Rene Allard is bursting with enthusiasm to see the horses bust out of the starting gate for the Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer.
“This is the most exciting time of the year for me,’’ says Allard in anticipation of the 60th running of the iconic harness race.
“I just love to be here.’’
Allard has trained the winning horse three of the last five years, including Big Town Hero in 2014, YS Lotus in 2016 and Somewhere Fancy last year.
Trials will be held on Saturday and Monday leading up to the final on Saturday, Aug. 17.
Trial positions were drawn Tuesday with Somewhere Fancy getting the number two slot in Trial 1. A second horse trained by Allard – Bet On Breath – is in the third spot in Trial 2.
Allard says he marvels at how heartily the Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer is embraced by locals and visitors alike.
“It gives me butterflies just to hear how people really, truly care about harness racing here,’’ he says.
“I travel the world and you don’t see it as much in other places…it’s just the love for the horses and the love for the game and how much people just truly love harness racing here – and I think that makes me want to be here every year just to see the excitement in everybody’s eyes.’’
He adds competing in the Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer for him is about passion, not money.
“We won the cup (last year) but by the time we got home we were in the hole,’’ he says.
“So, we don’t come here for the money, but we have an amazing time.’’
Race manager Adam Walsh describes the annual event, which features 13 racing programs in nine days, as a top entertainment attraction in Canada and considered by many to be the most prestigious harness race in the country.
“The trophy presented to the winning Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer driver will be presented as the Michael MacDonald memorial trophy which started in 2018 in honor of a gentleman who currently holds the record for most victories, most appearances and a longtime ambassador of the Gold Cup and Saucer,’’ says Walsh.
“I would like to give thanks in advance to the owners and trainers who have entered their horses into The Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer. Without the support from the locally owned horses from off Island this event would not be possible.’’
Colin Sly, regional sales manager at SaltWire Network, says The Guardian is “incredibly proud’’ to partner with Red Shores for such a “world class event.’’
Premier Dennis King announced the first Premier’s Breakfast on Aug. 13 to show appreciation towards the harness racing industry in the province.
He called the ongoing success of the Guardian Gold Cup and Saucer “a beacon of hope’’ for harness racing in Atlantic Canada.