Day At The Track

In the Race Paddock with Bob McClure

06:10 AM 07 Jan 2014 NZDT
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Bob McClure
Bob McClure
It started at a very young age, spending time with his cousin on the family farm working and racing horses. By the age of 12, Bob McClure knew being a harness driver was his career of choice.
Sure, as he matured and grew, Bob had a contingency plan of working in the construction industry, but only if he had to, not because he wanted to. Bob wanted to be a top flight harness driver and so far he is working hard achieving his goal.

Bob is a third generation horseman, and his uncle Jim McClure is another top harness driver in Ontario amassing over 4000 wins throughout his career. Certainly Bob will one day pass his uncle's win total and further adding to the legacy of the McClure family.

"I am the type of person to never sit still." says Bob. "I always keep myself busy and anything I do, I like to do it well". One can attest to that as Bob has raced at 11 different raceways, (Meadowlands, Sarnia, Flamboro, Grand River, Hanover, Clinton to name a few), and he is only 23. His passion for harness racing has increased over the years and nothing bigger was when Bob won his first race at Meadowlands. "It's been the biggest time of my life, Southwind Vavoom was a strong horse and when I pulled the plugs going into the stretch, the horse took off."

"As the wire drew near and we crossed the finish I saw Tim Tetrick right beside me, I couldn't believe it, we won by a nose. I was so pumped when we got to the winners circle, it's a feeling I will never forget"

What a win to have by the age of 20. "Looking back at the time, I didn't appreciate the horse. I was a new driver making mistakes, but no matter what I did, Southwind Vavoom knew what to do." It's a definite learning opportunity Bob had and now it seems with every race, he appreciates all of it more and more. The horses, fellow drivers, the words of wisdom passed on to him from his uncle Jim.

"My uncle always told me to be positive and give off positivity, never be negative. Sometimes you have a bad race, but you need to get over it and do your best. As well, I always want to tell the trainers and (patrons) that I tried my best. We race horses and I do my best to put them in the proper positions to win."

Sometimes Bob admits it's hard to get over tough races, he ponders about possible mistakes and how he could have handled the situation differently. It shows he's a man of good conscious, in today's era where many people shrug things off and blame others, it is mightily refreshing to hear someone admit to a mistake yet in the same breath you know it was made in good faith and with positive intentions. We all live ....we all learn.

As a new driver, even though Bob comes from a horse racing family, he still has to work for it. "As the new kid on the block (in the driver's lounge), you have to stand up for yourself and not let anyone push you around. At times there are feuds, but we get over it quick. We race horses, not each other, so there is a mutual respect between drivers."

If by chance Bob is not having a good night at the races, you can anticipate him throwing out his goggles and gloves, even if they are new. Bob openly says he is superstitious, "If I have a new pair of goggles, gloves or even a whip and I am not winning, I will throw them all out. Even getting to Flamboro I have a route that I always take. There's several ways to get there, but I have to go my way." If not, he agrees he will be "upset all night".

What is Bob's path for 2014? "To be a top 10 driver at Flamboro. The last three months of 2013 was unbelievable, I had some powerful stables behind me and it really helped my career. To be a top ten driver at Flamboro is difficult. There are 10 good drivers sitting on the couch for every race. It has to be one of the strongest driving colonies outside of Mohawk/Woodbine."

There is no doubt in my mind, in the near future when looking at a race program at Mohawk, you will see the name 'Bob McClure' listed to drive horses in stake races. Meadowlands was where he won his first 'big' race, but who knows, he could be the winning driver of the Hambletonian in 2015, or 2016 or both. The possibilities are endless and when you see someone who has so much drive and passion for what they love, it only leads to great things, wonderful memories and milestones.

by Roderick Balgobin for the Supernova Sports Club   Twitter: @ScSupernova


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