Kenny Baynes was always destined for a life of harness racing. His father Colin is a Southland legend of the sport, and right from day one Kenneth Charles Baynes was set to follow the family tradition—whether he liked it or not. “Dad named me Charles after one of his top stallions— a U Scott bay called Young Charles. So you could definitely say I’ve had harness racing in my blood since the day I was born,” Baynes said. Baynes’s 93-year-old father has been working and breeding pacers and trotters for more than half a century. He was a prolific trainer, driver, and breeder of quality horses like 1991 New Zealand Cup runner-up Clancy, and 23-win trotter of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Game Paul. When Baynes didn’t renew his licence this season after 25 years training with Robin Swain (154 winners and $1.25 millionplus155 training wins on his own account) up stepped Baynes (Kenny) and his sister-in-law Penny (Baynes). That’s when both Baynes Racing Ltd and Baynes Bloodstock Ltd were born. “We bought all of Dad’s mares, the lot. About 35 race horses in total. Robin still trains our Southland team and we have also got horses with Tony Stratford at Macca Lodge and Derek Balle at Pukekohe. Ken McRae at Waimumu has had a horse in his barn for me for many years. Wattie was the best performer. He won the Wairio Cup.
“But Derek has the last horse that Dad will ever own. That’s two-win trotter Cool Cobber Son. He’s up there because he goes really well that way around. Derek’s wife Raelene also has a half share in him with Dad,” Baynes said. A relation, Cool Cobber, who was also trained by Balle, this year provided Baynes with his career highlight. “I’ll never forget the night he beat Master Lavros in a $20,000 trot on Auckland Cup night. Sure having my first starter in a big race like the Rowe Cup (4th) and then the Dominion (14th) was great that night at Alexandra Park. [the memory] will stay with me for a while. “I’m hoping he will win some big races at Alexandra Park this season,” Baynes said. Both Cool Cobber and Cool Son are related to the top 1970s and early 1980s pacer (trotter) Cool Cat (2nd in Rowe cup), who won 10 races and $30,923. “Dad’s trotting breed goes back 10 winning generations which is bloody amazing. It also descends back and beyond to one of his best performed mares of the 1960s—Flying Maiden, who won the prestigious Audrey Dean Handicap at Addington.” Baynes Racing Ltd produced its first winner at Alexandra Park (with their first starter) when the Colin Baynes-bred Knapdale Girl scored for trainer Balle and driver David Butcher on October 3. It was Butcher’s first win back after being side-lined with a pectoral injury for eight months.
“Cool Son winning at the same meeting was an amazing night,” Baynes said. Knapdale Girl is a full brother to Cool Son. She was bought back by Baynes Racing Ltd from renowned Australian owners, Merv and Meg Butterworth, as a breeding proposition. “She’s a lovely mare and is now being set for a broodmare career,” Baynes said. The Sundon mare raced in Australia for three seasons where she won five of her 32 starts. Now Baynes, who turns 49 on Christmas Eve, lives at Chatton (near Gore). He has been a sheep all his life and latterly a dairy farmer. Harness racing has always been a passion but this season he’s gone in boots ‘n all. “All up I think I have got 22 potential racehorses, 20 broodmares, and 11 weanlings—many with Penny. “I’ve always loved the sport and even though I will always live in Dad’s big shadow, I’d love to breed and own a Group One horse. That’s the dream for now. “Even though we have a lot of horses, I’ll still go to the Sales. It also makes sense to keep sending horses to Auckland, especially the way the stakes are up there. And I hear they will get better,” said Baynes. Engaged to Joelle Calder, who also has a training licence, Baynes was born in Gore and attended Gore High School. He is also vice president of the Gore Harness Racing Club and is president of the workouts committee. He can also be seen doing ‘the business’ on the track come Gore race-day. “I also look after the Gore track and in charge of its maintenance and race-day grooming, so I’m usually the one out in the middle doing the hard yards on race-day,” the multitalented Baynes joked. Asked if he had any promising young horses on the verge of both starting and winning, Baynes instantly referred to Changeover two-year-old filly, Envious. “She qualified at Young Quinn Raceway on November 26 a second under time. Tony (Stratford) quite likes her and thinks she might turn into a nice filly.” He also mentioned a three-year-old Pegasus Spur filly out of Frances Jay Bee. “She’s a nice filly. Jo is training called ‘One Up Kenny’. No I didn’t name her either! She is showing a bit of promise. “We’ve also got some potentially nice colts by Mach Three and Christian Cullen coming through,” Baynes said. He said his new business would breed four trotting mares this season including the late Springbank Richard’s dam‘It’s a Whiz. “We love being guests of the Auckland Trotting Club who look after us so well when we make the journey north. We have developed many new friends including the Balle family. Derek and Steve Clarke are a tremendous training combination with Cool Cobber thriving on regular beach work.” Going into the Group One Trotting events over the summer Cool Cobber had won nine of his 48 starts and placed in 10 others for $98,407 in stakes. He has raced 12 times for Balle two wins and seven placings since Balle got him in January 2014. Baynes Racing Ltd has also taken over the former racing colours of C.H. Baynes as Colin is now in a rest home.
By Duane Ranger