Day At The Track

Trevor Henry putting in the tough miles

05:24 AM 28 Jan 2014 NZDT
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Trevor Henry, harness racing Trevor Henry stats.jpg
Trevor Henry drives his truck nearly 1,000 miles a week

While his “pedigree” indicates that Trevor Henry would have success in the business of harness racing, it is his “inner drive,” his ability to place himself in a position to win on the racetrack and then successfully guide his charge home first, that made him 2013’s winningest Canadian-based driver, with 529 trips to Victory Lane.

Well, better make that both his “inner drive” and his “outer drive.” For Henry achieved victory at no fewer than ten Ontario racetracks last year, across the province from London to Rideau Carleton, and achieved over half those triumphs at Western Fair Raceway (London), which is 160km from his home base of Arthur, Ontario. (The list of how many victories he achieved at each track accompanies this article.)

Arthur, within 40km of both the old Orangeville and Elmira Raceways, was their residences and home base of Trevor’s father, horseman Ross Henry, and where the family lived. The elder Henry was famous as a conditioner in Canada’s most-populous province, and with his record combining with his son/Trevor’s brother Wayne, the name “Henry” appears on the Johnston Cup, emblematic of the most success in a year’s Ontario Sire Stakes action for a trainer, as much as any other – Ross led on five occasions, and Wayne two, with their combined seven putting them equal-top with Bob McIntosh.

“Ross” seems to be a good first name to have if looking for success in the Ontario Sire Stakes, as most locals know that Ross Battin, a track criss-crosser before it became fashionable, is the leading driver in the standings in the Lampman Cup – the sulky equivalent of the Johnston Cup -- also with seven wins. Two-time world driving champion Jody Jamieson is second in Lampman history with three etchings into the Cup, with Trevor tied in third place at two with what he called “a pretty good group of guys to be associated with” – Sylvain Filion, Brad Forward, Don McElroy, Dave Wall, and Terry Kerr.

The far-flung nature of the Ontario program may have helped Trevor get used to traveling a lot, but staying close to home was in his early career plans: “I had my first drive at Orangeville, and my first win at Elmira.” But Orangeville closed, and when Elmira-area residents rejected the introduction of slot machines, the racing moved to nearby Elora, which now has the iron quarter gobblers – and Grand River Raceway, where Trevor had his second-biggest win haul of the past year, 122, despite their limited schedule.

The Ontario track that provided the most “stable” schedule, with racing in fall, winter, and spring several days a week, came to be Western Fair, where Henry now focuses his energies, with 284 visits to the winners circle in 2013, a good many coming from the ten or so horses supervised by Henry’s wife, Shannon, at a farm relatively close to London. “It’s basically me doing all the commuting,” Henry says. He adds, “It’s just part of doing the job,” in the matter-of-fact manner that belies his talent and, to this writer, the one surprising thing in Trevor Henry’s life (though he doesn’t agree with that statement, his wife does; that tale will be told in part two).

Trevor says that his Dodge Ram has “about 278,000km on it,” and “I put over 1800km on just the other week, and it’s not even stakes season.” (That’s 170,000+ miles and 1,100 miles, respectively, for the “.6215-challenged” kilometer/mile conversion folks.) When a guess was hazarded that the truck was probably between three and four years old, Henry said, “That’s right – how did you know that?”, and it was explained that it was no surprise to an “insider” just how much mileage horsemen put on their vehicles – and themselves – in the pursuit of what looks like the glamorous job of racing for two minutes then appearing all bright and shiny in victory lane – which of course is far from the truth.

Some mileage was added to both man and truck when Trevor added Flamboro to his regular schedule in November, getting 50 wins in his first two months there at season’s end. (“With the way things are in Ontario these days, the uncertainty, I felt I had to branch out and add Flamboro” – which, ironically, is almost 50 miles closer to Arthur than London.) And some mileage will be added to Trevor himself very soon to the appearance of this story, as he heads to Australia for a couple of drives at the invitation of an Aussie he became friendly with while representing Canada in the 2013 World Driving Championships.

“Didn’t do too good over there racing in France,” Henry remembers honestly. “After racing mostly on the half-mile track as I do, those tracks seem to go on forever – it was hard to see the grandstand from the backstretch – and also I was unlucky and had to drive a lot of …” (here he paused, trying to be diplomatic, then agreed when, in the spirit of the location, the word merde was offered as a possibility to conclude the thought, a choice with which he agreed).  

The trip Down Under, which is currently in its summertime (you could almost see Henry’s smile over the phone when he was reminded of the difference in seasons from Canada), will be a good visit to a warmer clime, and it is hoped will replace the memory of the clan Henry’s last journey southward – to Florida at year’s start, when Trevor’s brother Paul, a trainer at Flamboro, suddenly passed away at age 48.

Paul’s passing may make passing through the Flamboro gates a little harder for Trevor, but anybody who knows him realizes he’s like the Energizer Bunny – he’ll just keep going and going and going, doing whatever he can, placing himself on the racetrack wherever he needs to (“lead, off cover … it doesn’t matter to me) in order to win. That’s the way you get to be #1 in Canada.

IN PART 2 TOMORROW: Trevor breeds his 17-year-old mare to a 23-year-old Pennsylvania stallion, and has high hopes for the resultant foal … and more about Trevor’s “traveling companion” in all those miles in the truck – the same somebody who “helped Trevor name” the Pennsylvania colt.

By Jerry Connors for

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