Harness racing driver Louis-Philippe Roy won the final two races to secure victory in the Ontario Regional Driving Championship on Wednesday at The Raceway at Western Fair District.
Roy finished 19 points clear of fellow Woodbine Mohawk Park regular Doug McNair in a tight contest. By finishing top two, both have booked a place in the National Driving Championship (NDC) in November.
Roy started slowly, sitting eighth of nine reinsmen in the points-based ranking system after three of the competition’s nine dashes. The Mont-Joli native vaulted into contention in the fourth leg thanks to a bold steer and monumental effort from his charge No Time At All, who never saw the pylons but gave everything to win in 1:55.3 after scratching in as an also eligible.
McNair joined the conversation soon after, winning legs five and six for 30 total points as Roy picked up 17 in the same stretch. The pair were tied with 50 points each and 2017 World Driving Champion James MacDonald six points back going into the final two races.
Roy effectively seized the competition in the 10th race as he gave his 12-1 shot Dabunka a pocket ride behind McNair’s favoured Go Mud, who led every step but the last as Dabunka squeezed by on the wire to win by a nose in 1:57.
With McNair taking his enforced bye in the final leg, Roy put Willywin on the engine and repelled Run Like Hill (Colin Kelly) in the final quarter to win in 1:57.2 and clinch the competition and a spot in the NDC. McNair will also receive a place in the NDC for finishing second in the ORDC standings. The winner of the Canadian NDC will represent the country at the 2023 World Driving Championship in Italy.
ROY / WILLYWIN REPLAY
Roy said he was “pretty excited” to earn the place in his on-track interview, especially after being unable to attend the NDC despite qualifying once before. He said seeing McNair and MacDonald go on to qualify for the World Driving Championships instead of him caused “a little pinch.”
I’ll be happy to be competing in the Canadian Driving Championship,” he said after the final race. “And I think Doug (McNair) was second in there, so that’ll be also good competition. He’s a great driver and it’s always good to compete against him.”
Roy also expressed his enjoyment of the evening and eagerness to return for the Camluck Classic with his regular mount Jimmy Freight on May 27.
“It was a very fun day,” Roy said. “The weather was great, the track was great, and I was lucky – the horses I was driving were great too. So that was definitely a good day and I’m excited also for the Camluck (Classic), I saw we confirmed Jimmy Freight is going to be in. He’s definitely my favourite horse, (and we’re) going to go here on a track that I really like too, so that’ll be exciting at the end of the month.”
Final ORDC standings:
1. Louis-Philippe Roy – 79
2. Doug McNair – 60
3. Colin Kelly – 49
4. James MacDonald – 45
5. Brett MacDonald – 44
6. Travis Henry – 40
7. Bob McClure – 36
8. Austin Sorrie – 34
9. Trevor Henry – 33
The ORDC is the first of four regional championships that will determine the NDC field. The Atlantic Regional, covering New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and P.E.I. is set for Saturday, Jun. 11 at Charlottetown. The Western Regional for British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba follows on Jun. 19 at Century Downs. The Quebec/Eastern Ontario Regional will the be the final contest on Jun. 26 at Hippodrome Trois-Rivieres, covering Kawartha Downs, Rideau Carleton, and Hippodrome 3R drivers.
Century Mile in Edmonton, Alta. will host the NDC on Thursday, Nov. 24.
For complete race results, click here.
by Nicholas Barnsdale, for Harnesslink