A Halkirk, Alberta racer has won his first Word Professional Chuckwagon Association (WPCA) title after 18 years of competition, and he’s looking forward to plenty more.
Layne MacGillivray won his first 2022 WPCA title by a healthy margin, totalling 1,500 points after races at the Century Downs racetrack over the Aug. 27 weekend.
MacGillivray topped second place finisher Obrey Motowylo who had 1,410 points and third place finisher Kurt Bensmiller who had 1,395 total for the 2022 season.
“It’s a great feeling, for sure,” said MacGillivray by phone Sept. 2, noting his previous best seasons were two third place finishes.
“It’s a long, hard year and for us to come out on top it’s a feather in the cap to everyone involved, and the horses too, that’s for sure,” he said.
The WPCA season included races at Grande Prairie, Bonnyville, Medicine Hat, Dewberry, Ponoka, the Calgary Stampede, High River, Strathmore, Dawson Creek, Rocky Mountain House and Calgary’s Century Downs.
MacGillivray noted his strategy for a long summer of racing includes patience and observation.
“Basically we took it one day at a time,” he said, but added mid-season adjustments were crucial. “We changed some horses around at the Ponoka Stampede.” MacGillivray stated he hit a barrel at Ponoka and decided it was time to shuffle his horses.
The champion noted that he typically begins the season with 20 to 22 horses on his team and finishes the season with about 14, adding that room in stalls can be a factor for how many horses he carries.
Injuries and overall health of the horses were good this year, two things that can play big factors in a championship.
MacGillivray also stated horses can sometimes work better with different partners they’re more comfortable with.
Looking back at his championship year MacGillivray stated it’s tough to pick out a favourite moment or memory because he’s scarcely had time to sit down and think things over. He said the 2022 season featured lots of great moments but did point out he had an excellent crew to work with that supported him all year.
For MacGillivray, there are three reasons to race every year: first and foremost, the chuckwagon racing community. “It’s the family aspect of the sport that gets in your blood,” said MacGillivray.
Second, he loves spending every day working with the horses.
Lastly, the competitive nature of the sport keeps the adrenaline flowing.
“That’s the adrenaline rush,” said MacGillivray “There’s risk in anything and you have to take the good with the bad.”
He pointed out the important role sponsors play in a WPCA season and said he has much gratitude to his which included League Projects, Cascade Energy Services, Spray Lake Sawmills, Cougar Fuels, McLean Contracting, Aurora Farms, Rocky Hydraulic and Bearing / GT Hydraulic and Bearing and Ensign Energy Services.
MacGillivray noted many people have reached out to him with congratulations on the season and he appreciated the work of crews, fans and committees that allowed a championship.
“Hopefully it’s not the last,” he added.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review