In order to solidify the card for the National Driving Championship (NDC), Standardbred Canada held a conference call with the eight NDC participants on Sunday (Nov. 20) to finalize the horses they will drive this Thursday (Nov. 24) at Century Mile.
The NDC drivers selected the horses they wanted in a fantasy-draft style format, with each driver getting the opportunity to select first overall in one of the eight NDC races. Each driver had the opportunity to make a selection first through eighth during the draft, and the post position draw was held following the draft ensuring that each driver starts from post one through eight in the tournament.
The winner of the 2022 National Driving Championship, presented by Standardbred Canada and hosted by Century Mile Racetrack and Casino, will represent Canada at the 2023 World Driving Championship, which will be held in The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium from Aug. 14 to Aug. 18.
With the draft being complete and the fields now set, Trot Insider asked all eight drivers for a comment on the rationale behind their first overall picks.
Samuel Fillion (Quebec/Eastern Ontario): Eyes On The Prize in Race 3
“Judging on her lines, she’s been competitive racing at this level. Good connections and I think she has a good shot. Hopefully the race can work out in our favour.”
Doug McNair (Ontario): Oriental Express in Race 4
“Honestly, I’m just basing it off the lines, really. Most of us don’t know the horses in this competition too well, which will make the racing different. To me, Oriental Express looks like the best on paper in the field and I’m going to give her a chance and hope that she gives me a solid effort.”
Mike Hennessy (Western Canada): No Collusion in Race 5
“I remember his first start at Century Mile this year and he was solid. As you can see, he’s had a great year, hasn’t had to ship anywhere out of the way. Most of all, Lance [Ward] has them ready.”
Pascal Berube (Quebec/Eastern Ontario): Light My Shadow in Race 6
“He went a great mile in his last start, including a :29.1 final quarter. Not to mention, he opened up another three lengths turning for home. He looks good in there.”
Dave Kelly (Western Canada): Suellen Hanover in Race 7
“I just think in this class she should race really well. Over at Century Downs, she couldn’t really get a hold of her footing all that well, and at Century Mile, the surface is a lot better, so I think that will only help her race better there.”
Louis-Philippe Roy (Ontario): Tajmania in Race 8
“Actually, there were three horses I liked in this race: Litizor, Prairie Pursuit and Tajmania, but I opted to stick with the French connections. Truthfully, I liked all three horses and me driving for a French Canadian in Jean-Francois Gagne was the deciding factor. That approach has worked for me here in Toronto so I hope it will work out on Thursday, too.”
Gilles Barrieau (Atlantic Canada): Crazy I M in Race 9
“He looks consistent all the way down and has been a solid on-the-board finisher all year. He looks like he’s the class of the field, in comparison to what he’s been racing to. I just have a hunch he’ll race well.”
Marc Cambpell (Atlantic Canada): Blue Who in Race 10
“I looked at his wins this year and he’s got nine of them. In addition, he’s under the care of a high-percentage trainer, so I figured I’d give him a shot.”
The NDC races are carded as Races 3 through 10 on Thursday's program. Post time for the evening's first race is 6:15 p.m. (MST). Full coverage and live streaming of the NDC will be available on standardbredcanada.ca.
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