James MacDonald on brink of career year

08:46 AM 26 Aug 2014 NZST
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James MacDonald, harness racing
James MacDonald plants a kiss on the Battle Of The Belles trophy
Iron Horse Photo

ELORA, ON - In just his sixth year as a professional driver, James MacDonald of Guelph ranks among the best in Canada. He sits second in the nation in wins, is a close third in money and is on the verge of surpassing his best money year ever, the $2.9 million he earned in 2012.

One of his biggest career victories came earlier this month when he won the Battle of the Belles at Grand River Raceway with a 20-1 longshot named Win The Gold.

"I've had a lot of good horses and a lot of good trainers use me, so that makes it easier."

MacDonald is on an incredible roll in 2014. He kicked off the year getting married to Jenna MacDonell. Jenna is the daughter of veteran reinsman Paul Macdonell, the man best known for driving the incredible Somebeachsomewhere.

"Paul's great and Jenna's even better," MacDonald said, laughing.

A few months after getting married, James MacDonald surpassed $10 million in lifetime earnings and recorded his 1,000th career win.

"It means quite a bit. I've been watching it for awhile," MacDonald said of the wins milestone.

"You try and win as much as you can, but it's hard. There's nine, 10 people in every race trying to win and in Ontario it's not easy to win races. There are so many good drivers around. Just to know that you've been able to achieve 1,000 is kind of special."

James is the third MacDonald brother to reach the upper echelons of the sport. James, Anthony and Mark MacDonald have won more than 9,000 races and $100 million combined. Mark MacDonald is a two-time Canadian driver of the year.

James said it all starts with their parents, Fred and Gail MacDonald, back in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

"Our family's great. Dad and mom, they watch every race and they call after," James said.

"Whether you're up the track or win, you're the best driver in the world. They're great and Mark and Anthony they're great, too. All our brothers. They all watch, they all call.

"Mark, if he sees me do something, or Anthony sees me do something they're the first people to give good constructive criticism, so it makes it that much easier, for sure."

Constructive? Brothers are able to do constructive?

"Somewhat. It starts off as constructive and usually ends up in a fight," James said, laughing. "But, deep down I know it was meant well."

James said the Ontario track that most reminds him of home is Grand River Raceway in Elora.

"It's a great track to race at. The grandstand sits right on the track. The fans are lined up at the fence to watch. It's just a really friendly place to race at."

To hear our conversation with James MacDonald - including what sport he beats his brothers at every time - check out our weekly podcast, the Harness Racing Report, produced for Grand River Raceway by award-winning journalist Dave Briggs, at https://soundcloud.com/grandriverraceway

by Dave Briggs for Grand River Raceway

 

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