By Duane Ranger
Unwanted cast-off pacer, Pacific Drums’ 14th start in August 2017 could easily have been his last.
At that stage of his career the son of Somebeachsomewhere was on the ‘thanks for coming’ list. He had just ended his 2-year-old season as a giveaway who had placed a couple of times.
Fast forward 20 months and 40 starts, and the brown gelding is now heading out of State to qualify for the NSW Breeders Challenge Final at Tabcorp Park Menangle on June 30 - where he will compete against the best pacing 4yo colts and geldings.
Pacific Drums will head to the June 22 heats as an 11-race winner, after scoring as a warm $1.60 favourite at Albion Park last Tuesday. He’s also placed 23 times and banked $64,010 in stakes. That 1:53 mile rate win last week was his quickest yet.
"The penny has finally dropped. If not, almost. He’s developing into a real nice racehorse. Every time he steps out onto the track now he seems to take it all in and be better for it," said driver Brendan Barnes.
Barnes and his partner Elin Olsson were offered Pacific Drums when they both worked for the McDowell family in New South Wales.
"Colin (McDowell) was wanting to focus on his new team of nice Kiwi horses and there wasn’t enough room for Pacific Drums in his barn. We can’t thank the McDowells enough for offering the horse to us.
“We always knew him as a hot headed, goofy horse, but took him anyway. If Elin and I didn't do that I think he would have been a hack and never seen the racetrack as a 3-year-old.
"Elin trained him in his first race for us a couple of months later at Penrith (October 2017) and he won there first-up. In the end it's been a kind gesture by the McDowells and we now want to do the best by the horse," 22-year-old Barnes said.
Barnes said Pacific Drums was now a far cry from the naive 2-year-old who bolted on him on debut at Menangle back in January 2017.
“He’s improving with every race and I think the trip away against some real guns like Ignatius will do him the world of good. It should teach him to follow good speed and I’m hoping it will be the making of him.
“I believe he has the potential to become a really good Free-For-Aller one day,” Barnes said.
Barnes is based at Jack Butler’s Logan Village stable. Pacific Drums is trained under Butler’s name, but Barnes does most of the work and driving behind him.
“I’ve known him since day one really. I was there when he was broken in, and it’s quite pleasing to see how far he’s come in one and a bit seasons since he’s been with us.
“He did feel a bit flat after his win last week and he probably won’t line up tomorrow (Tuesday) at Albion Park. I think I’ll give him a couple of weeks off and then bring him back in readiness for the Group One race down south,” said Barnes.