Every harness racing stable throughout the world has unsung heroes who do the hard yards at weird hours, carrying out those unmentionable little jobs that ultimately lead to the well-being and smooth running of each barn.
Ashley Gamestar is one of those people. She loves horses -the 19-year-old Prince Edward Islander always has. Gamestar would love to spend the rest of her life working with standardbreds but she's a realist.
"I've been working in a stable since I left Bluefield High School, but I have realised it's difficult for a young person starting out to make a full-time living out of harness racing - here in Charlottetown.
"That's why I'm going to study to be a dental assistant in the fall," Gamestar told Harnesslink.
However, deep down horses will always be a priority.
"One day I want to have my own stable but it is important I undertake this 14-month dental course first in order to have money to live my dream and something to fall back on.
"I'll still be doing the horses at the same time," Gamestar insisted.
Gamestar's grandfather Byron trained a team of about 25 horses and when she was young she used to help him as much as she could.
"We used to live next door to my grandfather and right from an early age I fell in love with horses. When I got older I did Western style riding for a while, but got sick of that and couldn't wait till I was old enough to work in a harness racing stable," Charlottetown-born Gamestar said.
Six months before she graduated from High School Gamestar worked for Summerside trainer Terry Gallant. She stayed with him for two-and-a-half years before joining Mitch Tierney's Cornwall stable last October.
Gamestar has driven twice - but only has desires to be a trainer.
"Driving doesn't interest me at all. I'd rather leave that to the professionals who know what they are doing. Harness racing is in my blood and training is the best way to fulfill my passion for the sport."
And Gamestar is no mug either. She was recognised by Summerside Raceway last year being named "Horsewoman-of-the-Year".
Her young pacer, Howdidchado was also named 2-year-old Colt-of-the-Year.
Gamestar has owned five horses in her short career - two with Gallant and three with Tierney. Four have been sold and her only racing interest now is French-bred 6-year-oldgelding - Artiste Duharas, who has won three races and placed 12 times.
The Tierney trained bay has drawn seven of eight in a $3,000 claiming pace at Charlottetown Driving Park this Thursday (August 11).
But it was the Gallant trained Outlawpositivcharg that Gamestar described as the best horse she had ever been involved with.
"He's been a fabulous Free-For-All horse for four years now and even though he's seven he's still knocking on the door. I love him so much. He's a great little pacer and that's why he is my profile photo on Facebook," Gamestar said.
Outlawpositivcharg accomplished a feat that no other horse had achieved in the 41-year history of the Governors Plate during Summerside Raceways double-header, during Lobster Carnival Week in July 2009.
The then 5-year-old son ofbecame the first horse to win Summerside's signature race two years in a row. Trained and driven by Gallant, Outlawpositivcharg rolled through panels of :27.2, :56.3 and 1:27 while overcoming early challenges put forth by Porthill Alf (Mike Stevenson) and Take The Risk (Allan Smith).
Outlawpositivcharg, the second choice to Dr. Ian Moore's, stopped the clock in 1:56.3 to win the lion's share of the $16,000 purse.
See video below.
Gamestar also rated the Tierney trained Waiting On A Woman as one of the best trotters she had been involved with.
"Up until his last start third at Woodstock last Wednesday (August 3) he had won his last 10 starts in a row. He holds three or four track records and is a really nice trotter. I love him too," Gamestar said.
Before signing off Gamestar wanted to pay a tribute to those close to her.
"I would not be living my dream if it wasn't for my family and Terry and Mitch who have both given me work. I also have the best friends in the world. I'm so lucky to be doing what I love and I have them all to thank for that," Gamestar stressed.
She also wanted people to know the following prophecy that she lived by:
"A wise horseman once told me that horses are not just a hobby or a business, but a passion.
"A passion that runs deep in your soul, and no matter how hard someone or something tries to surpass that . . . the passion always brings you back.
By Duane RANGER (editor)
(1) Outlawpositivcharg (see story) winning at Summerside Raceway on July 18, 2007:
(2) Waiting On A Woman extending his winning streak to nine with a 16-length romp at Summerside Raceway on July 12, 2011: