And the winners are …at Saturday nights Quebec Gala des Champions held virtually at the Hippodrome 3R.
What a party! What a Gala! What class! What pictures! And a host Guy Lafontaine who carried the animation on his shoulders in a very professional way. 2020 has taken H3R to another level in terms of broadcasting. Well done to the technical team and to Ms. Murielle Thomassin, Director of Racing Operations at H3R, for orchestrating this unforgettable season.
Trainer of the Year
Some might argue that it is easy to rack up the wins when a trainer has several top horses in his stable. But others will argue that twelve horses often equal twelve problems. Francis's winning recipe in 2020 was the same: a lot of teamwork, he will be the first to say it. A job that is so demanding that his stable is made up mostly of young horses, often just starting out. The lessons learned in Ontario from David Menary will have once again served Francis in the difficult art of bringing horses to the photographer. This is the fourth straight year that Francis has been the leading trainer at H3R.
Driver of the Year
Pascal's background serves him well and makes him one of the most popular drivers of a wide variety of trainers and owners. This is what sets him apart from many of his colleagues: he drives horses from almost all stables with equal success. In addition, he is second to none when it comes to throwing his horses in front of the peloton and especially advancing them under the wire. Widely favorite horses, he doesn’t drive dozens and that’s his strength:in getting the best out of each of his mounts. A great and beautiful year for him in 2020.
Rookie of the Year
At the end of the 2019 season, when Samuel finally obtained his license to drive in professional races, was difficult. The victories did not come, his nervousness was palpable. Until the start of this season and a notable win with DJ Power, he is off to a good start, with a season that has elevated him to the best at H3R. And it’s not over yet, you can say. With more and more drives for top teams, Samuel has acquired great experience which serves him better and better. He is also learned from the best as he is a brother-in-law of driving greats Louis-Philippe Roy and Pierre Luc Roy.
Groom of the Year
Behind every great man, they say, hides a woman who makes him great! The Marc-André Simoneau team can be counted lucky to have this rare pearl in its ranks, in Wendy St-Pierre. The tireless, competent, passionate Wendy is, with talent and skill recognized by her peers. When we think of the success of the Simoneau team, we inevitably think of the skill and dedication of Marc-André's wife, Wendy. A groom, who makes all these little things that go unnoticed but make a difference.
Breeder of the Year
Great year for the Kinnder Stable! Not one, but two Quebec finals champions, and a track record in the books for the 3-year-old filly Kinnder High Class and an undefeated 2YO season for Kinnder Dangerzone! Kinnder has become, thanks to the flair and hard work of its leader, a winning and high quality trademark. And the future looks even brighter, if possible, with Denitza's acquisition of sire Northern Escort, who has been the source of many of the team's successes in the past. Better still, thanks to this acquisition, breeders in the Quebec province will also be able to benefit from this champion line.
Trotter of the Year
Kinnder High Class
10 (7-1-1) $ 52,933, record 1.58.1
Denitza Petrova stable
Denitza Petrova's top filly, skillfully driven by Pierre-Luc Roy and later by Samuel Fillion, was a serious contender for this title by virtue of her eight victories, all won before our eyes, including the one won in the Quebec Championship final which earned her a track record, 1.58. 1. A remarkable progression for this Chestnut blonde girl from Royalty For Life, whose mane flapping in the wind, has gone viral. In 2019, in seven small starts, no victory, but as it often happens with trotters, second hand, explosion, blossoming of a talent that the most discerning observers had had a hunch about. She was also the winningest horse at H3R this sason.
Pacer of the Year
7 (7-0-0) $ 11,950 1.54.3
Determination Stable – Guy Corbeil
Trainer: Maxime Velaye
Driver: Stéphane Gendron
The incredible story of this pacemaker will have struck everyone's mind, not only at H3R but also across Canada, as he continued in Toronto, his winning streak to 11 wins and a record 1.49.4. A worthy son of Somebeachsomewhere, paid $260,000 as a yearling, his career was going nowhere until he ended up with Guy Corbeil. There, they cured his colic problems and waited patiently for the blossoming of his talent that no one thought was very big. And that is precisely what happened. With remarkable patience and skill, he was instilled with confidence and the results were evident.
Owner of the Year
Brian Paquet's history with horses goes back several decades. Breeder and owner, he has made his trademark, the Panics, a proud standard. Each year, a good half-dozen of the product of his breeding arrives in the races, often in the stable of his trusted man, Francis Richard. Who says breeding, says inexact science and Mr. Paquet faces the good as well as the less good with the phlegm that characterizes him. A golden owner, said Francis Richard. An owner who gives each horse the chance to show off.
Personality of the Year
The tragedy experienced this year by Dominique and her husband Daniel Martin is difficult to measure as the impact of this cardiovascular accident was significant and the consequences of which are still difficult to measure. This brave Dominic faced the storm with courage, resilience, sometimes stoicism. The appointment to this prestigious title, the leaders of the Quebec Jockey Club hope that it will serve as an encouragement for the future, because, one can imagine, the road of Dominique will be still difficult for the months to come. This appointment wishes to salute her immense courage which arouses the admiration of all horse people.
by Daniel Delisle, for the Quebec Jockey Club