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Doucet's Chance Of A Lifetime

Published: September 23, 2018 7:58 pm ET

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There's a solid chance that, despite competing against two drivers with roots close to Grand River Raceway, Nova Scotia's Redmond Doucet will have the biggest cheering section at the 2018 National Driving Championship.

Doucet, who finished second in the 2018 Atlantic Regional Driving Championship this past June, is making the most of this opportunity to represent his country at the 2019 World Driving Championship in Sweden next May.

"We're making a trip of it; we're going to have fun," said Doucet. "My wife has family in Windsor, they're all coming and my family and friends are going up. Just on one flight alone I counted 15."

Some of Doucet's friends from Nova Scotia will be making the most of this opportunity as well as a trotting filly they co-own -- Witches N Angels -- is set to compete in the Ontario Sires Stakes Gold events on Tuesday. Unable to attend due to NDC commitments, Doucet will surely be trying to catch a live stream of the race as it happens.

To bring things full circle, the trotting filly is trained by Joe MacIsaac. A look at Doucet's racelines show some Ontario-based driving activity in years past. Some of those drives came as a result of Doucet spending his winters in Ontario and working for MacIsaac. Doucet recalls driving a trotter at Grand River years back for trainer Herb Holland as well, but his experience at the Elora, Ont. half-miler is admittedly limited. Thus, Doucet has been watching the replays and checking the past performances on the Wednesdays trying to get a feel for the horses and the track itself.

Will all that research help come Wednesday? If Friday's draft is any indication, the answer would be closer to the affirmative than the negative. Doucet told Trot Insider that he was able to select three horses that he really wanted during last week's horse selection conference call.

"Three out of eight isn't too bad. Whatever happens from there will all be decided on Wednesday. I was happy with my selections."

2018 Atlantic Regional Driving Champion Gilles Barrieau (second from L) and runner-up Redmond Doucet (second from R) flanked by Standardbred Canada directors Kent Oakes (L) and Tony Zuethoff (R)

Doucet makes one thing abundantly clear: he is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the National Driving Championship. In years past, a driver from his homebase of Inverness Raceway wasn't necessarily guaranteed to be a part of the regional driving championships. This year, a participant was part of the process. And who better to represent the Cape Breton oval than the track's leading teamster in terms of wins and earnings, plus a driver whose father was both a race secretary and SC field rep at the track in years past, and a driver who grew up a stone's throw away from the grandstand.

In his attempt to advance to the NDC, Doucet made it count...but he felt it nearly slip away in the final race of the competition. Heading into the last leg, Doucet was near the top of the leaderboard but finished fifth in his final drive while Hughes dead-heated for third in his final drive. That dead heat took his third-place finish in that race from a seven-point tally to six, and gave Doucet enough points to maintain second place and advance.

"I was pretty disappointed I finished fifth in the final race, and the two guys I was up against finished ahead of me. I didn't think I was getting there," recalled Doucet. "When they actually told me who was going I was pretty pumped."

Doucet is looking forward to driving against his seven rivals in the National Driving Championship, and meeting the guys he's never had a chance to drive against before. That field includes Gilles Barrieau, Stephane Brosseau, Guy Gagnon, Jamie Gray, Trevor Henry, Kelly Hoerdt and Doug McNair.

The National Driving Championship races are carded as races two through nine on the Wednesday program at Grand River. First race post time is 6:30 p.m.

To view the complete fields, click here or view program pages here courtesy of TrackIT.

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