World Driving Championship Field Complete
The field of 11 harness racing drivers has now been confirmed for the 2017 World Driving Championship, to be hosted by Standardbred Canada this August.
Brandon Campbell of Calgary, Alberta, is Canada’s representative in the World Driving Championship (WDC) and earned his spot in the international competition by winning the 2016 National Driving Championship at The Raceway at the Western Fair District in London, Ontario last October.
Dexter Dunn of New Zealand is the defending champion of the WDC following his victory in the 2015 WDC hosted in Australia. New Zealand, who also has the opportunity to send a second driver because they have the defending champion, has named Mark Purdon as their other competitor. Dunn will wear the official colours of the International Trotting Association as the defending champion.
Last summer the European Driving Championship was held to determine their six drivers for the 2017 WDC. The event was won by Finland’s Mika Forss with Björn Goop finishing in second and The Netherlands’ Rick Ebbinge completing the top three.
Eirik Høitomt from Norway, Austria’s Gerhard Mayr and Germany’s Michael Nimczyk also qualified.
Recently Ebbinge advised that he was unable to take part in the WDC so an offer was extended to Rik Depuydt of Belgium, who confirmed his participation late last week.
Here is the complete list of drivers and the countries that they represent:
Australia - Shane Graham
Austria - Gerhard Mayr
Belgium - Rik Depuydt
Canada - Brandon Campbell
Finland - Mika Forss
Germany - Michael Nimczyk
New Zealand - Dexter Dunn
New Zealand - Mark Purdon
Norway - Eirik Høitomt
Sweden - Björn Goop
United States - Marcus Miller
The 22-race competition takes place at five different racetracks in four different provinces. Drivers earn points based on their finishing position and the top point earner at the end of the 22 races will be declared the 2017 World Driving Champion and win $25,000 in prize money.
The first leg kicks off at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino in Balzac, Alberta on Saturday, August 12.
Following the first leg in Alberta, the drivers will then head to Ontario for the next two legs. Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville will host the second leg on Monday, August 14, and that will be followed by the third leg at Georgian Downs in Innisfil on August 15.
The action then moves to Trois-Rivières, Quebec on Wednesday, August 16, where Hippodrome 3R will host the fourth leg of the WDC before the drivers head to Prince Edward Island and Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park for the fifth and final leg of the Championship on Friday, August 18, one of the major highlights of Old Home Week.
This event, along with the 25th anniversary edition of the World Trotting Conference, hosted in Charlottetown, PEI, are both held every two years and will coincide with the 250th Anniversary of horse racing in Canada, and Canada 150 celebrations.
Canadians have won the WDC on four occasions. Hervé Filion won the inaugural edition in 1970, his nephew Sylvain Filion won in 1999 and Jody Jamieson won the 2001 and 2011 editions of the WDC. A Canadian driver has yet to win at home.