MCKAYLER Barnes has added to her great season from the driver’s seat with victory on Stitched Up in Wednesday night’s Burnt Blades Horse Help Pace (1730 metres) at Bathurst Paceway.
Stitched Up ($2.30 favourite), trained by Dennis Picker, became Barnes’ 21st winner of the season after the gelding produced a gritty win from the death seat.
The Courage Under Fire five-year-old had to hold off a furious finish from outside shot Tulhurst Cash ($35.20) to take the spoils.
“The horse went terrific. Where I sat with him, I didn’t expect to be there … [but] I just let him be comfortable,” Barnes said.
“I’ve only had two drives for Dennis and one was the Lady Drivers [Invitational] heat. Dennis is really nice and it’s good to drive for him.”
Stitched Up tracked up Our Little Digger ($4.50) in an early three-wide shuffle to sit outside the Bernie Hewitt-trained chance at the head of the field.
Inside starter Recipe For Dreaming ($6.90) was happy to travel behind Our Little Digger, putting the race’s three best-backed hopes out in front.
There was barely a nose between Our Little Digger and Stitched Up across the back during the final lap.
On the turn for home the leaders threatened to break away but Recipe For Dreaming wasn’t going away in a hurry, sticking close and eyeing off a possible sprint lane dive.
Instead, Recipe For Dreaming peeled wide on the dash for home and Waikari Fire loomed down the inside.
Our Little Digger simply ran out of puff and Stitched Up took the lead with 200m to run.
No-one was going to match Bullock’s contender in the closing stages but Nathan Hurst’s Tulhurst Cash somehow found a path through the middle of the field to pinch second place by a nose.
Recipe For Dreaming had to settle for third.
The winning mile rate was 1:55.8, just a tenth outside of Stitched Up’s career best mark. Wednesday’s win was Stitched Up’s sixth career victory.
Barnes finished with a winning double after also saluting with Jedda Shannon.