TRIUMPH FROM TRAGEDY
By Steve Spinks and Brad Greenshields email@example.com ONLY days after attending his former apprentice's funeral, Coffs Harbour trainer Brett Bellamy claimed two winners at the Men of League Ballina Jockey Club race meeting on Saturday.
Bellamy's former apprentice, Daniel Baker, died as a result of injuries from a fall while riding at Grafton two weeks ago.
Bellamy claimed the Open Handicap, the Men of League Cup (1250m), with Frisco's Harem while his five-year-old mare Shandi Belle won the John Morgan Memorial Handicap (1000m).
Both winners were ridden by Bellamy's new apprentice, Jamie Quinnell.
Quinnell, who was apprenticed to his father Phil at Ballina, moved to Bellamy's stable only two weeks ago.
Bellamy didn't attend the Ballina meeting because he had a number of runners in Brisbane.
Baker's memorial service was held at the Coffs Harbour Racing Club last Thursday.
While the grief of losing someone so young, gifted and popular was palpable throughout the auditorium, there were many fine memories of a young man who had a passion for horses and endeared himself to everyone he met.
Trainers Bellamy and Gordon Yorke and fellow jockey Raymond Spokes spoke warmly of a larrikin mate who was always on the lookout for some fun yet ensured he was always respectful to those around him and always willing to listen so he could learn more about the difficult career path he had chosen.
Baker, who had only recently gained his full riding licence after a successful stint as an apprentice, decided that he was going to become a jockey after attending his first race meeting at the age of eight.
Nothing could dissuade 'Spider' from his dream, and his passion for horses grew under the caring and watchful eye of mother and trainer, Debbie Baker.
Always supported by those close to him, in particular his partner Linda and his mother, Baker was starting to become the jockey that a man of his natural talents should be.
After Baker's closest friends acted as pall bearers, the hearse was driven down the straight so the young jockey could make one final run past the finishing post.
It was a sight that racing people should have seen so many more times in the years to come, but unfortunately won't.