The 2023 Cowra Cup will live long in Jake Barrett’s memory as the first major win of his burgeoning career.
The 23-year-old jockey brought up career win number 40 when guiding the Michael Mulholland-trained Sea of Flames to victory in the $36,000 feature, and wasn’t he pleased to get the job done for the Dubbo stable.
“It was a very nice win and if you go back through the weights, it was a mighty big effort,” Barrett said.
“On true weight, he should have only carried 48kg, but he did it with 53kg on his back and it was a demolition job in the end.”
Barrett rode Sea of Flames ($3.40) just off the pace in the 1600m country cup and he watched on as Nieces and Nephews (Molly Bourke, $3.70) and Careering Away (Jess Taylor, $41) set a quick tempo up front.
Entering the turn for home, Barrett and Sea of Flames tracked the Rob Potter-trained Milamoo (Louise Day, $21) into the race and eventually proved too good for the Canberra visitor, winning by 0.62 of a length, while in third and a further 3.57 lengths away was the fast-finishing Knife’s Edge (Mikayla Weir, $2.60) from the Gary Lunn yard.
Barrett explained that the race went to plan.
“I spoke to Mick before the race, and he thought we might be a bit closer forward. He wanted us fourth or fifth, and once I jumped out, I saw Careering Away go forward and it latched on to Nieces and Nephews and from there, it was on,” Barrett said.
“Going around the back, he (Sea of Flames) half wanted to go with them, and I told him ‘not right now’, but he wanted to get his head up to go forward but I rated him as good as I could around the back.
“At the 600m, I saw that the leaders were starting to come back to the field, and Louise Day travelled by and gave me a good tow into the race, and from the 400m, we both balanced up and it was a real battle.
“I went full bore on him, wound him right up, and once I put him under the stick, he really sealed the deal in the last 150m and showed his true class.”
Born on the Central Coast, Barrett spent time with Gai Waterhouse and Kim Waugh before eventually making the move west to Brett Robb’s Dubbo yard in 2022.
He’s hasn’t looked back either, making his mark in the Western and Central Districts, but he was the first to admit Sunday’s win was an emotional one for multiple reasons.
“It was special. I gave a big roar through the line, and I was just so excited because it is the biggest win of my career,” Barrett said.
“Getting my first winner was exciting, but this was emotional, and I had a tear in my eye when I came back to the enclosure, and it was more because of how far I’ve come in 12 months.
“I’ve gone from not riding a winner to winning the Cowra Cup, and that might not be big for some other people, but for me, it’s massive and I couldn’t be any prouder.
“Plus, to do it on Sea Of Flames, a horse that I’ve won three races on, and a horse I do get the best out of, it just means so much more.”
Barrett was just as thrilled for Mulholland and connections, and grateful to be linked with the stable.
“As much as he is a good horse, it comes back to Mick Mulholland,” Barrett said.
“He’s a freak of a trainer, and the things he does with his horses just don’t happen and there aren’t many people that can do what he does with horses that he buys for $1500 and $3000.”
Barrett’s win on Sea of Flames was the highlight of Sunday’s eight-race Cowra Cup program at Orange.
In the second feature on the day, the Dean Mirfin-trained Whatsin (Jamie Powell, $6) won the 1280m Cowra Japan Cup by 0.33 of a length from the Brett Thompson-trained Larynx (Clayton Gallagher, $3,20), while in third and 0.67 of a length off the pace was the Michael Mulholland-trained Cheptegei (Serg Lisnyy, $4.20).
For results click here.