McNair wins National Driving Championship with grand slam

Ontario harness racing representative Doug McNair won the 2022 National Driving Championship at the Century Mile on Thursday (November 24), earning himself a spot in the 2023 World Driving Championship in Europe.

The 2017 Canadian Driver of the Year went flush, leading from the first race with a quick one-two to start the competition. David Kelly trailed him with a pair of him in the mid-card, but McNair secured the title with back-to-back wins in races eight and nine. The full grand slam gave him 84 points to Kelly’s 59 and made the final academic.

It was deja vu for McNair, who also won the 2018 National Driving Championship with four victories. In his 2022 triumph, he took revenge on Ontario driving champion Louis-Philippe Roy and defeated former national driving champion Gilles Barrieau. He finished with 91 points.

McNair will now represent Canada in the 2023 World Driving Championship.

The final classification is: McNair 91; Kelly 69; Berubé 46; Ro 41; Campbells 35; Barieau 33.5; Fillion 31; Hennessy 29.5.

Below is a race-by-race recap of the action.

Race 10

Marc Campbell salvaged a consolation win after going into the final race in eight out of eight. He grinded the score with Blue Who (Blue burner), who pocketed after blocking the first over in the third quarter. The gelding then rallied to pass Custards Dragon and runner-up David Kelly to win in 1:54.3.

Riders finishing order: Campbell-Kelly-McNair-Berube-Fillion-Roy-Hennessy-Barrieau.


Race 9

Doug McNair became the 2022 National Driving Champion in style, completing the grand slam and booking his spot in the Canadian colors with captain Mike Deo (Traitor Captain). She was patient with the sophomore gelding, occupying the three holes for much of the mile and in the stretch. She found daylight in traffic and Captain Mike Deo blasted late to reach Grampian Road (Fillion) for the title win in 1:57.4.

Riders finishing order: McNair-Fillion-Kelly-Hennessy-Roy-Campbell-Berube-Barrieau (DQ;3p8).


Race 8

Doug McNair grabbed a clutch win heading into the closing stages to add some edge to his dwindling lead. On board Litizor (Vertical horizon), the reinsman sat fourth behind the swapped leaders and continued the march as the field fixed on the final corner. Litizor rounded the bend two widths wide and reached the top in the last eighth of a mile. Lui then held off Tajmania (Roy) to seal the victory in 1:55.3.

Riders finishing order: McNair-Roy-Barrieau-Hennessy-Berube-Kelly-Campbell-Fillion.


Race 7

David Kelly doubled up and got into serious contention in front of his home crowd as he executed a successful call-and-response from the seventh post with Suellen Hanover (Punters delight). After trailing third in the first half, Kelly ordered the filly to top. She reached her target quickly and refused to give up for the rest, flying to the finish three lengths best under wraps in 1:57.2.

Riders finishing order: Kelly-Roy-McNair-Berube-Fillion-Barrieau/Hennessy (DH)-Campbell.


Race 6

Pascal Berube flew the fleur-de-lis for Quebec with sure rudder aboard Light My Shadow (Chinese shadows). He jumped first from third at halfway and attacked the leader Promising Flight (Louis-Philippe Roy). Enemies fought on equal terms in the stretch and Promising Flight started to pull away in the last eighth of a mile. He was one and a half lengths better than the last Bohannon (Kelly) in 1:55.2.

Riders finishing order: Berube-Kelly-McNair-Roy-Barrieau-Hennessy-Fillion-Campbell.


Race 5

Dave Kelly’s bold four-wide move in the home round gave him his first NDC win and launched him into second in the table. The Alberta local, who filled in for Rod Therres at the last minute, rode Blue Powder (Blue burner) onto cover for a third time on the backstretch before swinging the gelding widest of all. The five-year-old straightened up for home in second and raced across the stretch to defeat Subzero pacer and NDC leader Doug McNair en route to a 1:54.4 victory.

Riders finishing order: Kelly-McNair-Campbell-Fillion-Hennessy-Roy-Berube-Barrieau.


Race 4

McNair landed a double dunk as he and Oriental Express (Mystical) achieved victory from the front. He removed the mare from third as the field entered the backstretch and revved her to the engine in the second panel. It was light work for the reinsman in the stretch as the five-year-old sailed to a victory by two and a half lengths in 1:57.4.

Riders finishing order: McNair-Berube-Barrieau-Roy-Campbell-Hennessy-Kelly-Fillion.


Race 3

A Great Effort by Jayden Riley (Lambretta) gave Ontarian Doug McNair the first call into the NDC. The driver gave the lead to the five-year-old mare, who tangled with Gold Onthehorizon (Michael Hennessy) from mid to finish. The latter briefly eclipsed the former in two places but Jayden Riley dug deep down the lane to recover the front to score by three quarters of a length in 1:56.3.

Riders finishing order: McNair-Barrieau-Kelly-Hennessy-Fillion-Berube-Campbell-Roy


For full race results, Click here.

from Nicholas Barnsdalefor Harnesslink

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