By Tony Megahey
Karen Owen - Taree’s former Australian equestrian rider, Sydney Mounted Police officer, and race trainer and breeder - can’t be accompanied by her racing soul mate, but she’ll still have a select welcoming team when her outsider Burn’m ($51 on TAB fixed odds) contests a TAB $75,000 Highway on another spectacular day of Group racing at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
“My husband Adrian is a vet and trainer; he originally worked for Bart and Anthony Cummings, but we’ve got mares foaling so he has to stay home with them,” explained the accomplished equine all-rounder.
“Our son Damien rides work for Anthony at Randwick and this gelding’s owners live in Sydney, so it’ll be nice to catch up,” enthused Karen who rides her own work.
Adrian manages, races and breeds a substantial team of equestrian and racehorses in the picturesque Manning Valley.
Burn’m, a five-year-old (Bernadini-Crash’m) gelding, joined the Owen stables after two maiden failures for Bjorn Baker.
He’s into a Class 3, 1600m Highway on another booming Group day at headquarters after finally “clicking” with a strong Port Macquarie BM 58, 1506m win at $26.
“Adrian and I have finally got him right - been really tricky to get everything in order since we got him,” Karen explained in her fourth training season.
“But he’s so lightly raced as a five-year-old (eight starts). Now he’s found some form and confidence we think he can be competitive in town.
“He is up in grade, but drops to the limit after winning with 56kg and we’re confident he’ll run the ‘mile’. “
"He had been disappointing when we originally got him but realistically the distances were probably too short. And we hadn’t got him right until his last couple of runs.
“The way he won at “Port’ is worth a try in town for the prizemoney. His half-sister, Cheat’m ran a good fourth for us in a Highway down there last season and she’s won four races for the same owners, the Leopolds.”
Burn’m carries 53kg for Jay Ford as the series revert to the popular “mile”. The dedication to horses doesn’t come any deeper than with Karen and her family.
“Lifetime passions for us as Adrian and I taught all the kids to ride and they understood horses at an early age.
“Madeline rides work for the Wilkes stable up here, she’s keen to be apprenticed and a race rider. I wasn’t that keen but I couldn’t talk her out of it,” Karen chuckled.
“Damien is working for Anthony and that pays his rent while he’s at Uni in Sydney, studying Science and Education. And our youngest Callum is a good rider too.
"Adrian originally worked for Bart and Anthony way back as a raceday vet at the city meetings and then took out a training licence.
“So the horses are our lives. I love to ride work and still compete at the country equestrians.
“Way back I did make the shortlist for the Sydney Olympics. I worked in the Mounted Police, based at Redfern, on duty at Randwick races plenty of times.
“You know so many performed racehorses went on to become Police horses; Melbourne Cup winners like Arwon when I was there. And the big race winners retired to be ideal clerk of the course horses.”
On Saturday, in a capacity field prelude to multiple Group events, Burn’m is at lengthy odds against five last-start winners including recent TAB Highway winners, But I Know ($6.50) and Black Wand ($.40 favourite), also an Eagle Farm winner, and Emanuela ($5) off an impressive Scone double.