Vale Ron Barron
By Jonny Turner
Southland harness racing lost a much-respected horseman and one of its greatest contributors with the passing of successful trainer Ron Barron.
The father of prominent trainers Clark, Ken and Tony Barron enjoyed a stellar career that began shortly before he produced his first winner at Gore in 1979.
1997 Southland harness horse of the year Incredible Fella and Makarewa Sun were among the best horses to wear Ron Barron’s colours.
Barron won 133 races in his own right and another 38 in partnership with son Tony, who credited his father’s success as a trainer to his kind and patient handling of horses.
“He was very kind with them – a lot of the good trainers are,” Tony said.
“He just loved the horses and loved the industry.”
Barron’s impact on harness racing in Southland stretched well beyond his skill with a horse.
Formerly based at Makarewa, Barron made a large contribution to the sport as an administrator, most notably on the Harness Racing New Zealand executive and also through the Invercargill Harness Racing Club and the New Zealand Standardbred Breeders Association.
Outside of harness racing, Barron worked in the administration of the Alliance Freezing Works at Makarewa, as general manager.
Through all of those contributions, it was clear Barron had the respect of those he worked alongside.
“He enjoyed people’s company – he was very well respected, whether it was at the freezing works or in harness racing,” Tony said.
“People who hadn’t seen him for 30 years would always be asking after him, that is the kind of impact he made on people.”
“He had their respect.”
Barron’s legacy in harness racing continues through the success of his sons as trainers and drivers, who have trained more than 1300 winners and driven more than 2000 between them.
Clark Barron credited his father’s measured approach that made him such a successful mentor and horseman while describing him as someone who had an eye towards the future.
“He was very measured in everything he did.”
“He was a man of few words but when he said something you listened.”
Following his retirement from training in 2012, Barron enjoyed the success of his three sons and his granddaughter, Ellie Barron.
“He got a lot of enjoyment out of the horses, latterly with all of us (brothers) but more importantly when Ellie came along,” Clark said.
“He was proud of all of his grandkids and his two great-grandkids.”
Southland Harness Racing general manager Jason Broad had a 35-year association with Barron through the administration of the sport.
On behalf of both Southern Harness Racing and the wider Southland industry, Broad paid tribute to Barron for his enormous contribution.
“I knew Ron for over 35 years and he was a pleasant and approachable man whose contribution to the industry was widespread both locally and nationally.”
“His training skill was shown through some of the great horses he trained, and those skills have certainly been passed down to his three sons who have carried on that Barron dynasty of harness racing.”
Barron, who was farewelled at a private service last week, is survived by his wife Christabel.