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A Galvanizing Time For 'Team Hennessy'

Published: October 24, 2020 11:44 pm ET

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Rod Hennessy is no stranger to the highs and lows of the harness racing roller coaster. Unfortunately for his family, the lows are right now are affecting them all in a different sort of way.

Rod's son-in-law, former Standardbred Canada member Jamie Kundert, was recently involved in a serious accident and remains hospitalized as a result.

"From what we can ascertain, Jamie -- my son-in-law -- had a stroke driving a gravel truck," Hennessy told Trot Insider. "He hit two other vehicles with the gravel truck, and as far as we know, there are no other injuries but he has broken all his ribs, his sternum, he's had a brain bleed from the stroke. His orbital bone on the left side is going to have to be repaired. He's in an induced coma and on a ventilator, which they're keeping him on for a few more days. He also has a bit of pneumonia."

Jamie is married to Rod's daughter, Kate, and they have two boys: Lucas, 6, and Jacob, 8. Hennessy notes that the four all love the industry (both Jamie and Kate are allergic to horses) and attend the races with the boys whenever they can.

Friends of the Kundert family have established a GoFundMe page to help the family navigate this this grievous and stressful time.

Hennessy admits that it's not as easy to concentrate on his stable while his son-in-law remains in hospital. His stable has had to navigate difficulties of its own.

"It's been that type of year for me. I've had a very bad virus, and allergies...you seem to get over it for a week, and then it comes back at them. It's one of those years. We're still above ground, and we'll make it tougher on those other guys as soon as we can."

Case in point, Hennessy's rookie pacing colt Shark Week was handed his first defeat last Saturday in the 2020 Alberta Super Final for two-year-old pacing colts -- a race won by Dragon Energy. Hennessy had a good idea going into the $50,000 event that it wasn't going to be his day, or his colt's.

"Mike told me before the races -- he drove both the week before -- and he said 'I don't think we can beat Nathan's horse. He said 'he's just a stronger horse.' And we were in retention, and my colt's a nervous colt and he actually washed out during the night. The guys looking after him in retention said he never settled down one bit."

Hennessy might send out Shark Week for one more start before the end of the year, hoping to ride at least one roller coaster back onto the upswing.


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