Jason Hughes, Corey MacPherson Advance To Nationals
Hughes kicked off the eight-race driving tournament with a victory aboard Sam ($4) in the first leg and later won the sixth leg with Cambest Kisser ($4.70). The 43-year-old Stratford, P.E.I. horseman maintained his lead in the point standings throughout, with top-three finishes in four other legs.
The 27-year-old MacPherson, of Vernon Bridge, P.E.I., sat out the first leg, but also drove a pair of winners during the regional event, with his first coming aboard I Am Able ($7.20) in the fourth leg. MacPherson climbed to second-place in the point standings and scored an unexpected seventh leg victory with Whosurwinner ($18.50) to narrow the gap on Hughes, who had sat out that leg but managed to maintain a slight lead going into the final race of the competition (53-51).
Hughes secured his position atop the Atlantic Regional standings with a second-place finish aboard Spirit Of America in the eighth and final leg behind Bazillion ($14.40) and Ed Harvey while MacPherson and Waterside Light finished fifth after challenging first over.
Hughes ended with 62 points to clinch the Atlantic Regional Driving Championship title while MacPherson held second with 54 points. Marc Campbell, who had tied for the lead after his second leg win aboard P H Little Cam ($7.70), finished in a dead heat for third with Walter Cheverie, both with 41 points. Harvey (37) , fellow leg winners Darren Crowe (33) and Paul Langille (30), and Gerard Kennedy (14) rounded out the competition. "All of the horses raced good. We had lots of fun here tonight, all the guys," said Hughes. "It was very competitive."
It was a big day for Hughes, whose stable won a total of five races on the Saturday program, including the $5,000 Cecil Ladner Memorial Invitational Pace with OK Galahad in 1:54.4. The five-year-old Badlands Hanover gelding is owned by Hughes' brother Robi and Foxyhall Racing of Wallace, N.S.
Hughes and MacPherson will move on to the National Driving Championship, which will be held on October 14 at The Raceway at Western Fair District in London, Ont. The winner of the National Driving Championship will represent Canada in the 2017 World Driving Championship, which will be hosted in Canada.
They will face off with the top two point-earners from each of the four regional competitions. Ontario Regional Driving Championship winner James MacDonald, also a P.E.I. native, and runner-up Trevor Henry will join them from Friday's competition, which was held at Grand River Raceway. The Western Regional will take place next at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino on Sunday, June 26 and the Quebec/Eastern Ontario Regional will be hosted by Hippodrome 3R on Tuesday, July 12.
OFFICIAL POINT TOTALS 1. Jason Hughes - 62 2. Corey MacPherson - 54 3. Marc Campbell - 41 3. Walter Cheverie - 41 5. Edward Harvey - 37 6. Darren Crowe - 33 7. Paul Langille - 30 8. Gerard Kennedy - 14
courtesy of Red Shores
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