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Mister Herbie Nears Return

Published: March 24, 2013 9:31 pm ET

Last Comment: March 25, 2013 9:36 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Canada’s Older Trotting Horse of the Year is getting ready to take on the world.

Having already tackled some of the best trotters in harness racing on North American soil during his first year racing in the aged division, Mister Herbie will look to take his show to the international stage this year.

“Our intention is to take him overseas to the Oslo Grand Prix, which is May 12, and potentially the Elitlopp,” trainer and co-owner Jeff Gillis told Trot Insider.

The former Ontario Sires Stakes champion enjoyed a stellar start to his aged career blossoming into the nation’s top trotter with victories in the Glorys Comet Trotting Series, Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, Maple Leaf Trot (in a 1:50.4 Canadian record) and Frank Ryan Memorial. He was also a runner-up in the Nat Ray, Allerage and Breeders Crown. With a total of six wins and four seconds in 12 seasonal starts, he banked close to $1 million in purses for his Hillsburgh, Ont. conditioner, who shares ownership with Mac Nichol of Burlington, Ont. and Gerald Stay of Buffalo, New York.

The Here Comes Herbie-Independent Lassie gelding was turned out at the Glass farm in Kentucky for about six weeks following his last start in the Breeders Crown on Oct. 27. He returned to the Gillis stable at Ideal Training Centre in early January to begin preparation for a five-year-old campaign that could see him journey overseas within the next few months.

“He’s doing well. He’s healthy and fresh. We’re pretty happy with him,” said Gillis. “We trained him at Woodbine [Friday night]. Jody [Jamieson] went with him right around two minutes. He’s close to qualifying.”

Gillis said his trotting titan will qualify twice before looking for a few starts towards the end of April to get ready for his campaign overseas.

“We’ll probably qualify him the first week of April I would say and possibly as early as the end of next week, but more likely the week after,” said Gillis.

Mister Herbie will be the O’Brien Award winning trainer's first horse to race in Europe.

“We’ve certainly researched the logistics of the travel and the rules of racing and stuff like that,” said Gillis, who plans to join the trotter on his European trip. “My one concern is that the Oslo Grand Prix is a mile and five-sixteenths. It’s one thing to have a horse ready to race; it’s another thing to have him ready to go a distance he’s never gone before. So that’s going to be extra tough I think, but were hoping it sets him up good for the Elitlopp.”

While Gillis has never sent a horse to race in Europe, his good friend and regular driver brings some experience to the table in racing abroad as a two-time World Driving Champion.

“I’m pretty sure Jody Jamieson would take me off his friends list if I didn’t ask him to go,” laughed Gillis.

Looking beyond his European escapades, Mister Herbie will have a full schedule for 2013 and Canadian fans will get their share of opportunities to watch the trotter in action.

“We’re going to do the Canadian races like the Maple Leaf Trot assuming he’s healthy,” said Gillis. “He’s going to be eligible to everything. The Meadowlands has a Free For All set of races set up so we’re going to try to participate in as many of those as possible too. He’ll go to Lexington, the whole shebang. He’ll dance all the dances if he’s healthy, I don’t want to take that for granted.”

March 25, 2013 - 9:36 amBest of luck in 2013 to

Dale Leiska SAID...

Best of luck in 2013 to Herbie. We hope this includes a stop at Pocono Downs for the Breeders Crown. Hopefully Herbie can have a Healthy and Prosperous racing season. Go Get 'Em Jody & Jeff. Your 2 biggest Cheerleaders, Don & Dale.

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