When it was all said and done the Alberta Community Thoroughbred Racing Association's Awards Night was more than folks expected.
ACTRA was bang on with its outstanding Horse Person of the Year in saluting Marv Christensen.
The Taber horseman has been giving to the sport and to the Rocky Mountain Turf Club for many years. He has loaned his large track grooming equipment at a moments notice to the RMTC and has aided and assisted horsemen in many ways. As well Marv, who was one of the original investors in the RMTC, and his family have been running and training top horses for over a decade at the Lethbridge racetrack.
Lining up right behind Marv in the spotlight was owner-trainer Lyle Magnuson. The list of Lyle's achievements for 2014 is outstanding.
He was named the RMTC Trainer of the Year, the most supportive trainer and the top trainer for the Spring and Fall meets in 2014. As well he was the leading trainer at Evergreen Park in Grande Prairie.
Then there's his horses.
He trained the top 2014 Claiming Female, Hey Italian Lady, for the RMTC Stables as well as Button Em Up, the 2014 Older Female. He also had the RMTC Stables' He's Italian, the 2014 Alberta Bred Older Male.
"Yes, I had a good season," said the 62-year-old horseman, who trains his own horses and for RMTC CEO Max Gibb and Jacqueline Smith. "I was galloping horses 10 to 15 a day preparing for the opening of this year's Spring Meet. When I get to old to gallop them myself, I guess that's when I won't be training horses any more."
"When you gallop a horse yourself you know what they are like and how they run."
Lyle has been involved with horses since he was 12 years of age and he's been running with ACTRA for over half a dozen years.
"It's hard to say what will happen this year, its always a competition out there. I train a lot of my own horses and I put them in wherever I want.
Crowding into the spotlight with Marv and Lyle were the Wiest boys, with the father and trainer Rick.
Rick owns and trains the Horse of the Year Careless Hunter - who started out 2015 with a win - and saw the horse win honours as the Older Male Champion. As well, Careless Hunter was the 2014 ACTRA Champion and the 2014 High Point Male. Rick also trained the winning 2014 three- year-old Female, Time To Be A Hero.
As well Rick trained the three-year-old Champion Male, Shootitinthebush.
Veteran trainer Pete Dubois had The King Of The Bush with General Gabe who also took the Claiming Male award. Pete trained Bar None Ranches' Sassy Silver, the leading Alberta-Bred Filly for 2014.
As well Pete was the trainer of the top Alberta-Bred three-year-old male, Blazing Temper.
Trainer Angelle Carter proved she has the stuff to run with the best
Angelle owns and trains Star Catcher, the 2014 Alberta-Bred Filly as well as the top Alberta- Bred Claiming Female. She also has the top Alberta-Bred three-year-old female, Smile Lee, who was also the 2014 Alberta-Bred Champion Female. And once again its Smile Lee, this time as the 2014 Champion Sprint Female.
Angelle was smiling yet again when Smile Lee was named the 2014 High Points Female.
Ken Williams trained Hawkers Gate, the Alberta-Bred Aged Male champion. Hawkers Gate was also named the 2014 Alberta-Bred Claiming Male and the big horse won the Older Male honours as well.
The 2014 two-year-old champion was Saint Warlock, trained by Riley Rycroft. The pairing also won the 2014 Alberta-Bred two-year-old Male honours. Riley also saw Saint Warlock win the 2014 Alberta-Bred Champion Male award.
Larris Allen grabbed the bulk of the riding awards, being named the RMTC Jockey of the Year, and leading rider at the Evergreen track in Grande Prairie. He was also the RMTC top jockey in the 2014 Fall Meet.
Leading rider for the Spring Meet was Trevor Simpson.
The top RMTC Apprentice Jockey Kaylan McCarty.
One of the major awards of the night was the 2014 Breeder of the Year and it went to the prestigious Bar None Ranches.
Sizzano, trained by Bob Gwilliam, took home the Alberta-Bred Aged Mare Award.
Rollingson Racing Stables and trainer Laurie Ferguson saw Freshside earn the Older Female Champion award.
A smiling Nellie Pigeau, trainer of Bargain Buy, saw the horse earn the Queen Of The Bush honours.
RMTC CEO Max Gibb told the gathering 2014 was a good year and he hopes to see purses get higher in 2015.
I look forward to an amazing future for horse racing," Gibb stated.