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January's Calendar Photographer

Published: January 1, 2020 11:20 am ET

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First out of the gate for the 2020 Heart of Harness Racing Calendar is this winter image of horsemen jogging at Century Downs Racetrack & Casino on February 17, 2019 in below-freezing weather.

Regular calendar contributor, Orianna Scheck of Calgary, Alta., was the photographer behind the lens for this image, and was also the photographer for the October photo in the 2019 calendar.

The horses and horsemen pictured in the January shot include trainer Kyle Howard jogging Star Of Winter, who is owned and trained by Orianna (top left), groom Kelly Crump jogging Appoggiatura (centre) and trainer Jamie Gray with Yankees Rising (bottom right).

“I love this photo because it not only shows the grittiness of our Standardbreds but it also shows how tough and determined the horsemen are as well,” Scheck explained. “Here in Alberta, we had a very cold and snowy winter. The morning jog was very bitter and chilly.

“Everybody has to work extremely hard in conditions like this from the caretakers to the track maintenance. You truly have to love the horses and what you do to endure these kinds of elements. I think this photo truly captures the ‘Heart of Harness Racing’!”

Orianna has been an active participant in many facets of horse racing since 2003, including owning and grooming, and recently crossed a huge item off her bucket list, obtaining her trainer’s licence.

Since passing her trainer’s exam, Orianna took over training duties of her pacing filly Star Of Winter. The pair were featured on the Standardbred Canada website following the filly’s maiden-breaking victory at Century Mile on November 15, which was also the first training win for Orianna. “This day will definitely be one of the proudest moments in my racing career,” she shared.

This is the second time that Star Of Winter has been a calendar star for Scheck. The photogenic filly made her debut in the 2018 Heart of Harness Racing Calendar.

'Winter' had a tough start in life and many hiccups during her journey to the racetrack. “Her size was her biggest issue and she was like a big kid growing way too fast,” noted Scheck. “Her joints and ligaments couldn’t keep up to her body. Her check ligaments were always sore and tight because of her growing spurts. She had curbs that took forever to heal and go away. She needed time and I had to go really slow with her but I always believed in her and saw something special. I never gave up and was fortunate to get a lot of help along the way. And now Winter is giving back.”

Star Of Winter qualified on October 13 and since then has raced six times with a win, two seconds, a third and over $7,600 in earnings. Orianna couldn’t be prouder. “She will always be my star. She has turned into a big beautiful filly. She’s still very green but she has a big heart and big motor. I sure hope I can guide her to reach her full potential one day.”

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