JIM Barker will celebrate his 80th birthday in March.
And when he does, the harness racing industry will stand as one to applaud one of the true legends of the sport.
It will be a show of respect that he has earned over a decorated training and driving career that has now spanned more than 50 years.
His contribution to the sport during that time, particularly at his home track in Hamilton and his second “home away from home” track in Mt Gambier, will stand the test of time.
He loves the sport and the sport loves him.
The Hamilton Spectator caught up with the 2004 Gordon Rothacker Medal recipient at Mt Gambier’s Greenwald Paceway meeting on Tuesday night.
Barker has enjoyed a near lifelong passion of harness racing.
“It has been good to me … the sport,” he said after taking the reins behind Adams Express in the opening race.
“I’ve had a good run.”
That was a typically humble assessment of a distinguished career that shows no signs of waning.
He is a multiple Gold Cup winner at Mt Gambier.
“I haven’t missed too many meetings here (Greenwald Paceway) I think over the years,” he said.
“The odd one here and there … probably.
“It has been very good to me over here.
“I’ve had a lot of success here, so I keep coming back.”
Barker’s introduction to the sport was humble to say the least.
Full story in the Spectator on Thursday, January 9, 2014