By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: As the crow flies, the unincorporated community of Ravenscrag, Saskatchewan is located on Highway 614 east of the Alberta border. Latest statistics indicate fewer than 20 permanent residents still reside in the isolated area.
Horse racing’s Barroby brothers – Frank and Harold – have permanently put Ravenscrag on the map and it is being mentioned once again across the country with Frank’s latest honour as the 2019 recipient of the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award for his contribution to the industry as a jockey.
The brothers Barroby are both in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and the BC Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame primarily for their illustrious careers as trainers. According to Frank, though: “ I’m still a rider at heart and that’s what makes this latest recognition so special.”
He won Leading Jockey titles in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan before he arrived in BC and quickly established himself as the leading jockey in 1968, his first year at Hastings. “I rode for 17 years,” he says. “I competed against ‘Gomey’ for two seasons at Woodbine and he was as good an athlete as athletes come. “I thought a lot of the man.”
Frank and wife Lynn continue to work the six-acre Langley farm they’ve had for 35 years and he’s quick to point out he still has 11 horses training at Hastings.
That the Barroby brothers are so approachable and engaging probably has something to do with their upbringing in a household of 12 children in Ravenscrag. When Dianne Peacock was administering Lasix to horses with a history of bleeding as the track veterinary technician, she recalls Frank had “a horrible horse that would try to strike me” each time she approached it.
“Frank figured out that if he held the horse’s leg, like shaking a dog’s paw, the horse would stand still and behave himself,” she says. “Every time I gave the horse Lasix we went through this procedure and it was so funny people began taking pictures. Mr. Barroby is such a class act. This award couldn’t happen to a nicer person.”