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2019 WDC First Leg Complete

Published: May 24, 2019 12:01 am ET

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The first leg of the 2019 World Driving Championship is complete after three races were contested on Friday (May 24) at Solvalla Racecourse in Stockholm, Sweden.

Defending 2017 World Driving Champion James MacDonald of Guelph, Ont. was one of three drivers to find the winner's circle on Friday, guiding Pegasus All Over to victory in the second WDC race of the first leg. MacDonald sits in third after the first leg with 28 points.

The other two drivers to win on Friday also rank among the top three after the first of six WDC legs. Local favourite Ulf Ohlsson tops the standings with 33.5 points, with Finland's Mika Forss - runner-up to MacDonald in the 2017 WDC -- sitting in second with 31 points.

"It is an honour to be representing Sweden, and it’s all about enjoying the week," said Ohlsson following his victory. "I had been told that Venerdi did not like to trot in the lead, and it was just the ideal race for us. It feels great to be winning races for Sweden.

Action resumes in the 2019 World Driving Championship on Saturday (May 25) with a single dash at Solvalla. Here's the leaderboard after the first leg:

1. Ulf Ohlsson (Sweden) - 33.5
2. Mika Forss (Finland) - 31
3. James MacDonald (Canada/ITA) - 28
4. Yannick Gingras (USA) - 25
5. Todd McCarthy (Australia) - 23
6. Matthew Williamson (New Zealand) - 22
T7. Franck Nivard (France) - 18
T7. Michael Nimczyk (Germany) - 18
T9. Eirik Hoitomt (Norway) - 17
T9. Rick Ebbinge (The Netherlands) - 17
11. Rodney Gatt (Malta) - 14
12. Doug McNair (Canada) - 13.5

Race Recaps

WDC Race 1 - : Finland's Mika Forss picked up where he left off in Canada as the runner-up in the 2017 World Driving Championship struck first in the first race of the 2019 World Driving Championship.

Mika Forss captured the first 2019 World Driving Championship race with a gate-to-wire win aboard Hersey Boko. Forss held off a late bid from Esther Fall (Franck Nivard; France) with Volusia Bell (Rick Ebbinge; Netherlands) completing the top three.

WDC Race 2: After having his horse break behind the gate in the first race, Canada's James MacDonald had Pegasus All Over in perfect striking range and found the wire at the right time to win the second 2019 World Driving Championship race at Solvalla.

MacDonald and Pegasus All Over just held off Melby Glorious (Yannick Gingras; USA) with Digital Catapult (Eirik Höitomt; Norway) next best after setting the tempo of the 1-5/16 mile event.

WDC Race 3: A win for the home team in the third and final race during the first leg of the 2019 World Driving Championship as Sweden's Ulf Ohlsson vaulted Venerdi off cover in the stretch and powered past his rivals to hit the wire first.

Venerdi held off Quite Right (Matthew Williamson; New Zealand) and Viper Lavec (Michael Nimczyk; Germany) in the 1-5/8 mile race.

Twelve of the top harness racing drivers from around the globe will compete in the first of six legs. Drivers will earn points based on their finishing position and the top point-earner will be declared the 2019 World Driving Champion and win $25,000 (USD) in prize money.

A trio of heats will be contested on Friday featuring Canadian entrants Doug McNair, the 2018 National Driving Champion, and James MacDonald, who claimed the 2017 World Driving Championship on Canadian soil.

The tournament's second leg of a single dash takes place on Saturday (May 25). Competitors will break on Sunday (May 26) to allow for the Elitloppet, and will resume with WDC legs throughout the country on Monday (May 27), Tuesday (May 28), Wednesday (May 29) and Friday (May 31).

Trot Insider will provide updates on the 2019 World Driving Championship as later races are drawn and as the tournament progresses.

Please note that we have been advised by representatives from Sweden that live video streaming will not be available. Trot Insider will post race replays when available..

The fields for the first three heats, along with drivers and countries, follow:

Heat 1 - Friday, May 24 - Solvalla, Race 1
1-5/16 miles
1. Landing Gear - Ulf Ohlsson (Sweden)
2. Line Select - Rodney Gatt (Malta)
3. Sweet On You - Doug McNair (Canada)
4. Boulder Pearl - Eirik Höitomt (Norway)
5. Amber Attack - Todd McCarthy (Australia)
6. Hersey Boko - Mika Forss (Finland)
7. Honey Bunny - Yannick Gingras (United States)
8. Esther Fall - Franck Nivard (France)
9. Dixie Brick - James MacDonald (Canada)
10. Volusia Bell - Rick Ebbinge (Netherlands)
11. Yvaine Gene - Matthew Williamson (New Zealand)
12. Andrina - Michael Nimczyk (Germany)

Heat 2 - Friday, May 24 - Solvalla, Race 3
1-5/16 miles
1. Mellby Glorious - Yannick Gingras (United States)
2. Digital Catapult - Eirik Höitomt (Norway)
3. La Surprise Tooma - Rick Ebbinge (Netherlands)
4. Pegasus All Over - James MacDonald (Canada)
5. Satcom - Rodney Gatt (Malta)
6. Savethebestforlast - Franck Nivard (France)
7. Jordan - Todd McCarthy (Australia)
8. Connectra - Matthew Williamson (New Zealand)
9. Enjoys X Drive - Ulf Ohlsson (Sweden)
10. Vasterbo Cirkus - Doug McNair (Canada)
11. BWT Danger - Mika Forss (Finland)
12. Ivanhoe - Michael Nimczyk (Germany)

Heat 3 - Friday, May 24 - Solvalla, Race 4
1-5/8 miles
1. Bishop - Mika Forss (Finland)
2. Anddontsayitsover - Todd McCarthy (Australia)
3. Venerdi - Ulf Ohlsson (Sweden)
4. Ridgehead Mikko - Doug McNair (Canada)
5. Dontstopbelievin - Rodney Gatt (Malta)
6. Quite Right - Matthew Williamson (New Zealand)
7. Digital Network - Yannick Gingras (United States)
8. Viper Lavec - Michael Nimczyk (Germany)
9. Dexter Brick - James MacDonald (Canada)
10. Zaffiro GZO - Franck Nivard (France)
11. Oboy CD - Eirik Höitomt (Norway)
12. Forever Newport - Rick Ebbinge (Netherlands)

Points for the Championship are awarded in each heat according to the official order of finish. The winner of the race receives 19 points and then in descending order 14 (2); 11 (3); 9 (4); 8 (5); 7 (6); 6 (7); 5 (8); 4 (9); 3 (10); 2 (11) and 1 (12)

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