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Get To Know Debbie Francis

Published: April 15, 2019 11:22 am ET

Last Comment: April 15, 2019 12:23 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

In March, Debbie Francis was announced as the new executive director of the Atlantic Standardbred Breeders Association (click here) and the vice president of the Truro Harness Horse Owners Association (and here). Some may be unaware of Francis’ pedigree in the Standardbred game, and if that is the case, the Truro Daily News has done its best to bring everyone up to speed.

The Truro Daily News has assembled a profile piece on Francis, who, like virtually every harness horseperson, has faced adversity, overcome it, and has grown to be a stronger individual because of it.

“I’ve been in the harness racing industry now for over 20 years,” Francis explained. “My dad was involved in the Sackville Downs days. I used to tag along when he’d go as a small child.”

Francis, who two years ago experienced a serious health scare, went on to explain that the combination of being at the track and bringing a filly home fuelled her initial passion for the industry.

“Seventeen years ago, my dad purchased a filly to race in the sires stakes program, racing at age two and three,” Francis stated. “When she was done racing, I took her home and bred her, and she’s still there. That’s what really got me involved.”

In 2017, after having gone to the doctor for a checkup, Francis found herself undergoing unexpected surgery, as a tumour had been found on her heart. She has told the Truro Daily News that the daily barn duties associated with Standardbred ownership and racing was a therapeutic aspect of her recovery.

Debbie Francis, her son Gregory, and Jazzmo (Images courtesy Colin Chisholm/Truro Daily News).

“By the time March came around and I was allowed to drive and (was) walking more, it was a great therapy. Barn work is my thinking time,” Francis said, adding, “Horses have a soothing aspect about them.”

Debbie has passed the racing bug down to her son, 17-year-old Gregory, who has been active in the industry jogging and helping train horses.

“We need people like Gregory and others to come through now,” said Debbie, “the folks who are predominantly there now are from an older generation.”

The article states that a feasibility study for Truro Raceway is currently underway and the results of it are expected to be unveiled at the end of May. According to Truro Daily News, the report will evaluate the sustainability of the racetrack.

Debbie is hoping that the provincial government will recognize the value of Truro Raceway and the Nova Scotia industry overall, and will do what it can to support it going forward.

“Not a lot of young people wake up one day and think ‘I want to race horses.’ Things like dirt bikes or hockey are way more front and centre,” said Debbie, who stated that racing needs to do more to expose its product and culture to the mainstream. “It’s a passion and it has to be. You’re not in it for the money, it’s about the love of the game.”

(With files from the Truro Daily News)

April 15, 2019 - 12:23 pmCongratulations to Debbie and

Congratulations to Debbie and best of luck in her future endeavors.

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