The very best in drivers in Canadian harness racing will face off in a battle of skill Tuesday night in the National Driving Championship at Red Shores at The Charlottetown Driving Park.
Marc Campbell and Ryan Ellis will carry the hopes of Atlantic Canada in the eight-race competition. Jody Jamieson and Billy Davis Jr., will represent Ontario, with Brandon Campbell and Jim Marino from Western Canada and Guy Gagnon and Sylvain Lacaille from Quebec.
Each driver will drive from every post position once over the eight races, but there is a new twist this year. The competitors will be able to pick their horses in a draft being held today, with a preliminary draw to see which driver picks in which order. That order will reverse each round. The horses and post positions were drawn Thursday. Drivers can select any of the 64 horses in the eight but once a post position is selected, it is no longer available for that driver to select.
The draft format creates another element to the competition and definitely gives some advantage to Campbell and Ellis, who know the horses far better than the other six drivers. The competition will take place over races 3 through 10 with regular overnight races in races 1 and 2 and the top horses in Atlantic Canadian racing in races 11 and 12 in the $25,000 Founder’s Cup in Race 11 and the $5,000 Builder’s Cup in Race 12.
Gold Cup and Saucer runner-up Wazzup Wazzup headlines the Founder’s Cup from Post 6 for driver Marc Campbell, trainer Corey Johnson and owner Rolling Hills Racing Stable of Ontario. The pacer was a nosed-out second in 1:50.4 in last week’s $75,000 Sobey’s Gold Cup and Saucer final and the connections decided to stick around for another crack at a solid purse.
The race also features a couple Ontario shippers who came to race in the Gold Cup and Saucer series but failed to make the final. James (Roach) MacGregor winner Up The Credit has Post 3 with Jody Jamieson in the bike while Mach Wheel leaves from Post 7 for new trainer-driver Darren Crowe. Shane Arsenault brought Mach Wheel to P.E.I., but he was sold to new connections after the MacGregor race.
All Turain has the rail in the event for driver Mike Stevenson and trainer Wade Sorrie after a sharp 1:54.2 qualifier Wednesday night in Summerside.
Also in the field are Ultimate Luck (Terry Gallant), D Gs Camme (Ron Matheson) and Astor (Jason Hughes).
The Atlantic aged pacing mares series hits Exhibition Park Raceway in Saint John, N.B., Saturday afternoon with a field of eight competing for a $5,350 pot.
Stayoutofmyaffair is the favourite for trainer-driver Hughes and owner Robi Hughes of Stratford. Her main challenges will come from the Jackie Matheson trained duo of General Luckypercy (Ron Matheson) and For All We Know (Gilles Barrieau).
Also in the field are Ramblinglily (Alan Jones), Rose Valley (Mike Campbell), Andro Madi (Mark Haig), Dirt Track Momma (Dale Spence) and Veronicavermillion (Neil Bambrick).
Nicholas Oakes’ column appears in
The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.