Ron Barron's days as a harness racing trainer are numbered as he will not renew his licence and step down at the end of this month.
The much-respected 77-year-old industry stake holder and administrator, formerly of Makarewa and now of Invercargill, will resign himself to helping his trainer sons Clark and Tony if they need him at busy times.
The former Invercargill Trotting Club president, Bowls Southland president for two years (1969-70) and manager of the Makarewa meat works (1986-1988) can look back on a respectable career as a licence holder. He was also elected to the executive of Harness Racing New Zealand as the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders' Association's representative for six years.
He and his wife Christobel can also share many family highlights with their distinguished harness racing sons, Clark, Ken and Tony who all have trade apprenticeships behind them.
The brothers have often told the Southland Times that their backgrounds as carpenters, motor mechanics and panel beaters had given them a sense of security in case harness racing hit problems. Ken was stable foreman for three years to multiple premiership winning trainer John Lischner, now retired in Wanaka.
The involvement of family participants, generation after generation, knows no limits in Southland. There would be no better examples than the Barron men.
Clark and Ken have between them driven the winners of more than 1900 races. Both boast tallies in the 900s. Clark is Southland's most successful ever driver ahead of former leader the late Henry Skinner who bowed out with 732.
Former Southlander Robert Cameron, retired in Yaldhurst, is a member of the 1000 club but many of his wins were posted in Canterbury.
Ron and his wife claimed that two of their sons, Clark and Ken both driving in a New Zealand Cup presented them with further cause to be proud of them sons. Clark drove Prince Rashad and Ken reined Bradshaw.
All three brothers gained winning drives at an Invercargill meeting in 1991. It would have been hard to top that feat for a family highlight, he said.
Ron and Ted Mortimer cherished success with the fine pacer Incredible Fella who won nine races and was sold to Australia.
The smart trotter Makarewa Sun, raced with Richie McDonald, was later raced successfully in a 50-50 arrangement with trainer Darren Hancock in New South Wales.
Ron became a member of the Makarewa Syndicate with Jim McNeill, Norman Bennett, Alistair Blue and Graeme McKissock for a brief period. He then joined the established Setarip (Pirates backwards) syndicate, in the late 1990s, the oldest in New Zealand and still going strongly after 43 years in existence.
His first success as a trainer was gained as an amateur trainer with Miss Diamond in 1972.
Incidentally, three Setarip originals, Mortimer, Joe Wilson and Clark Neil are still alive.
His widespread practical involvement with harness racing's expansion was also mirrored by his 19 year involvement with the Makarewa Town and Country Club Syndicate. He has trained for the group for most of the 20 years, firstly in partnership with his son Tony.
He attained professional training status when son Clark completed his carpentry apprenticeship in 1981. He held an amateur licence for the previous nine years.
His commitment to the popular Te Anau Street Racing concept has also reflected his love of the industry and desire to take it to the wider community.
Ron Barron can treasure his record as patriarch of one of Southland's foremost industry families and the distinguished service he has rendered the multi-million movement in the province.
- © Fairfax NZ News