Don't you worry about good ole 'Trapper Mac'! The Inverness native is still racking up winners like a harness racing driver a third of his age. 'Trapper' is 63-year-old Alex Macquarrie - the Cape Breton Islander who has notched up 1,065 career winners and racked up a further 143 more as a trainer.
In fact Trapper added another two driving successes to his tally at Inverness Raceway yesterday (Sunday July 10) when he saluted the judge behind Father Ted and Jewel Thats Me. Richard Mullins trains the former while Jewel Thats Me hails from Macquarrie’s barn.
Trapper also recorded two seconds behind Cards N Whiskey and Nocdown Jack from five race-day drives.
“I’ve only got two horses in my stable but I still do a lot of catch-driving for friends and my older brother Angus. He owns Jewel Thats Me. I love harness racing – it’s well and truly entrenched in my blood. It’s been my main source of income for nearly 50 years,” Trapper said.
But the well liked horseman, who is a former Inverness driving champion, knows his days in the sulky could be up within a year or two.
“I’m getting close to pension age and that’s when I’ll probably give driving away and maybe just potter around with one or two. It will be hard saying goodbye but time catches up on everyone,” Trapper told Harnesslink.
“In saying that there’s not too many young drivers coming through out this way,” he added.
Trapper was given his nickname by an old Inverness local more than half a century ago.
“I was just a young kid and some old guy sitting outside a restaurant came up to me and asked me if I could trap a couple of rabbits for him.
“I duly obliged and I'm now I’m telling you it’s been 50 years since I last hurt an animal. Inflicting pain on horses or any of God’s creatures just isn’t my style,” he said.
Trapper was born and raised in Inverness which is located on the west coast of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The Island fronts the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
His father enjoyed racing but his older brother was the one who raced and owned them. When Trapper left school he worked for a couple of Maritime trainers including the legendary Canadian horseman Phil Pinkney.
Pinkney, a former O’Brien winner for Horsemanship, earned a reputation of being one of the finest developers of young horses in Atlantic Canada.
In a career spanning six decades Pinkney is still going strong having driven 1,650 winners and trained 392 training victories.
“I learnt a lot of Phil. He’s a living legend. I even worked for him down at the Meadowlands for a few years in the mid-1970s before returning home to set up my own stable in Cape Breton in 1979,” Trapper said.
Since 1977 Trapper has had 7,337 career drives, 1,065 wins, 2,043 placings and won $472,219 in purses. His best year was in 1989 when he won 100 races and $33,083.
So far in 2011 he has won 12 times from 51 drives and also placed on 18 occasions.
“There’s nothing like driving. Even after all these years in the sulky I still get a big thrill every time I go out on to the track. It’s a great way to earn a living,” Trapper said.
Trapper drives at Inverness from May until October and for four to five months of the year he works for the Labours Union at the Fort McQuarrie Alberta Oil Sands.
“I’ve been doing that for several years now and it supports my income. Personally I haven’t struck oil yet but that day will come,” Trigger joked.
Asked what the best horse he had driven was, Trigger replied:
“Luke Stallwalker. I trained and drove him. He was agelding and he recorded my fastest mile of 1:57.3. That gelding won 37 races for me and almost $100,000. He stands out as my best.
“He also won some of the bigger local races as well. The Frank McGuiness Memorial is one race that sticks in my mind.”
Trigger says his career would not have been made possible had it not been for his long-time love, Willena.
“She’s the love of my life and we have been together for 17 years now. I might propose to her soon. We went to a nephew’s wedding on Saturday so it might be our turn next year – you never know,” Trigger said.
Watch this space. Good on ya mate - you made my day with this interview!
By Duane RANGER (editor)
(1) Racing at Inverness Raceway:
(2) Imagery of Cape Breton island
(3) Trapper Macquarrie’s good mate Phil Pinkney winning at Truro Raceway: