On Wednesday (May 11), the first two drivers with the opportunity to represent Canada at the 2023 World Driving Championship will be determined as nine of Ontario's top drivers will square off in the Ontario Regional Driving Championship (ORDC) at The Raceway at The Western Fair District in London, Ont.
First-time ORDC entrants Travis Henry and Colin Kelly each come into Wednesday's competition riding waves of momentum.
Travis Henry leads the province and the country in driving wins this calendar year with 129 victories as of press time. The Embro, Ont. resident is also the current dash leader among drivers at Western Fair for the current year, with 79 wins over the London half-miler since January 1.
Colin Kelly was the top driver in 2021 at two of Ontario's racetracks -- Grand River Raceway and Western Fair. His 278 tallies in 2021 ranked him second in the country, and he's currently second among drivers at Western Fair this season for win percentage (18.7%) and UDRS (0.348)
Trot Insider asked Henry (TH) and Kelly (CK) a number of questions in advance of the Ontario Regional.
What were your thoughts when you got the call to participate in the Ontario Regional Driving Championship?
TH: I kind of forgot about it because it hasn't happened in a while. I was told that a couple of years ago I was possibly on the fringe of being asked if somebody didn't want to go but, you know, I never really thought of it...but it's definitely cool.
CK: I was super excited! It’s very exciting to get a chance to be in something like this.
What are your thoughts on driving with the eight other guys in the championship?
CK: The other guys are all great drivers so it should be an exciting night of racing.
TH: They're all great drivers, and they all do a good job. I've driven with all of them and you know everybody's going to be trying to win. It'll be tough either way, but it'll be a fun experience that's for sure.
Do you think you have any advantage over the other drivers?
CK: Racing most nights in London through the week could be an advantage, and the guys that race there nightly may know the horses a bit better than the regulars from Mohawk.
TH: I don't think I have an advantage over Brett or Colin or, you know, the guys that have been driving those horses are racing against them. I think maybe the only advantage we would have is that we kind of know the horses and stuff like that.
Are you doing anything to prep for the Ontario Regional Driving Championship?
TH: I looked at the program and you can kind of see how you think the race is gonna go, but it rarely goes how you think it's going to go. So you always have to go in with a Plan A and a B and a C, if you have to.
CK: No just a regular week nothing special to do for prepping.
Anything special that you are looking forward to about the Ontario Regional Driving Championship?
CK: Really looking forward to just having a great night of racing. It should be a great competition; I am really looking forward to it.
TH: The opportunity to be a part of this is something to look forward to, but I'm going to approach it like it's another night of racing.
How does it feel to have the opportunity to represent your province in the Regional Driving Championship and possibly represent Canada in 2023 World Driving Championship in Italy?
TH: I haven't thought that far into it yet. I don't like to get ahead of myself...If I have to think about it, you know, obviously it would be a pleasure and it would be awesome to do.
CK: The whole event is just awesome, and to represent the province for my first time in the regional is a pretty cool situation to be in. It would be so awesome to travel and go see that side of the world and it would be a huge privilege to represent Canada in the WDC.
First race post time for Wednesday's card of harness racing is 5:50 p.m. Henry and Kelly will compete against Trevor Henry, Brett MacDonald, James MacDonald, Bob McClure, Doug McNair, Louis-Philippe Roy and Austin Sorrie in the ORDC. The nine drivers will participate in nine competition races. Each race will have a field of eight and each driver will compete in eight races, drive from every post position, and sit out for one race.
Drivers will receive points based on their finishing position and the top two drivers from the nine-race competition will join six other drivers at the 2022 National Driving Championship (NDC) at Century Mile Racetrack in Edmonton, Alberta.
The winner of the 2022 NDC will have the opportunity to represent Canada in the 2023 World Driving Championship in Italy.
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 (eg. 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).