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Campbell's Shot At Redemption

Published: June 20, 2016 10:07 am ET

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In the 2014 National Driving Championship, Prince Edward Island’s Marc Campbell finished a close second behind winner Jody Jamieson with the title coming down to the last race. The event, hosted at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park, was also part of a tour stop for all of the provincial Premiers who were on hand for the thrilling competition with most taking part in winner’s circle race presentations.

Heading into the final race Jamieson was on top by 10 points with 81 to Campbell's 71. Both reinsmen had three wins to their credit. When the horses crossed the wire in the final heat, Jamieson was a going-away winner aboard Perfect Escape in 1:55.4, to finish with 96 points and Campbell next in line with 81.

Campbell had his first shot at a NDC title back in 2009 when he was only 24 years old -- the youngest competitor in the event -- with his wife Natasha in tow and expecting their second child. Brad Forward emerged champion from the competition, held that year at Fraser Downs in B.C., and went on to represent Canada in the World Driving Championship in Norway.

Landon, Rayah, Marc, Nate (on lap) and Allie Campbell (photo courtesy Natasha Campbell)

Now, the 31-year-old Winsloe, P.E.I. resident and father of four has another shot at the NDC title with the opportunity of representing Canada in the 2017 World Driving Championship. In order to do that, he must finish first or second in the Atlantic Regional scheduled for June 25 at Red Shores.

“As usual, it is a competitive field,” Campbell states, “we have a great bunch of drivers in Atlantic Canada so it should make things quite interesting. Really, when it all comes down to it, the draw and the horses you happen to be driving play a big part in the outcome of these types of events.”

For Campbell, who won the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship in 2012, advancing to the National is important. “I've always taken great pride in being an Islander so to represent our island at Nationals would be a very proud moment for me. “

Now to win the National and represent Canada in the WDC would be “a dream come true” for Campbell who has driven 1,538 winners and horses to $3.37 million in purse earnings during his career. “It’s something I've been so close to achieving. If this were to ever happen, it would mean accomplishing a huge goal of mine. I think as an athlete, we dream of someday representing our country in a sport that not only identifies us but also consumes most of our day to day lives. To put it mildly, I'd be pretty excited.

“The format that is used, in my opinion, is probably the most fair way to run a competition of this nature," Campbell remarked. "It gives everyone a chance of racing from each post position and hopefully the horses are all classified where it is an equal opportunity for every driver involved. “

Campbell, who also trains a stable of horses, is very satisfied with how his 2016 season is going.

“Honestly, I could not have asked for a better start. My stable is shaping up nicely and at this point consists of seemingly talented horses for the upcoming stake season. From here on in, I'm just hoping for a successful stake season, driving year and most of all for my family, friends and stable to remain safe and healthy. As long as that happens, I don't think one can ask for much more."

The schedule for the Regional Championships are as follows:

Ontario Regional -- Grand River Raceway; Friday, June 24

Atlantic Regional -- Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park; Saturday, June 25

Western Regional -- Century Downs; Sunday, June 26

Quebec / Eastern Ontario Regional -- Hippodrome 3R; Tuesday, July 12

Drivers will receive points based on their finishing position and the top two drivers from each regional competition will advance to the 2016 National Driving Championship scheduled for Friday, October 14 at The Raceway at Western Fair District.

The winner of the NDC will represent Canada in harness racing's 2017 World Driving Championship, hosted by Standardbred Canada in concert with the World Trotting Conference in August. The 2017 WDC will kick off in the west at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino in Calgary, AB. The drivers will then head to Ontario for the next two legs. Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville will host the second leg followed by the third leg at Georgian Downs in Innisfil. The action then moves to Quebec where Hippodrome 3R will host the fourth leg. Finally, drivers will head to Prince Edward Island and Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park for the fifth and final leg of the Championship.

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