The field for the 2016 Western Regional Driving Championship, scheduled for Sunday, June 26 at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino has been confirmed.
The participating drivers are:
- Travis Cullen
- Phil Giesbrecht
- Mike Hennessy
- Dave Kelly
British Columbia Drivers
- Brandon Campbell
- Paul Davies
- Jim Marino
- Don Howlett
This is the first time the Western Regional has been hosted in Alberta. In 2014, Fraser Downs in Surrey, BC presented the qualifying event which was won by Brandon Campbell, who advanced to the National Championship along with runner-up Jim Marino.
“We are looking forward to hosting this event at Century Downs,” said Jackson Wittup, Racing Secretary for Century Downs, “We’ve got a good mix of veteran talent combined with some new younger faces. I believe that the average age of the eight drivers is the youngest we’ve ever had in Regional competitions.” Six of the eight drivers are under 35 years of age, and the youngest driver is 23-year-old Travis Cullen.
Drivers will receive points based on their finishing position and the top two drivers from the eight-race competition will join six other drivers at the 2016 National Driving Championship scheduled for Friday, October 14 at The Raceway at Western Fair District, in London, Ontario.
The draw for the Western Regional will be an “open” draw as approved by Horse Racing Alberta. Any participating drivers who enter horses that they train and or own for any of the Regional Driving Champonship Races fully understand that they may not end up drawing their own horses to drive in the RDC races.
“I would like to thank Horse Racing Alberta for allowing us to have an “open draw” as it now becomes a true Drivers Challenge. I think the competition will be very interesting to both the racing industry and the handicappers for this one day change to the rules,” commented Wittup, “Good luck to all participants and I look forward to seeing who goes to the National Championship in London in October.”
Invitations were extended to drivers based on several criteria including their 2015-16 win statistics on their circuit. Drivers also had to confirm their availability for the National Driving Championship date and the World Driving Championship dates in order to take part in the Regional Driving Championship
The winner of the NDC will represent Canada in harness racing's 2017 World Driving Championship, hosted by Standardbred Canada in concert with the World Trotting Conference in August.