‘Hobby horsemen’ realize a dream
Red Isle Racing partners with Allard, MacRae with Governor’s Plate winner
An innocent comment paved the way for a group of “hobby horsemen” from the Kensington area to realize a dream.
That is winning Prince County’s most prestigious standardbred race – the $22,000 Governor’s Plate, presented by Summerside Chrysler Dodge – at Red Shores at Summerside Raceway on Saturday night.
“It was kind of a fairy tale story,” said Matt MacKay, who assembled the 11-member Red Isle Racing group. “All the dots connected, and it went from a simple joke into winning the Governor’s Plate. It’s a pretty remarkable feeling.”
MacKay has owned horses for 12 years, and recalled a business conversation he had with Rene Allard, who is known as one of the top trainers in harness racing.
“Rene wanted a spot for the summer for Governor’s Plate and Old Home Week, and he also wants to retire here,” said MacKay. “I ended up being his realtor, and Rene ended up buying a house a couple of doors down from me (in North Granville).
“The inside joke is I would look after his house if he found me a horse for the Gold Cup and Governor’s Plate. It was a running joke for three or four months, and one day he called me and said, ‘I found you a horse.’”
This is where the four-yearold bay gelding Do Over Hanover enters the story.
MacKay reached out to his “hobby horsemen” friends, and within 24 hours Red Isle Racing was formed and partnered with Allard and Steven
“It was kind of a fairy tale story. All the dots connected, and it went from a simple joke into winning the Governor’s Plate. It’s a pretty remarkable feeling.” Matt MacKay
MacRae of Vernon Bridge. Red Isle Racing is comprised of both veterans and newcomers to the industry.
“Some of them have been hobby horsemen for 20, 30 years, and never had this chance (racing in a race like the Governor’s Plate),” added MacKay. “There are a few who are new to the business.
Obviously, to win the Governor’s Plate with the first horse they had, they are hooked for life.
“Out of the 11 we probably had about 100 fans who just came to see this horse.”
Red Isle Racing owns 50 per cent of Do Over Hanover while Allard and MacRae each own 25 per cent. MacKay acknowledged this would not have been possible without Allard.
“He loves P.E.I.,” said MacKay. “He races for $20,000 US a night in New York, and he is here with us (for the Governor’s Plate).”
Marc Campbell, who drove Do Over Hanover to a 1:53.2 win in the Governor’s Plate, feels it’s great for the industry to have so many
“Until (Saturday) I didn’t know who all owned him,” said Campbell in a post-race interview. “One of the owners, Blaine Thibeau, his kid plays against my kid at the rink all the time. It’s pretty cool.”
The ownership group is hopeful Do Over Hanover will get an invite to the Gold Cup and Saucer Trials in Charlottetown next month.
“I hope we can get to the Gold Cup, it’s been a big dream,” said MacKay. “Governor’s Plate was a dream, and we accomplished it.”
The ownership group of Do Over Hanover – Rene Allard, holding the head of the horse; Steven MacRae, front left, and members of Red Isle Racing – pose with driver Marc Campbell, trainer Chris MacKay, right, and Jordan MacKay, second right, who is looking after the four-year-old bay gelding on P.E.I. Do Over Hanover won the 49th running of the Governor’s Plate in 1:53.2 at Red Shores at Summerside Raceway on Saturday night.