• Racing Tips
    Industry mourns loss of ‘quietly spoken gentleman’ Industry mourns loss of ‘quietly spoken gentleman’

    JUSTAFLICKA scoring with Brian Powell in the cart

    NIGBHT trots at the Horsham Showgrounds in the 1960’s was simply spectacular and one of the stars of the show was the mighty mare... Industry mourns loss of ‘quietly spoken gentleman’

    NIGBHT trots at the Horsham Showgrounds in the 1960’s was simply spectacular and one of the stars of the show was the mighty mare Justaflicka for owner-trainer Bob Baker and his son-in-law, driver Brian Powell.

    Brian passed away recently but the quietly spoken Areegra farmer has left plenty of fond memories with all those who were fortunate enough to have crossed his path.

    Powell’s partnership with Baker and the three-year-old filly Justaflicka commenced in 1960 with eight straight wins on Western District tracks.

    After a spell, the daughter of Noble Scot and Baker’s mare Marjwon, returned to win as a four-year-old and continued to post another seven wins from her next eight starts up until 1962.

    Baker and Powell then decided to give Justaflicka the opportunity to win in Melbourne. First-up at the Showgrounds, she galloped at the start but still put in a phenomenal effort without winning.

    She atoned at her next appearance with a track record and went on to win another 11 including three in town.

    Outed after an injury at the Horsham trials, Justaflicka eventually returned to racing with a first-up victory at Ballarat but shortly after was retired to stud, before finally living out her days at Powell’s Areegra property.

    In the mid-80s, Brian was back pottering around with the horses and decided to give one of Justaflicka’s grandsons – out of an un-raced Minuteman mare – a try.

    The big raw gelding gave Brian more headaches than joy during the education process but Movin Free eventually made it to the racetrack after qualifying as a three-year-old at Minyip.

    However, the big fella played up badly at his first three starts. “Talk about trying my patience,” said Powell.

    More time and effort went into Powell’s pacer before he decided to behave at a Birchip restricted meeting in February 1988 and gave Brian the joy that comes to all winning owner/trainer/drivers no matter the size of the purse.

    Up to his old tricks again for a few more outings, Movin Free put it all together at Birchip in late May and Brian was once again delighted to be in the winner’s circle.

    Movin Free then strung together a few minor placings on the TAB circuit but lost his zest for racing and was retired at the end of the ’89 season.

    Brian was a highly regarded, competent track steward for the Wimmera Trotting Club, an unassuming volunteer, always with a smile and up for a chat.

    He was also a committee member, then president of the Minyip Light Harness Club during the time it conducted meetings at Minyip, Horsham and Stawell.

    A real highlight of the club’s annual dinner at the Commercial Hotel was President Brian’s report of the season’s activities – delivered as a rollicking ballad with keyboard accompaniment and lots of laughs from all those present.

    Harness Racing Victoria sends sincere condolences and thoughts to his family and friends.

    • JOHN PECK and TONY LOGAN

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