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Rey: A Man Of Many Talents

Published: June 15, 2018 9:26 am ET

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Mitch Rey might not be the driver with the most race miles under his belt in next Saturday’s Western Regional Driving Championship, but he can probably be considered one of the most diverse competitors in the event.

In addition to driving harness horses, he works full time in the animal feed business as a Poultry Nutritionist, and oversees a herd of 200 red Simmental cattle for his parents. You might say he doesn’t put all of his eggs in one basket!

The 29 year-old resident of St. Claude, MB, comes into the event as Manitoba’s representative and is extremely excited about the competition. On Saturday, June 23, he will drive for the first time at Century Downs. “I’m pretty excited to compete in the WRDC to say the least! We are pretty 'small time' here in Manitoba so to be able to race at a location like Century Downs is the chance of a lifetime! For me to be able to drive against Western Canada’s best drivers will be an honour!”

Back in 2016, he was aspiring to compete in the Western Regional but that honour fell to Don Howlett. Now, two years later after Howlett, who was Manitoba’s top dash-winning driver last season, turned down the invitation due to other commitments, Rey was next on the list and didn’t take long to accept.

Rey has had a lifelong interest in harness racing. “My Dad (Richard Rey) has been in the industry since 1976 so I was raised with harness racing in my blood,” explained Rey, who obtained his trainer’s license in 2006 and driver’s license in 2007. His career has been predominantly based in Manitoba but he has also raced in Saskatchewan and North Dakota. Rey credits his Dad as his biggest mentor in racing. “He’s taught me everything I know about the sport and without his interest in harness racing I probably wouldn’t be racing every summer on the Manitoba Great Western Harness Racing Circuit!”

Rey has 115 wins and earnings in excess of $225,000 to his credit during his 11 seasons of driving and for the past several years, has been near the top of the Manitoba driving charts. On July 29, 2007, he posted his first driving victory at the Miami Fair Track with pacing gelding Trulyatyrant In a time of 1:59.3. Since that time, he’s won, on more than one occasion, the three biggest stakes events for three-year-olds in Manitoba -- The Manitoba Great Western, The Manitoba Futurity and The Lady Crocus.

Rey graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, majoring in Animal Science in 2010 at the University of Manitoba and then went on to obtain his Masters in 2012. He’s been working full-time in the animal feed industry since 2013 and is currently a Poultry Nutritionist for Manitoba and Saskatchewan and also provides on-farm technical support for the sales staff and customers from both provinces.

When he’s not working at any of his three jobs, although he says harness racing and the cattle are his biggest hobbies since neither is full-time, he tries to spend time in the outdoors and enjoys hunting.

A spot in the National Driving Championship would certainly be a lift for Manitoba harness racing and as a director on the Manitoba Harness Horsemen’s Association; Rey is hopeful that the industry will have an extended meet at the Assiniboia Downs Racetrack in Winnipeg, MB.

The Western Regional Driving Championship takes place on Saturday, June 23 at Century Downs Racetrack & Casino and racing starts at 1:15 p.m. In addition to Rey, the field includes: Paul Davies, Philip Giesbrecht, Jamie Gray, Kelly Hoerdt, Dave Hudon, David Kelly and Jim Marino.

The eight drivers will participate in eight competition races. Each race will have a field of eight and each driver will drive from every post position.

Drivers will receive points based on their finishing position and the top two drivers from the nine-race competition will join six other drivers at the 2018 National Driving Championship (NDC) at Grand River Raceway.

The winner of the 2018 NDC will have the opportunity to represent Canada in the WDC, and join 2017 World Driving Champion, James MacDonald, in the 2019 WDC in Sweden.

Here are the locations and dates for the three remaining regional events (in chronological order):

Western Regional (Includes drivers from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba)
Century Downs -- Saturday, June 23

Atlantic Regional (Includes drivers from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island)
Truro Raceway -- Friday, June 29

Quebec / Eastern Ontario Regional (Includes drivers that compete regularly at Kawartha Downs and Rideau Carleton Raceway in addition to Hippodrome 3R)
Kawartha Downs -- Saturday, June 30

Trevor Henry and Louis-Philippe Roy finished first and second in the Ontario Regional Driving Championship, hosted on Wednesday, May 16 at The Raceway at Western Fair District, and advance to the NDC.

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