yet another area of her expertise is semen transport, that Barnes dedicates passionate time to.
The countless hours she spends co-ordinating and travelling on the road to get her job done may seem like a big task for most but for Barnes “it is what it is”.
She co-ordinates shipment of semen from Victoria to all corners of Australia, shipping away or delivering 30-50 boxes per day during the breeding season.
Just one example of Barnes’ commitment was in the last COVID-impacted breeding season, she would travel from her base at Tatura, near Shepparton, to arrive at Melbourne Airport at 6am to deliver boxes going to New Zealand and waited until 11am for the arrival of boxes to repack and ship around Australia and deliver around Victoria.
Barnes would then drive to deliver boxes in regional New South Wales going to Albury, Wagga Wagga, Young, Forbes, Parkes, Orange and Bathurst returning the next day, and repeated this a few times a week.
“I’m on odd person, I can do that and it doesn’t seem like a lot to me,” said Barnes.
“My phone doesn’t stop until midnight some days.
“I went from working three days a week to 13 days a fortnight but what else can you do where you work five months of the year and have seven months off?”
This is just one of the many factors that saw Barnes become the beneficiary of the Pearl Kelly Award, the Angelique Club’s honour, at Harness Racing Victoria’s virtual Gordon Rothacker Medal celebrations earlier this week.
Barnes was recognised for her five decades of service to the industry and to quote HRV she is “a trailblazing breeder who’s owned winners at more than 23 Victorian tracks, volunteered with Traralgon, Echuca and Kilmore trots clubs for more than 40 years, sat on the Victorian Breeders’ Association committee and served as Victorian Studmasters’ Association secretary.”
Barnes is not one for accolades but was pleasantly surprised with the honour.
“I was very surprised, humbled actually,” said Barnes.
“There are a lot of people out there that deserve it more than me.
“I have no idea why I do what I do, I certainly don’t do it for the money.
“I grew up in the industry and knew nothing else.
“Luckily I married a husband that supported what I do and became just as involved in the industry as me.”
Barnes’ husband Geoff Barnes is proud of her achievement.
“She’s a doer and a giver,” he said.
“The fact that she has three fairly prominent awards means something.”
In 2011 Barnes was the recipient of Harness Racing NSW’s Outstanding Service to the Breeding Industry and 2018 the Harness Racing Australia Meritorious Achievement Award.
She has raced and bred some notable winners including Newsbreaker, Admiral’s Armour, Barefoot Sally, Im Fulla Luck and Miss Dreamin to name a few.
Barnes had her own stud Balmain Lodge and first became involved in semen transport in 1998.
“Geoff and I went to New Zealand to help Nevele R Stud when they had Jaccka Lodge Stud as a semen base,” said Barnes.
“When we returned after the two years I started helping Goulburn Valley Equine a couple of days a week and now help many studs from Alabar NZ, Alabar Australia, Nevele R Stud, Woodlands NZ, Northern Rivers Equine, Yabby Dam Farms and studs in NSW too.”
It is no wonder Barnes has over 700 contacts in her phone on speed dial!
These are just some of the feats Barnes has contributed to the harness racing industry in her years of involvement.
Article used with permission; with thanks to Amanda Rando for Harnesslink - copyright 2021