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A Changing Of The Guard?

Published: January 21, 2019 11:02 am ET

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Bob McClure is among a trio of under-30 drivers that has garnered five of the last six nominations as Canada's Driver of the Year. Given that, the signs appear to point to a new regime of pilots atop the nation's standings as one decade of harness racing nears an end and another is clearly within sight.

McClure, Doug McNair and Louis-Philippe Roy have been five of the last six Driver of the Year finalists, and none of them are 30 years old as of yet. Speaking about McClure in particular, his statistics are trending in the direction of a sulky-sitting star.

In terms of numbers, McClure’s ascension really began five years ago. After having progressively increased his totals throughout the start of this decade, the last five years have really seen the Elora, Ontario-based reinsman begin to stand out from the majority of his peers.

McClure’s starts, driver rating and purse earnings have each experienced a significant boost since 2014. His wins and on-the-board finishes have definitely spiked in the right direction during the past handful of years, as well.

Bob McClure, pictured victorious with O'Brien Award finalist Forbidden Trade

McClure's season definitely positions him as worthy 2018 O'Brien Award finalist. The other nominee for Canada’s top driver of 2018 is none other than Louis-Philippe Roy, who will be at the O’Briens once again (he was also a finalist for the award after his 2017 campaign in the sulky).

Standardbred Canada will present the 30th edition of the O’Brien Awards on Saturday, February 2, 2019 at the Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale Hotel. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased by contacting the Member & Stakeholder Relations Department at 905-858-3060. Tickets are $200 each (includes HST) and include a cocktail reception, gourmet dinner, wine, and complimentary portrait.

Trot Insider recently touched base with McClure in advance of the O’Briens and asked him for a comment on his successful ’18 campaign that has brought him to this point.

"I was very happy with the year. I drove a lot of very nice horses for top trainers and owners," said McClure, who stated that a special afternoon in August was the pinnacle of his campaign.

"The highlight (of 2018) was definitely Dream Together winning on Hambo Day. That way a real thrill for me and her connections."

Dream Together, a then-four-year-old daughter of Muscle Hill, was sent off at odds of 51-1 in the $154,800 Dr. John R. Steele Memorial on Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands Racetrack. After having stalked from mid-pack early, McClure and Dream Together battled their competition hard in the homestretch and ultimately prevailed by a neck in 1:51.3.

"Picking up the Determination stable was a huge factor in my success this year,” said McClure, when asked who or what he owed his seasonal success to. “[The Determination stable] invests a lot of money in getting quality horses and Luc Blais does an amazing job with them. I’m happy to be along for the ride."

McClure explained to Trot Insider that he was excited when he was informed that he was a finalist for Canada’s top driver of 2018. "When I found out I was very happy. It’s exciting when you get that call."

The pilot commented to Trot Insider that he expects Roy to leave the upcoming awards ceremony with the driving hardware. The truth is that nobody will know until that envelope gets opened.

"Me and my family had a great time (at the O’Brien Awards) last time,” McClure said. “I think I’m coming in second again this year, as Louie led in every category -- he had a fantastic year. But it's an absolute thrill just to be there."

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