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Kirista Rabain achieves impressive treble during New Year’s Day harness racing

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Kirista Rabain racing with mare, Overextended on New Year’s Day. (Photograph supplied).
Kirista Rabain racing with mare, Overextended on New Year’s Day. (Photograph supplied).

Kirista Rabain exceeded her expectations by far after achieving a remarkable treble during New Year’s Day harness racing at the Bermuda Equestrian Centre.

The woman driver lowered her fastest time on three occasions and capped a memorable day by blazing to the season’s fastest time of 1:02.1 at the helm of Simsfield Stables’s gelding, Simsfield Hardtimes, competing in the Free for All.

“It certainly was not a planned time. I haven’t raced Free For All in several years and didn’t see any plans to be racing there anytime soon,” Rabain told The Royal Gazette.

“It’s always the waiting time between coming in from your race and waiting to hear the time that you know the time must have been impressive or your getting setback.”

Rabain and Simsfield Hardtimes posted the season’s fastest time racing on the rail on the way to victory in the second and final heat of a two-horse showdown with rival gelding War Machine.

“Aaron (owner/trainer Aaron Sims) said he comes out hot and I may have to keep him a little awake, but there was no need for that,” Rabain said. “He was pushing the start car so hard that he started to overtake it.

“Then we hit that first turn and I was not expecting to be sliding across the track. That’s when I knew we at least had an amazing start.

“In the corners I saw that Tyler (Lopes) was still a few lengths off, but I didn’t think much of it.

“Hardtimes really gave an honest drive; every time I asked more he gave more. He feels so smooth you don’t realise just how fast your really going. He was a fun drive.”

The win completed a clean sweep of victories in the two heats for Rabain and Simsfield Hardtimes having also won the opening heat from the two-hold position.

“I said keep him alert, pull him out and see what he can do,” Sims said. “She did and came around War Machine and edged him out at the wire in the same time in 1:03 flat.”

The time equalled the season’s previous fastest time, which Sims’s pony held a share of along with War Machine plus mare and overall track record holder Google Me, heading into the New Year’s Day event.

“Kirista did a really good job; I was really impressed with her,” Sims added.

“Kirista used to race him as a two-year -old. He’s nine now so she hasn’t raced him in seven years.

“They seem to get along good and hopefully some more things come out of him and he can drop the times down even more.”

Rabain was a last-minute replacement for experienced driver Joseph Vieira.

“Aaron calls me and said “hey, you feeling brave?” So I knew I had Hardtimes to drive at that point,“ she said.

Rabain eclipsed her fastest time for the first time on the day with Raynor Family’s stallion, Special Gold, after crossing the wire in 1:03.1 also competing in the Free for All before lowering it twice with Simsfield Hardtimes.

“When the day started I had only planned to race my mare, Overextended,” she added.

“Then we get to the track and Lee Raynor (Special Gold) and Antwan Edwards (Special Tux) asked for me to drive as well being as Darico (Clarke) couldn’t make it. Really changed the pace for the day, but I was excitedly looking forward to the additional six heats.”

Rabain was among several women drivers achieving victories on the day, which included Andrea Westerfield, Candyce Martins, Catrina Stephens and Kamali Tucker.

Offering her thoughts on the growing number of women drivers in the sport, Rabain said: “I’m excited to see it. I think the females; we have can be very versatile with the types of horses (we) drive, as long as they are open to learning and trying new things.”

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Published January 04, 2022 at 7:53 am (Updated January 04, 2022 at 7:53 am)

Kirista Rabain achieves impressive treble during New Year’s Day harness racing

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