IT'S the story of how a horse she hated is now her favourite and helps her win milkshakes - that is the partnership between McKayler Barnes and Kingston Shannon.
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On Friday night at Dubbo the Bathurst trainer-driver steered Kingston Shannon to his third consecutive win, the now six-year-old producing a brilliant sprint down the home straight.
It was a win which had Barnes smiling and singing the praises of Kingston Shannon, but she was not always so fond of the gelding.
When Barnes first came to Bathurst and worked for Peter Bullock, Kingston Shannon was one of the horses she drove. She was in the gig when the Blissfull Hall x Ark Princess gelding made his debut at Blayney in 2018.
A year later when Kingston Shannon won his first race it was Barnes who drove him, but he was far from a horse she enjoyed working with.
"Me and him really didn't get along when I was there [at Bullock's stable] and I didn't like him, I really did not like him at all," she said.
"He was good at racing, but I didn't like his personality.
"He was mostly just real naughty, he used to jump through fences."
Still, when Barnes decided to try her hand at training it was Kingston Shannon who she purchased. Now instead of disliking the gelding, she laughs and says "he's my favourite horse ever".
"I didn't want to do it [training] professionally or anything, I just wanted to do it as a hobby and see how I went, I didn't know how I'd go at it," she said.
"I've only got the one horse ... I'd like to get one more, but I'm not in any rush for it. If the right one pops up I'll do it, but I'm not going to go searching for one."
Since purchasing Kingston Shannon, Barnes has shown plenty of perseverance with him.
It's effort that has paid off as since resuming from a spell of a month he's won the Gerard Yeo Memorial in Dubbo, saluted at Parkes on New Year's Eve then took out Friday's Lochend Stud Pace (1,720 metres) in Dubbo.
"He broke his leg about two years ago, he broke his back leg in a race at Newcastle, so it took me awhile to get him back up and racing," Barnes revealed.
"I had him in for so long, I had him in from February last year until November before he needed a break. So like I gave him a two-week break in November and he's come back and just loves it."
On Friday night, Barnes settled $5 chance Kingston Shannon on the back of $1.85 favourite Roger That who led the way.
As the field approached the final bend and the Greg Rue trained and driven Scaramucci worked up on the outside to challenge for the lead, Barnes came off the pegs.
Though the race looked to be in the hands of Scaramucci as he hit the lead, in the closing metres Kingston Shannon flew home to snatch the honours by a half neck. It was the eighth win of his 40-start career and it earned not only prize money, but a milkshake.
"It was just that 100-200 metres, he just keeps going at the moment," Barnes said.
"With him and Scaramucci, he's done that three times now, so I kind of knew if I got a little bit closer I'd have him.
"Me and Greg are always having a milkshake on it because we're always coming first and second between the two of us. It's quite funny, he said 'Stuff you McKayler' after the line and he was laughing.
"He's got a pretty good little strike rate and he's a handy horse, that's all I wanted. He's been really good and be putting in some good runs."
That win not only left Barnes thinking about a Sofala Gold flavoured milkshake, but it was part of a good night overall for Bathurst district trainers with Ken Rue (Ideal Denny), Graham Betts (Pom Pay), Josh Turnbull (Lucky Lyla) and Mat Rue (Treacherous Kiss) all enjoying success as well.
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