Day At The Track

Paul MacDonell - racing driver extraordinaire

02:36 PM 11 May 2011 NZST
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Paul MacDonell Paul MacDonell & Somebeachsomewhere Paul MacDonell Paul MacDonell
Paul MacDonell - Since 1981 he has driven 4,830 winners
Paul MacDonell & Somebeachsomewhere - Brought his biggest claim to fame
Paul MacDonell - With his two dogs named Rhys and Riley
Paul MacDonell - Has amassed a staggering $101 million in purses
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Former Canadian Driver-of-the-Year (2008) Paul MacDonell flies to Norway this Thursday night (May 12) where he will link up with trotter Define the World to compete in that country's most prestigious harness racing event - the 2011 Oslo Grand Prix at the Bjerke Racetrack in Oslo on May 15.

Then two weeks later, the man who will always be remembered as the driver of the great Somebeachsomewhere, will get to drive in his second Elitlopp at Solvalla Racetrack in Stockholm, Sweden.

“I drove the same horse last year but we didn’t make the Final. He’s in better condition this time around and will be a lot wiser for the experience. He should go well,” MacDonell told Harnesslink.

MacDonell has driven an Elitlopp winner before but not in the actual race. The 48-year-old Guelph resident said he drove the 1992 Elitlopp champion Billyjojimbob to win two races towards the end of that Balanced Image gelding’s career in late 1992.

“I’ve been fortunate to drive some really nice horses in my career. There was none bigger, stronger, and faster than Somebeachsomewhere. He had another gear, but Admirals Express, Jeremes Jet, Bigtime Ball and Peaceful Way were all very nice horses,” Macdonell said.

Born in Oshawa in Ontario and educated at Donovan Collegiate, MacDonell took his mother’s advice and remained at school until the 12th grade before helping his father Blaise with his horses and then moving on to Doug Brown’s stable.

When he was 21 he went out on his own and trained for about five years before catch driving for 18 years. He’s still a popular freelance reinsman but just recently he has ventured back into training at the Classy Lane Training facility near Guelph.

“I bought a couple of yearlings from the Sales and I’m enjoying training again. I’d say the best of my small team is a Jeremes Jet colt named Rebel jet. He is from Jeremes Jet’s first crop and I’m quite excited about him,” MacDonell said.

Undoubtedly MacDonell’s greatest talent is in the sulky. Since 1981 he has driven 4,830 winners, 9,254 place-getters and amassed a staggering $101 million in purses.

2010 marked the 27th straight season that MacDonell won more than 100 races and the 25th in a row that he earned $1 million.

He won his first race in 1981 at his third attempt and in 1987 and 1988 MacDonell was the leading driver at Charlottetown Driving Park.

In recent years, he has been a regular on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit.

His first big victory came in 1990 when he drove longshot Bay’s Fella to a surprising triumph in the Breeders Crown Horse and Gelding Pace at Pompano.

During the 1990s, he made his mark as the catch-driver of choice for the powerful Bill Wellwood Stable and among the outstanding horses Macdonell handled for him were Village Connection and Village Jasper

But it was Canada’s 2007 Horse-of-the-Year - Somebeachsomewhere that brought his biggest claim to fame.

That son of Mach Three was a Dan Patch Award divisional champion in the United States and the 2008 Horse of the Year in both countries.

In 2008 MacDonell was an O’Brien Award winner as Canada’s Driver of the Year.

He said his greatest moment in the sport was driving Somebeachsomewhere to victory in the 2008 North America Cup.

“The race was virtually at my back door at Mohawk and there were 15,000 screaming fans who were yelling Somebeachsomewhere’s name. That gave me goose bumps and is one race I will never ever forget so long as I live.

“That horse was a machine and it was no wonder he was compared to the greats like Niatross and Cam Fella. It was an absolute privilege to be associated with such a champion,” MacDonell said.

In June MacDonell will have been married to his wife Lynn for 25 years. They have three daughters, Jenna, Shelby and Loren. Jenna in fact works in customer service at Mohawk the Racetrack.

MacDonell favourites:

Food: Seafood, especially lobster.

Tv Show: family Guy.

Hobby: Golf.

His first car: A 1977 Chevy Vega.

He has: Two dogs named Rhys and Riley.

Is proud of: Having three “unique daughters”.

Is motivated by: The natural high he gets from winning races.

MacDonell’s achievements:

ART ROONEY (95) Village Connection

BREEDERS CROWN (2cp) (05) Jereme’s Jet

BREEDERS CROWN (2ct) (01) Duke of York

BREEDERS CROWN (3cp) (97) Village Jasper (08) Somebeachsomewhere

BREEDERS CROWN (Hp) (90) Bay’s Fella (94) Village Jiffy

BREEDERS CROWN (Ht) (91) Billyjojimbob

BREEDERS CROWN (Mt) (93) Lifetime Dream

CONFEDERATION CUP (95) Village Connection (97) Village Jasper (98) Rustler Hanover (04) Sparkler (08) Somebeachsomewhere

ELEGANTIMAGE (04) Mystical Sunshine (08) Lantern Kronos

GOVERNOR’S CUP (05) Jereme’s Jet

GRADUATE (02) Camotion

HOOSIER CUP (03) Jr Mint

MESSENGER (08) Somebeachsomewhere

METRO (97) Rustler Hanover (05) Jereme’s Jet (07) Somebeachsomewhere

NORTH AMERICA CUP (08) Somebeachsomewhere

TATTERSALLS PACE (08) Somebeachsomewhere

WELLWOOD MEMORIAL (05) Was It A Dream (06) Laddie

WILLIAM HAUGHTON MEMORIAL (94) Village Jiffy

WINDY CITY (95) Village Connection (98) Take Down The Flag

By Duane RANGER (editor)

Paul MacDonell and Somebeachsomewhere winning the 2008 North America Cup:

Paul MacDonell Driver-of-the-Year:

Paul MacDonell profile:

The Cribs Show featuring Paul MacDonell:

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