Day At The Track

Louisa Barton: Harness racing’s busiest mum

09:42 AM 03 Oct 2019 NZDT
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Harness racing
From left to right, Sandra Weigel, Louisa Barton, Tommy and Ben, husband Rob and Horst Weigel

Pembrokeshire horsewoman Louisa Barton, a successful Standardbred driver on the Wales and Borders circuit, is one of British Harness Racing’s busiest mums.

She combines training a small team with driving at race meetings, motherhood and a full-time job.

“Basically, I get up early, train Ayr Ontario and then get my two boys ready for school and myself ready for work. I then take the boys to school and go straight on to work,” Louisa said.

“It’s busy and it takes a bit of juggling. Then we’ve got the after-school clubs and plenty to do with the boys as well.”

Despite the gruelling schedule, Louisa wouldn’t have it any other way!

“I do enjoy working with the horses. It’s always nice to see them getting fit and it’s exhilarating driving them too,” she said.

Married to Rob Barton, also a harness racing driver, the couple have two boys – Ben, 9, and Tommy, 6.

A qualified nurse, Louisa is a pre-assessment nurse at Withybush General Hospital, Haverfordwest. Louisa was born and bred into harness racing.

Her mother Sandra Weigel and husband Horst have been involved in the Wales and Border Counties Racing Association as both participants and officials for more than 30 years.

They prepare a successful team together on a 34 acre property at Llanddewi Velfrey with Horst having been a trainer-driver and Sandra a trainer in both racing codes – gallopers and pacers.

Sandra has been a director of STAGBI (Standardbred and Trotting Horse Association of Great Britain) since 2015, a committee member of the Wales and Border Counties Racing Association for 10 years including three years as chairman and is a member of the WBCRA handicapping panel.

Louisa has been in the gig in many of her family’s raceday successes. She started helping out with the horses when she was a 15-year-old.

“I started out exercising the horses and riding them along the road, then we headed over to the races and basically I started riding in the saddle and doing cart racing in the juniors when I was 15,” Louisa said.

Louisa landed her first winner in the juniors as a 16-year-old with Creative Jack at Brecon in mid-Wales.

“It was my first drive in a race and my first win as well. It was a joint win with another girl. He (Creative Jack) basically just took a hold and I just had to sit there and make sure he got around really,” she stated.

“My biggest win so far was in the Grade A at Caersws on a mare called Bon Bethan. She’s the best one we’ve ever had and the best one I’ve driven. In one year she won 16 races and I drove her in all of them. She was named Horse of the Year.

“She was bought as a yearling at the Builth Wells sales in 2000 and we’ve still got her now as a broodmare.”

In all, Bon Bethan won 73 races and Louisa was at the helm in 50 of them. Makemeamillionaire (37 wins), Ayr Ontario (34), No Mercy (18), Family Circle (trained by her husband Rob) and Creative Jack have been other good performers she partnered down through the years.

A three-time winner of the Wales and Border Counties lady driver’s premiership, Louisa estimates she has driven around 200 winners to date.

“Obviously winning is good and when you do get the win it makes it all worthwhile,” she said. “It’s also nice that even if they don’t win they run well.”

By Peter Wharton, for Harnesslink





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