Marc Campbell on why he's staying grounded

03:04 AM 21 Apr 2014 NZST
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Marc Campbell, harness racing Marc Campbell, harness racing Escape The News, harness racing
Marc Campbell gets hoisted by friends after winning the Gold Cup & Saucer
A muddy Marc Campbell celebrates his driving title
Escape The News and Marc Campbell win the Gold Cup & Saucer in 2013
Photo by Gail MacDonald
Marc Campbell's winning drive in the 2013 Gold Cup and Saucer is by far one of his most memorable victories. Marc guided Escape the News (trained by Ron Burke), to victory in a staggering 1:50.4 to set the track record at Charlottetown Driving Park.

"I drove the horse, (Escape the News) the week before the trial and I was half expecting them (the people that brought the horse up to PEI), to tell me how to drive. I had no idea what to expect" says Marc. "The only thing I got told was he is kind of lazy.... I love those horses so it was perfect.

"I love those big grinding, kind of lazy horses. I like to make them work." Marc notes. "For some reason I get along with them and as soon as I heard that, I was pretty excited. Some people wouldn't be, but I was."

After winning the trial, Escape the News drew the 7th spot, "It took the pressure off me and put it on the other guys." Marc explains.

Marc, 29, is grateful to the racing manager at the time, Brett Revington, who suggested Marc's name and reputation as a good driver to the Burke stable for helping Marc land the opportunity to drive Escape the News.

If it were not for Marc's grandfather, Charles MacDonald, perhaps Marc would never have grown into the horsemen he is today. Charles MacDonald taught his grandson that hard work and understanding the importance of quality work was the essence to success.

Marc also had his two uncles, Jimmy and Michael MacDonald to help guide him as well; ensuring his hard work would pay off.

"I started at an early age, my grandfather had horses and my uncles were into horses and helped get me into it." Marc explains. "I was raised by my grandfather and my mom and two brothers, (Shawn Campbell and Robby MacDonald), lived with my grandparents."

"My mom, Jeanie, loves racing right now and she goes to all my races but growing up she wasn't really into it, she knew we had horses. She's a huge fan right now and loves going to the track now." Marc says.

"My grandfather is the whole reason I drive and train... working at the barn with him, he was a real special guy to me. He's the one who started taking me to the track" say Marc. "It was with him I jogged my first horse. He dragged me or I dragged him to the track. I started driving matinee (amateur) races when I was 14 years old. He put the gas in the truck and took me where I had to get to."

Growing up, Charles MacDonald would buy older horses to help teach Marc how to properly care and tend to the horse's needs. "You take care of the animal and they'll take care of you" Marc says. "They weren't expensive, but it taught you how to work from the bottom up." In essence, the value Marc was taught was to never take anything for granted.

A fond recollection Marc has is being at his first Gold Cup and Saucer race in 1994 when he was ten with his grandfather. "I remember trying to hang on to the fence so I can see over the fence to see the race and I remember the crowd." Mark recalls, "I was lucky to grow up watching the Gold Cup and Saucer and I drove in it twice before last year and to actually win it was special."

'The best thing about my grandfather is he treated everybody the same. It didn't matter how much money you have or you didn't have, he treated everybody equally. I try to learn from that, he was a pretty amazing guy." Marc watched how his grandfather worked and interacted with others since Charles MacDonald was the quiet type, the type of person who led by example.

With Marc, you can hear the heartfelt emotion rise the more he spoke of his grandfather. Unfortunately Marc's grandfather passed away a few years ago. "That was pretty hard to get through but we did it with thanks to my wife, and she helped me keep battling.... She's always in my corner."

Marc is married to Natasha, going on seven happy years, (although they've been an item for 12 years) and they have three kids, their son Landon who is six, Allie who will be five next month and Rayah who is 19 months. A couple of months ago, Marc and Natasha got the happy news that they are expecting a fourth child. "I keep saying it's going to be a boy" says Marc. "So it will probably be a girl... it's going to be fun and we are getting excited by it."

Marc's wife Natasha trained horses with her stepfather, trainer Darryl MacLean, prior to meeting Marc at the track. "He does pretty good... I drive a little bit for him" Marc says. "Sitting at the dinner table, horse racing will come up. My family supports me huge, I have other uncles who were never really involved in horse racing until I started to get involved and now they follow me like crazy. At (last year's) Gold Cup, the after party went on for a long time. Being surrounded by friends and family when I pulled into the winner's circle and a bunch of them put me on their shoulders; it was a pretty cool feeling."

Back in the early part of 2007 prior to getting married in the summer, Marc was working in Ontario for Anthony Macdonald. "I drove some for (Anthony). I drove a few at Flamboro and some at Kawartha. I did drive for a few other people... it was pretty fun." Marc continues that he got hurt at the barn one day, so bad that he packed up and moved back home.

"It was kind of a freak thing. Down in London... I was getting a harness ready for a horse I was going to drive and I stepped awkwardly onto a mat from off a platform where we get ready and I pulled all the ligaments in my ankle. My ankle blew up... and tore everything in it."

Aside from driving, Marc does train horses so he is one of the lucky few people in the Maritimes who is able to be a fulltime horseman. "We've been pretty lucky so far and hope things keep going." Marc says gratefully.

David Rose is someone Marc also credits for helping him getting started as a young driver. Marc got his license when he was 18 and David helped Marc by giving him catch drives when possible.

"Very smart guy, very quiet guy too" is how Marc describes David. "He started giving me catch drives and I got to drive this three-year-old colt, Elm Grove Rebel, that he had who was making breaks and was a bit erratic at times but very fast. I drove him a couple times and a stake race came up... and I remember I moved him first up and at that time I didn't move that many horses first up because I didn't have any power.

"This day David told me don't be scared to move him (first up), so I did. He ended up winning in 1:56 which was the fastest win at that time. I remember that day and thought, 'this first up stuff isn't that bad' and I've been doing a lot of that ever since."

Marc is a keep it simple type of person, family and being a top quality horseman is what matters. Marc enjoys taking his kids to hockey, playing hockey with them and cheering on the Montreal Canadiens. "My kids are big Montreal fans now so it's pretty fun to watch games.... My son is a big Carey Price fan and he likes competing" Marc says. "I like Brandon Prust a lot, I like the way he plays. He's a tough little guy... kind of makes me think of how I would play if I played, getting into the corners, mix it up and have some fun."

It was at a Montreal Canadiens hockey game where Marc met his father, Carl Campbell, a few years ago. "It was the first time, I found out I had a sister, Ellen, so we met her first and then we met the whole family and we have been in contact the entire time." Marc explains.

Many people would hold a grudge about not knowing their father or the fact that there are siblings out in the world. But . Marc isn't the type of person to judge; rather Marc quite understands the situation. Marc recalls having a memory or two from a young age but nothing that stands out in his mind.

"I don't hold anything against (my dad). The way I see it, he's probably lived with guilt for quite a few years so I think that's enough torture." Marc states. "We have a good relationship now, so it's all good. When I was a teenager I thought about it and was half mad at the world because of it, but as you get older you get wiser."

"Once you have kids, things change so much it unbelievable" says Marc. "They teach you to have patience. It teaches you so much, it's pretty cool."

by Roderick Balgobin, www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article: