While working on a series of writings involving horsemen in the harness racing industry in the Maritimes I learned two major things. One, everyone I spoke with has a can do attitude and secondly horsemen from the Maritimes definitely enjoy having fun with one another.
Whether it's for bragging rights or shooting the breeze, the horsemen know how to keep it light while maintaining a professional attitude on the track.
Paul Langille, 20, is referred to by veterans of the racing industry in the Maritimes as a good person with a lot of potential. Paul was great to talk with and he's a real interesting person such as aside from driving and training horses, he is going to school at Dalhousie University taking four courses a semester to earn a degree in Economics.
"If I can get an education and things don't work out, I can always use my education to find work." Paul says. Paul's school campus is about 30 seconds away from the track according to Paul, "I am at the track more than I am at school. I had a good first semester so I am expecting to have a good second semester."
A self proclaimed night owl, Paul admits he tends to stay up late to follow his favorite hockey team, the Edmonton Oilers. So catching an Oilers game on TV may lead to Paul staying up until 2am due to the time difference.
"I cheer for the Oilers so I'm used to this, (not being in the playoffs)" says Paul with a laugh. "We haven't been in the playoffs for the last seven years or so. I got following the Oilers during their Cup run in '06. I watched them then and ever since. I follow their drafts and would be up til real late watching their games, dedicated for sure."
"Hopefully one of these years they will make the playoffs... painful!" Paul says conveying a true fan's frustration. "In the playoffs I cheer for Pittsburgh because Crosby is from about an hour from me. He's huge here, but I went to the Mooseheads game last Friday in Halifax and there is a lot of MacKinnon (this past season's top pick overall, drafted by the Colorado Avalanche), jerseys. I think he might be just as big because he played his junior career in Halifax."
Paul finished 3rd in the driving standings at Truro Raceway in 2013 behind veterans Ryan Ellis and Darren Crowe. 2013 was Paul's first full year as a driver. He did drive for a couple of months towards the end of the season in 2012 at Truro Raceway. "I had a big year given what my expectations were. Everything worked out and a lot of people gave me nice drives. I drove a couple in Stake races forand when you start driving in Stake races, you get more recognition." Paul explains.
As to how Paul got into horse racing, he thanks his grandfather, Ralph Driscoll, for that. "When I was four or five I used to go and watch races with my grandfather. That's when I really got into, when I was eleven or twelve I got my first horse." Paul says. "It was a $2,000 horse but he raced pretty good and we had him in's barn."
Asking Paul what got him so passionate about racing, he explains "I always thought the racing was neat. (My grandfather) showed me everything about the program from an early age. He'd ask me what horse I like in this race for example, and he'd pick out the advantages of who is driving and I always thought that was neat.
"My grandfather would go and see Phil everyday and that's how I got connected to Phil." Paul says. "My grandfather and Phil would go on road trips together, like driving to stake races. Now I have horses here and Phil and I work together.
"If I have any questions, I can ask (Phil) and he will tell me. It's more like paying attention to him cause he hints at stuff, like if you're training he'll say 'maybe if you do this, that will be better.' You really got to be paying attention cause he doesn't come right out and tell you what you should do, but that's what he wants you to do." Paul goes on to say, "Everything I learned comes from him for sure."
Paul has been working for Phil for the last ten years, learning small things one step at a time. "We have about 5 horses at Phil's barn" explains Paul.
"We jog 5 horses between Phil and myself" Paul notes. "Sounds like we have a big operation, but we don't." However it may appear to Paul that is still a lot of work for two guys.
Paul's mom, Rosanne Driscoll used to work foras a groom and trainer, thus helping to open the door for Paul to be engaged with horses from a young age. Paul's dad, Dwayne Langille is recently retired from owning a tractor business in Nova Scotia. Now Paul's parents work together at their family farm with two broodmares and four yearlings.
"My grandfather owned horses and that's how my mom got into the business" says Paul. "My dad owned one or two horses way back, but he ran his own business, a John Deere tractor company."
Paul admits he's not an early riser, probably due to the fact he's up late cheering on the Oilers, but he has a strong work ethic. Looking after horses, including training, cleaning stalls, feeding and jogging combined with taking on economics at University and driving full time at Truro raceway definitely highlights a lot about his personality to be successful and to have a plan B just in case the inevitable were to happen. Paul demonstrates a lot of maturity for someone who is 20 years of age.
"I won a Stake race in Summerside on Governors Plate Night on a 3-year-old colt named Go Ahead in 1:56 flat." Paul says about his biggest win to date. Paul's horse was up against a horse named Rev who Paul considered was one of the top two horses in the Maritimes. "It was a definitely a big accomplishment for me."
At Truro Raceway, Paul, Ryan and Darren do like to rub it in when either one of them wins a race. It's all about having fun with the sport you love. "We have a good relationship" explains Paul. "Yesterday (Sunday), we were racing and I came in second to Darren in one race and he was having fun with me as we crossed the wire."
"At the same time, if I ever have question, they would help me and answer the question. They are really good to me that way." Paul says.
All joking aside, Ryan and Darren truly want to see Paul succeed, but they'll enjoy themselves along the way.
If and when Paul has any free time, Paul enjoys playing golf and considers himself to be good at it, "but on the easier courses" Paul says while laughing. That's another great thing I noticed about Paul, he enjoys laughing and his upbeat demeanor is inspiring. If Paul continues to put in the quality work he has up to now, you can only imagine how well he will be doing ten years from now, even five years from now. Hard work always pays off and hard work is something Paul embraces.
Paul dreams to race at tracks such as Woodbine Racetrack, Mohawk Racetrack and the Meadowlands. "That would be awesome, that's the top of the class and hopefully one day I can race there." Paul says.
There is reason to believe Paul will be racing at premiere tracks sometime soon. One step at a time and Paul's parents support all of his decisions from school to harness racing.
By: Roderick Balgobin www.supernovasportsclub.com Twitter: ScSupernova