Earlier this year, Jake Barrett was riding ‘around tin sheds’ in country NSW, trying to make a name for himself as an apprentice jockey.
Fast forward to Saturday, and the 24-year-old is now a metropolitan winning hoop after he guided the Barbara Joseph, Paul and Matt Jones-trained Belleistic Kids to an all-the-way victory in the 1600m Benchmark 72 Handicap at Royal Randwick.
“I think, only six months ago, me and Kenny Dunbar were driving to Enngonia and staying at Bourke to eat Chinese food, and the fact I’m here today on the big stage, and to do it for Paul, Matt, and Barbara means the world to me,” Barrett said.
It was a classy ride, with the Canberra-trained galloper leading from the outside draw, and Barrett knew it was all over when he was handed the lead after two furlongs.
“I thought he would jump well; he seems to be a horse every time he draws wider, he doesn’t sit in the gates as long, and he seems to show a bit more natural toe,” Barrett said.
“First-up after a four-week freshen, I expected him to show a bit of that natural pace, and when Tim Clark wasn’t there doing what I expected him to do, and Chad (Schofield) realised pretty quickly I had good intentions to go forward, he gave it the easy run and the rest is history.”
When asked what it meant to win his first race in town, Barrett joked that he could retire today a happy man.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said.
“I was only talking about it with my really good mate Quayde Krogh this morning, saying, ‘Five years ago, I could barely sit on a horse’, and to ride a winner at Randwick today, you know you shouldn’t say it, but I could retire now and be happy.”
A well-travelled young jockey, Barrett has seen the highs and lows of the industry since kicking off his career in late 2021.
Still, he admitted that he was close to hanging up the whip before recently being handed a lifeline by the Joseph Jones team.
“I could give them all a big kiss right now,” Barrett said.
“They’re fantastic; they pulled me out of the dumps, and I was probably at my lowest and was probably nearly going to give the game away.
“They gave me a new lease on life and said, ‘Come on, Jake, move to Canberra, give it a real good crack, and we can do this’.
Barrett, thrilled with the early Christmas present, will get a couple of days to enjoy the moment before he’s back at work at the Sapphire Coast on Wednesday.