SHE'S already in the exclusive club of drivers to have won multiple editions of the Kari JC Caffyn Plate, but come Saturday night at Menangle McKayler Barnes is chasing another piece of history.
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Barnes is hoping to become the first person to win the race for Indigenous drivers three times.
With Indigenous heritage on her Mother's side, Barnes is always eager to be involved with the Caffyn series. This year is her eighth participation.
She won the final for the first time in 2017 with $2.40 favourite Gotta Go Artelect and last year Barnes saluted in the prestigious final once more when driving $2.15 chance Pacman Hammer.
"It's always something you look forward to every year. Winning it is pretty special, especially last year winning it on Inter Dominion night, that was unreal, so I can't complain," Barnes chuckled.
"It is a very big program again this time, it's pretty cool to be able to drive on those kind of nights.
"They treat us like it's a Group 1 race pretty much, not many of the drivers in this get these sort of opportunities, so it gives them the opportunity to get their name out there as well.
"Indigenous drivers are coming out of the woodwork now, which is great. It's getting bigger and better and like Lleyton Green at the moment, he's just improving out of sight."
Though Barnes knew she'd be invited to drive in the final this year due to her 2021 success, she still won her qualifier at Parkes on October 14 aboard the Jake Davis trained Brooklyn Bandit.
Barnes guided the $3.40 chance to an all the way win - his first victory in three months - beating home $2.10 favourite Red Envy by three metres.
"I've never driven for Jake Davis before, so it was good to get a win for him," Barnes said.
"They said win, lose or draw I'd still get to go to the final because I won it last year, but yeah, it was definitely still good to go through on a win."
For the final drivers are randomly allocated to horses, with Barnes landing the job aboard the Jason Grimson trained Ideal Escape.
The American Ideal x Whos Escaped gelding is a last start winner at Menangle and that victory came in a career best 1:51.4 mile rate.
Though Ideal Escape will go from a tricky barrier six draw for the 1,609 metres final and form lines are not always the best guide for invitational driver events, Barnes feels the gelding does give her a genuine shot at a winning a third JC Caffyn Plate.
"I'm definitely not disappointed with that, it's pretty good, he's one trainer that everyone probably wants to drive for," Barnes laughed.
"I don't know much about the horse, I just know Jason has only had it for a couple of starts, but it's good pretty good since it's hit his stable.
"Look it's really hard to say how it will go, if the horses had their regular drivers you could do your form a bit, but it's really hard to do your form when all the drivers are different.
"I prefer to go to the front and just keep going, but you can't always do that. I think if the horse gets it's opportunity it will be a chance, it's going into the race with some really good form.
"I'd say it will be a good chance if I don't stuff up."
Saturday night will be the first time this season Barnes has driven at Menangle, the 27-year-old more focussed on training her two-horse team these days.
"I'd say the last time I drove at Menangle was when I won this last year," she said.
"I've trained a couple down there, but I've put someone else on so I haven't driven there since last year."
Saturday night's Kari JC Caffyn Plate starts at 6.52pm and forms part of a bumper program that features five Group 1 races.
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