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Racing Returns To Ohsweken

Published: September 9, 2018 9:27 am ET

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There was a chill in the fall air on Saturday (Sept. 8), but it did not deter an enthusiastic gathering from flocking trackside to cheer on their harness racing favourites at the 151st annual Six Nations fall fair in Ohsweken.

The Ohsweken Fair -- the only fair in Ontario to conduct charted harness racing with pari-mutuel wagering this year -- is one of Canada’s oldest, as it conducted its initial fair in 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation. Veteran horsemen recall when harness racing was featured at more than 150 Ontario towns, cities and villages in the 1900s. The Lansdowne fair also hosted an afternoon of live racing earlier this summer, but wagering on the races was not offered.

Ohsweken, located on the Six Nations Reserve, is the largest reserve in Canada, extending six miles wide on each side of the Grand River from its northern source near Shelburne, Ont., to Lake Erie. The community’s name comes from the Mohawk word 'Tayoswaken,' which translates to mean 'the fork where one route goes to the happy hunting ground and the other leads to the place of torment.'

Ken Oliver scored a driving double on the four-race card with Flysantanna in the $5,000 Six Nations Elective Council Pace (Race 1) and Lyons Fairhanover in the Fred Hill Pace (Race 2), which honours the late Fred Hill. Both of the horses are trained by Ancaster horseman Alan Fair and owned by Alan and Elizabeth Fair, respectively.

Mighty Mouse proved best in the third race for Scott Coulter, who steered the consistent seven-year-old bay mare to her eighth victory this season for Brantford owners Nancy Coulter and his trainer-father Robert Paul Coulter.

Morning line favourite Vijayscam, trained and driven by veteran horseman Don Graham for Lynda Marshall of St.Thomas, reeled off a 2:02.2 winning effort in the $5,000 Earl Hill Memorial (Race 4) for his third win of the year.

All participating horses received a spanking new blanket and horsepeople were treated to a tasty meal of roast beef, lasagna and other goodies in the stable area following the races.

Mohawk Marshall Joanne Colville and her daughter, Emma, led the horses in the post parades. Rob McKay presided in the judges' stand. Eric Lauredson charted the races. John Chandler was the timer for the card and Gary Guy entertained the fans with his witty comments and exciting race calls.

Albert Green, a retired iron worker and Ohsweken native, is the enthusiastic mover and shaker who organized the entire race program with the help of a hard working team of volunteers. Green was happy with the day's results.

“Everything went well," Green said. "I am pleased with the tremendous support of the many sponsors and the fans who braved the chilly weather and bettered last year’s mutuel handle of $1,994 by wagering $2,068 on the afternoon’s four-race card.”

Band Chief Ava Hill, daughter of Fred Hill and a fourth generation harness racing enthusiast, welcomed the return of the trotters and pacers to Ohsweken.

“Harness racing has always been a major event in our community for many years and we are so excited to have it back at the Ohsweken Fair," Hill said. "It brings an excitement back to the fair which can be enjoyed by our community members and the visitors we hope it will attract.”

With the addition of 21 new stalls, complete with modern lighting, washrooms and wash bays, the Ohsweken Fairgrounds backstretch is an excellent place for trainers to condition their horses.


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