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MacDonald Wins Ontario Regional

Published: June 24, 2016 6:00 pm ET

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Driver James MacDonald had the early winning momentum while Trevor Henry finished strong to top the point standings in the Ontario Regional Driving Championship and advance to the National Driving Championship.

Grand River Raceway hosted the nine-race Ontario regional event on Friday, June 24 and MacDonald was the point leader from start to finish. The 30-year-old resident of Guelph, Ont. opened the competition with a victory in the first race aboard Twin B Amour ($12.50) and also earned wins with Master Smile ($10) in the third leg and Little Whiskey Gal ($6.30) in the sixth leg. A pair of runner-up efforts in two other legs also padded his point total and he ended the competition with 78 points.

"I'm pretty pumped," said MacDonald. "It's an honour just to be invited to race with these guys. They're a great bunch of drivers and any one of us could have won with the right card, the right horses, so I'm pretty happy to be the victor.

"And I'm really happy Jody didn't win again," joked MacDonald, referring to five-time Canadian rep and two-time World Driving champion Jody Jamieson, who had moved into a two-way tie for second-place with Alfie Carroll before Henry began his late winning crusade.

Henry ranked eighth for points before earning back-to-back victories in the final two legs with Topanga Canyon ($4.60) and Flexie ($7.10). Those victories propelled him to second-place in the standings to edge out Jamieson by one point (60-59).

The 45-year-old reinsman from Arthur, Ont., who represented Canada at the 2013 World Driving Championship in France, said he was "ecstatic" to compete in the National Driving Championship again.

The Atlantic Regional Driving Championship will be held next at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park on Saturday, June 25, followed by the Western Regional at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino on Sunday, June 26. The Quebec/Eastern Ontario Regional will be hosted by Hippodrome 3R on Tuesday, July 12.

The top two point-earners from each of the four regional competitions will advance to the National Driving Championship on October 14 at The Raceway at Western Fair District in London, Ont. The winner of the National Driving Championship will represent Canada in the 2017 World Driving Championship, which will be hosted in Canada.

OFFICIAL POINT TOTALS

1. James MacDonald - 78
2. Trevor Henry - 60
3. Jody Jamieson - 59
4. Doug McNair - 57
5. Alfie Carroll - 55
6. Billy Davis Jr. - 49
7. Nick Steward - 47
8. Paul MacKenzie - 42
9. Bob McClure - 37

RACE RECAPS

Leg 1: James MacDonald opened the competition with a victory in the first race aboard Twin B Amour ($12.50). They rallied off the cover of Jennys So Great (Doug McNair) to defeat that rival and the popular pacesetter Smile Style (Alfie Carroll) at the finish line in 1:56.3. Billy Davis Jr.'s mount (Alibi Terror) was scratched.

Leg 2: Nick Steward moved into a two-way tie atop the leaderboard as he guided Singhampton Kenny ($103.30) to a 50-1 upset in the second leg. Singhampton Kenny stormed home from the backfield to win in 1:57 flat, with Bunkhouse Brawl (Carroll) coming on for second while the favoured Maracasso (Jamieson) settled for third after leading throughout. Opening leg winner MacDonald had to watch from the sidelines as his mount (Third Stuge) was scratched.

Leg 3: MacDonald struck again in the third leg with Master Smile ($10) scoring in 1:56.3. They followed the cover of favourite Heza Workof Art (Paul MacKenzie), who worked to clear eventual breaker Rough Trade (McNair) at the third quarter mark. Master Smile overtook Heza Workof Art in the deep stretch to give MacDonald sole ownership of the top spot on the leaderboard while Demachracy (Jamieson) followed in third.

Leg 4: Steward countered with another victory in the fourth leg aboard Saftic Seelster ($11.80) and tied MacDonald again for first-place in the point standings. They followed favourite Goodmorningmister (Trevor Henry) in the pocket and then came through along the pylons to prevail in 1:58.1. Lis Deo (Carroll) fanned out four-wide and rallied home on the far outside to steal the runner-up honours over Goodmorningmister and Shiftyn Georgie (MacKenzie).

Leg 5: Doug McNair was a new winner in the fifth leg of the tournament with the front-stepping favourite Monte Cristo ($5.70) stopping the clock in 1:55.2. MacDonald came close as he moved Lovedancinwithyou outside in the stretch off a ground-saving three-hole trip and made it a photo finish. The pocket-sitting Sovereign Wealth (Davis Jr.) finished third over Dreydl Hanover (Henry), who had moved three-wide to challenge the winner at the third quarter mark. McNair climbed to fourth-place in the point standings with the victory, while MacDonald maintained his lead pulling ahead of Steward.

Leg 6: MacDonald was back to his winning ways in the sixth leg with a last-to-first triumph aboard favourite Little Whiskey Gal ($6.30) in 1:58.1. They closed widest of all to steal the spotlight in the final strides over pacesetter Michelles Deuce (Davis Jr.) and another late-closer, Whosurbeast (Carroll). Lotteria (MacKenzie) and Stirling Breeze (McNair) were both scratched.

Leg 7: Two-time World Driving champion Jody Jamieson earned his first victory in the regional competition steering Cat Four ($10) wire-to-wire in 1:54.3. MacDonald followed in second aboard Putnams New Year while favourite Dutch Seelster (Bob McClure) overtook Nor Star Renegade (McNair) back in third. Jamieson moved into a tie for third-place in the point standings with McNair just behind Carroll as MacDonald continued to inflate his leading total.

Leg 8: Trevor Henry made a trip to the winner's circle after guiding favourite Topanga Canyon ($4.60) through the passing lane for the 1:57 victory in the eighth leg. They defeated Jamieson and the pacesetting Vraka Hanover while Polk Dot Hanover (Carroll) came through off a ground-saving trip for third ahead of first over challenger Lady Hot Shot (McNair). Bella Noche (MacKenzie) was scratched. With a boost to his point total, Henry moved into sixth-place while Jamieson tied Carroll in second behind MacDonald.

Leg 9: Henry closed out the competition with back-to-back victories, taking the ninth and final leg with favourite Flexie ($7.10) in 1:59.4. A parked out Tymal Wizard (Davis Jr.) picked up cover and rallied wide at the third quarter mark to come on for second. Schrader Hanover (McNair) finished third off a pocket trip. With the victory, Henry climbed to second-place in the point standings and secured a spot in the National Driving Championship while MacDonald maintained his lead to the end.

To view Friday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Friday Results - Grand River Raceway.

SCORING

The Regional Driving Championships and the National Driving Championship will adapt the point system utilized in the World Driving Championship. Points will be awarded on the order of finish as follows:

Number of Starters: 9
16 (1), 11 (2), 8 (3), 6 (4), 5 (5), 4 (6), 3 (7), 2 (8), 1 (9)

Number of Starters 8:
15 (1), 10 (2), 7 (3), 5 (4), 4 (5), 3 (6), 2 (7), 1 (8)

Number of Starters 7:
14 (1) 9 (2), 6 (3), 4 (4), 3 (5), 2 (6), 1 (7)

In the event of a scratch, the driving rep drawn to a horse shall drive the ‘also eligible’ horse.

In the event of a horse being scratched or where no horse is available, five (5) points shall be awarded to the driver concerned. If a horse is disqualified or a horse and driver fail to complete the race, they will receive one (1) point.

In the event of a dead heat for any placing in any race, the points for the horses involved will be added together and divided equally among the drivers concerned (for example, if there’s a dead heat for third between two horses, the points for third and fourth-place will be added and divided among the drivers).


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