Local Driver Represents Canada In France
BY CAROLINE NICLASEN for Grand River Raceway
In 2012, Arthur , ON horseman Trevor Henry made local headlines as the top dash-winning driver in Canada .
In 2013, he could make international headlines as the World Driving Champion.
Henry has accepted an invitation from Standardbred Canada to defend the nation’s title in the 2013 World Driving Championship (WDC).
The 20-heat WDC Tour opens in Reims , France (heart of the Champagne Region) on June 9, where the first five races will be contested. Four races will be contested in Normandy , at Caen , on June 10. Angers will host five races on June 12. Five dashes will be raced the following day at Mauqenchy. The series concludes with a single heat on June 15 at Vincennes-Paris, home of the famed Prix d’Amerique.
There are 12 countries involved in the world driving championship: Australia , Austria , Canada , Denmark , Finland , France , Italy , New Zealand , Norway , Spain , Sweden and the United States .
To date, Henry is a lifetime winner of 4773 races and has driven in more than 25,000 dashes. He’s driven horses to purse earnings over $30 million. Despite these impressive accomplishments, the difference in racing styles from Canada to France is substantial and Henry will need to adapt. In preparation, Henry said he has been watching race replays from France and studying their racing style. He’s also talked to drivers who have previous represented Canada in the WDC. In Canada , Henry is considered the king of half-mile racing. But in France , many of the tracks are either five-eighths or mile tracks. Henry is a versatile driver, who is able to alter his driving style accordingly.
The racing strategy in France is more about patience, said Henry. From the very start of the race there is much more movement and flow on the outside. They are more reserved at the start. It often resembles a game of cat and mouse. They race hard against the other horses but there is a great emphasis on conserving the horse’s energy for the final quarter of the race. In the final stretch of the race, French horses are generally asked to fan out across the track, in pursuit of the finish line.
The preparations for a 6100 kilometer trip are of course not only on track. Henry and his wife Shannon also train a stable of horses. While Henry is in France , he has sent two horses to other trainers to prep them for important races. Henry mentioned that while he is in France , one of his horses will have the chance to race for an estimated purse of $380 000. He said he will be watching from France .
The trip to France is a busy 10 day adventure. There will be 20 heats of racing and plenty of sight-seeing. He is being accompanied by his wife Shannon and six other family members. In addition to his travel companions, Henry’s fans and harness racing peers make for a large cheering section, right here in Canada . This is Henry’s first trip to France . He is most excited about racing in a different country, at several different tracks, and seeing the differences in racing styles. While in France , Henry will visit a training center as well as other sights of the countryside.
Being a harness driver is not all glory. Although a thrilling job, it does have roller-coaster ups and downs. Henry is a down to earth, hardworking family man. One of the challenges of being a driver is being able to spend enough time with family. Driving horses is very time consuming, and very often these races are in the evening or require great travel time, all making it challenging to find time to spend with family. This long travel to France is no exception, but involving family in his trip is an example of how Henry makes it work.
Henry leaves for France on June 6 and returns on June 16.
Grand River Raceway will present Henry with a good luck banner, signed by patrons, during the races on June 5.