PEI's Marc Campbell exudes professionalism

12:20 PM 30 Jun 2011 NZST
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At just 26 Marc Campbell has proven himself to be one of the best horsemen in the Canadian Maritimes. He's already claimed driving titles at the Charlottetown and Summerside racetracks, but more importantly the Prince Edward Island native has earned the respect of his harness racing peers.

Not only because he’s a quality driver and trainer – but also because Campbell is quiet, modest and an unassuming person who is a great advertisement for our sport.

As experienced trainer-Driver Jeff Lilley puts it: “Marc is a young man with a great future. He is a very talented and very well liked trainer-driver.”

Now into his ninth season as a trainer, Campbell works a team of 18 horses with three staff.

He’s won 146 races since setting out on his own, and as of today (June 30) he was second behind Kenny Arsenault (11) on the 2011 Charlottetown training premiership with 10 wins.

But from his early childhood days when he mixed with his grandfather and uncles horses, Campbell has always wanted to be a driver.

“I had my first drive when I was 15 at Matinee tracks like Pinette. That was 2003 and the year I also trained my first winner. I loved being around the horses and couldn’t wait to leave school to pursue a driving career,” Campbell told Harnesslink.

However Charlottetown-born Campbell did a few ’odd jobs’ when he finished school before going out to work for Earl Watts. He then set up his own stable in the fall of 2007.

These days Campbell is based 10 minutes out of his home town in Winsloe located in Queens County in central Prince Edward Island.

And since 2004 he’s been driving up a storm – especially the last three years. In that time he has been the leading dash driver at Charlottetown Driving Park and has won the UDR driving title at Summerside Raceway.

This year he currently has a 10-win cushion at the top of Charlottetown dash premiership with 32 victories and is third at Summerside with 34 wins.

So what does he put all his success, aged at just 26, down to?

“It helps if you love your job and I not only love driving but I also respect and love horses. I also have a strong will to win and great family support. I have also had some top people advise me over the years including my good friend Anthony Macdonald.

Although Campbell has spent the majority of his driving and training days chasing the Maritimes (PEI, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) stakes circuit he did spend six months with MacDonald in Ontario during the winter of 2006.

“I was enjoying it there until I was involved in an accident and tore all the ligaments in my ankle which forced me to come home. Who knows what might have happened if that never occurred, but I guess everything happens for a reason and I’m still really enjoying it here in PEI.

“Who knows maybe one day I might tackle the bigger circuits, but for now I’m happy with my own team and my catch-driving where I’m getting a full book of drives most weeks.

“Administration-wise it could be better here (PEI) but I’m sure in time the two other Maritime Provinces will help us out and the sport will grow as one here in the east.”

Campbell, who competed in the National driving Championships at Fraser Downs a couple of years ago, has driven 635 career winners since 2004 and placed 1124 times from his 3.959 drives. His overall purses stand at $1,279,025.

Last year was his most successful in the sulky having saluted the judge 144 times and banked $310,080. In fact he has improved his winning tally every year since he first started – 2004: (4 wins); 2005 (20); 2006 ((86); 2007: (97); 2008: (121); and 2009: (125).

Campbell fondly remembers his first win.

“It was on my home track at the Charlottetown Driving Park with Crestwave Gaze in 2:01.3.”

Asked what his biggest win to date has been Campbell replied:

“Training and driving the 2007 Atlantic Breeders Crown (3yo fillies) winner Forceful Hope. It was Anthony’s (Macdonald) horse at the time and he left her with me. That is one race I will treasure.”

And what about his own team in 2011?

“I qualified a couple of nice 2-year-olds at Charlottetown last Saturday. They were a Rambaran colt called Acton Onelasttinme at Charlottetown and Malabrigo, a 2-year-old Western Paradise filly.

“I’ve also got a bit of time for two 3-year-old trotters - The Iceman Aireth, who has won three of his 12 starts and the un-raced Bo W gelding named Bo Two Sox. They both won their Charolttetown qualifiers on June 11 and June 23.

It’s no secret that Campbell is being noticed more and more by the top trainers in the Maritimes as he continues to pick up quality drives in both stake and overnight events.

He is one Canadian horseman who we will hear a great deal about in the future. That is for sure!

Watch this space.

THE CAMPBELL FACT FILE:

Family: Married to Natasha with two children – Landon (3) and Allie (2).

Born: Charlottetown, the birth place of harness racing legends such as Joe O’Brien and today’s stars like Mark MacDonald and Paul MacKenzie.

Favourite Horse Of All Time And Why – Big Time Marc. My very first horse I trained and through him I actually started to learn about the racing game.

Favourite Movie – Braveheart.

Favourite Actor – John Wayne.

Favourite Racetrack – Summerside Raceway.

Superstitions – I only use black whips when I’m driving.

Career Goals – To be the best trainer and driver I can be and to always keep in mind the well-being of the horse.

Other Interests: My family, hockey, baseball and golf.

Favorite Sports Team: The Boston Red Sox.

By Duane RANGER (editor)

(1) Marc Campbell and Sunnysidegal and winning the first B Division of the Atlantic Sires Stakes, for 3 year old pacing fillies on Sunday, June 12th, 2011 at Truro Raceway:

(2) Marc Campbell and Fleet Officer win the 2009 Premiers Pace at Charlottetown:

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