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The greatest horseman to ever come from Charlottetown was back on his home turf Saturday evening for the P.E.I. Standard Horse Owners awards banquet.
Wally Hennessey was the guest speaker at the sold-out event making the trek from his now home state of Florida for the annual awards gala. The double hall of famer was also presented with the prestigious Kentucky of Canada award for his world-class career.
Sock It Away was named horse of the year by the association after the pacer put together a spectacular season while undefeated in stakes competition for owner Reg MacPherson of Stratford and trainer Kevin MacLean.
Jeff Lilley of Miltonvale Park was honoured as horseperson of the year in a presentation by association president Dr. Colleen Dickie. Lilley campaigned Bettim Jackie last season as she set a record of more than $100,000 in seasonal earnings, the first Maritime bred to accomplish the feat as a three-year-old.
David and Doug Neill of Charlottetown received the Arnold Weeks memorial award, which was established to honour those who truly display great kindness and generosity to fellow horsemen. The Neill brothers are fixtures on Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park backstretch, always willing to help out any horseperson.
Active horseman of the year was presented to John Clarey of Montague, while Dale and Ronnie Rennie of Alma were honoured as the Standardbred Canada owner of the year. Charlene Cypher of Miltonvale Park was honoured as horsewoman of the year.
Austin Sorrie duplicated his rookie driver award from the Prince County Horsemen’s Club banquet the week before as he also garnered the honour for Charlottetown. Sorrie was not in attendance as he has been racing the Ontario circuit for the winter months.
Marc Campbell of Winsloe topped all trainers and drivers in 2018 and was presented with awards for each accomplishment. Len (Barney) McGuigan was honoured as leading percentage driver with more than 75 starts, while Gilles Barrieau’s unbelievable 2018 season from his own stable was honoured with the award for leading percentage trainers with between 25-75 starts.
Ryan Wilkie of Stratford was named male groom of the year while female groom of the year was given to Sophie Hughes.
Personable 13-year-old veteran pacer Caughtfoolinaround was named the fan favorite with the award being presented to owner Maggie McCarthy of Murray River and trainer Roy Reynolds.
Ten Mile Beach is a new addition to Island racing for Cape Breton native and current Charlottetown resident Brett Leblanc. The four-year-old Indiana-bred son of Net Ten Eom has two lifetime victories and $15,000 in earnings. He last raced on the Ontario circuit in a $7,000 claiming event at Western Fair Raceway in London.
Across The Continent
A Gold Cup and Saucer hopeful made his 2019 debut a winning one Sunday evening at Pompano Park. Casimir Richie P was a winner in the open pace in 1:51.2 with Hennessey in the bike for trainer Dr. Ian Moore, a native of Summerside. The four-year-old Astronomical pacer quietly put together a $100,000 season as a sophomore in 2018 in Ontario for Moore and co-owner Michael Goldberg of Toronto.
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.