DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH: Capturing the moment

Nicholas Oakes
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Frances Lund's photo from Gold Cup and Saucer night wins awards in Canada, United States

Saturday night, Aug. 23, 2015, is a night many people in Canadian harness racing will never forget and one Charlottetown photographer is no exception.

The Gold Cup and Saucer race was set for midnight with favourable conditions for every race at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park leading up to the card's finale.

The Island Hymn was sung with the Gold Cup and Saucer contenders slowly walking the track in pitch dark in anticipation of the spotlight being shone upon them and track announcer Vance Cameron giving them their Charlottetown introductions. But heavy precipitation played into the night's events while the pageantry was set to occur, as each horse took their turn in front of the crowd and under a belting rainstorm.

Photo enthusiast Frances Lund had her camera in hand watching the events and began snapping photos of the rain-soaked competitors.

"These are going to be really, really cool photos," Lund thought to herself as she became mesmerized by the rapidly deteriorating track conditions and almost blinding rain.

'Cool' turned out to be an understatement as her shot of Brad Forward parading Crombie A (nicknamed Downpour and printed in the Atlantic Post Calls) took a clean sweep of the North American harness racing awards.

The photo was a winner in the Standardbred Canada media excellence category at the O'Brien Awards in Ontario last month. On Saturday, Lund was in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to accept the George Smallsreed Award for feature photography at the Dan Patch awards honouring the best in U.S. Racing.

"They did not tell me I had to give a speech," Lund laughed. "We talked a lot about the Gold Cup and it blew them away that so many people came back for the race the next day."

Lund has been a longtime regular around the capital oval, working the James (Roach) MacGregor stable, and later with the Doug MacGregor stable.

"For years I worked with the horses," she said. "When I got to the point that I didn't have to look after them on race day I started bringing my camera."

Now, Lund is a fixture at the CDP, and sometimes the Summerside Raceway, taking photos of all the action, and not necessarily just on the track. It has now become a part of the post race ritual to check her Frankie L Facebook page the next day to see the moments and intricate details she captured from the previous days action.

"It shows people how much work and passion goes into these horses," Lund said. "I'm there, and it makes people happy. It shows the dedication. It shows the people in the grandstand the whole 'behind the scenes.' I've never had someone mad at taking their picture. There is one person who doesn't want their photo being posted on Facebook and I honour that. The first year or so people were like 'what are you doing?' Now people are not nearly as guarded with their reactions. Me and my camera have become a part of race day."

During her Toronto and Florida trips, Frances found herself frequently being asked about the Gold Cup and Saucer race and what occurred that rainy night.

"The fun thing is you can't talk about the photo without talking about the Gold Cup and Saucer. That's what I love about it. It is promoting P.E.I. racing."

She stresses the trips would not have been possible without the help of Island horsemen's groups and the generosity of Island native Tanya MacGregor Farber, who let her stay in her Florida home during the festivities.

"It's been a great month but I can't wait to get back racing and taking photos of my friends again."


Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at

Organizations: North American

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Charlottetown Driving Park, Canada United States Ontario Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Florida Iceland Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Horse Fan
    March 11, 2016 - 11:41

    Fran is an extraordinary photographer and a great asset to Island racing. I am so very pleased to see her recieve the recognition of which she is so deserving. Congratulations, Fran. Keep up the great work. I visit your FB regularly and you keep us all smiling!

  • AD
    March 11, 2016 - 05:36

    This a nice human interest feature - it is people like Ms Lund who unselfishly donate their time and talent that allow a industry like this to stay alive. Cheers on your awards!