Award recognises Gayle Barkla's lengthy career

Tim Barton
20 December 2019

From left: Mark Fraser-Campin, Derek Collett, Bernard Saundry, Peggy Eriksen, Gayle Barkla, Gary Barkla, Mary McDougall, Faye Bax, Marty Burns and Bruce Harvey at the back.


Gayle Barkla’s lengthy contribution to the Cambridge Jockey Club was recognised this week.

Barkla, who is stepping down from her role as the Cambridge Jockey Club chief executive, was presented with a New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Service Award by NZTR chief executive Bernard Saundry on Thursday.

Barkla has had a 32-year career with the club, beginning in a part-time role and has been full time since 1996. She was the office manager before taking responsibility for the wider organisation and has had a 20-year stint as chief executive.

She has overseen the growth of the Cambridge training centre, which had 300 in work when Barkla joined the staff but is now the biggest training centre in Australasia.

There is normally around 1100 horses in work at Cambridge at any given time, with the tally rising to around 1200 in the spring. Three of the top five stables on the trainers’ premiership are based at Cambridge.

Horses trained at Cambridge won 494 races last term and 503 the previous season and are major contributors to the thoroughbred industry, accounting for almost 17 per cent – 4504 – of the thoroughbred starts in New Zealand last term.

Barkla has played a significant role in providing an attractive environment for the Cambridge-based trainers and project managed the building of new stable blocks that helped attract the likes of Murray Baker, Stephen Marsh and Roger James to Cambridge.

Barkla’s skills have also been recognised outside the racing industry and she was named administrator of the year at the Waikato Regional Sports Awards in 2011.

She is threatening to throw her watch away when she leaves her role and is looking forward to spending more time with family, including her grandchild.

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