Okotoks driver makes his points

Chuckwagons: Mark Sutherland finishes fifth in High River

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 06:00 am

Okotoks chuckwagon driver Mark Sutherland got off to a fast start at the Guy Weadick Chuckwagon Championships on July 18 in High River. He finished fifth in the championship.
Okotoks chuckwagon driver Mark Sutherland got off to a fast start at the Guy Weadick Chuckwagon Championships on July 18 in High River. He finished fifth in the championship.

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An driver just missed adding a fancy buckle to his wardrobe, but he did get some valuable points towards going to the big party next year.

A slow start cost Mark Sutherland a shot at winning the Guy Weadick Championships buckle on Sunday in High River, but earning valuable points was consolation.

“Before the race, Dina (wife Dina Sutherland) jumped in the wagon and I told her: ‘I need points rather than a buckle,” Sutherland said after the race. “It’s all about getting into the Calgary Stampede, next year and I am down at the bottom right now.”

Sutherland was sitting pretty going into Sunday’s heat. Although he was second place .15 seconds behind Roger Moore, Sutherland was running from the one barrel, while Moore, who was in a different heat, had the four barrel.

Things went sour for Sutherland when the horn blew.

“For whatever reason, my right leader took a step to the right rather than go straight up to the barrel, he tried to duck away,” Sutherland said. “I was happy I was able to get around the barrel and get a clean run.”

Sutherland’s fifth place finish in the aggregate in High River moved him from 24th to 19th in the world standings. The cutoff for the 2015 Calgary Stampede is expected to be about 26. However, he would have loved to win what is his hometown show.

“I have always wanted to win this show — I have always liked High River and 15 years ago I moved down here,” Sutherland said. “I had friends and family here tonight, but I guess I let them down tonight.

“I thought I had a great shot because Roger didn’t have a great run.”

It wasn’t Moore who won the title, however. That went to Grand Prairie’s Rick Fraser, who won his third title in High River by turning in the second fastest time of 1:18.21on Sunday to catapult past Sutherland and Moore for the title.

Fraser was able to make the turn quickly from the fourth barrel and grabbed the rail to lead wire to wire.

When his outfit entered the track, he had no idea Sutherland and Moore had struggled in previous heats.

“I was busy helping other people hook up,” said Fraser, who is the defending World champion. “They are very good drivers, but I have a strong outfit coming out of the three and four barrels.”

Fraser couldn’t be beat in High River. He drove his injured cousin Troy Dorchester’s outfit, which turned in the fastest time of the day on Sunday and finished second in the aggregate.

High River’s Jason Glass got off to a fast start, winning the first day of racing on Thursday from the four barrel. He would finish 10th in the aggregate.

“The horses worked great, but I didn’t race well the second night from the one barrel,” Glass said. “I just couldn’t keep up to my horses.”

Glass finished 18th on Sunday, but he felt he was interfered with by Kirk Sutherland in the ninth heat. He asked for an inquiry, but it was ruled there was no interference.

Sutherland and Glass are sitting first and second respectively in the world standings after High River.

High River’s Jordie Fike had a consistent week in his hometown finishing 14th in the aggregate. He finished second overall on Friday night.

“I got second-day money with new horses on the left side of the outfit,” Fike said. “I was happy with my week. I ran clean and I had my good outfit sitting at home resting.”

While there is no place like home, Fike admitted there can be a few distractions.

“You’re way busier at home than you are on the road — the horses rest but the people don’t,” Fike said with a laugh. “But I love racing here in front of friends and family.”

Fike is 15th in the world.

Chad Cosgrave’s Racing for High River tarp had the hometown crowd cheering for the wagon. Cosgrave, who was born in High River, had the aggregate lead after two days.

“I enjoyed two days of it,” Cosgrave said with a laugh. “I loved running for High River, I just wish I would have had two better days the last couple, but that is wagon racing.”

He finished 12th in the aggregate in High River and sits 22nd in the world standings.

Outrider Quaid Tournier who fell off his horse and was partially ran over by a wagon Thursday night suffered a broken wrist and thumb and is doing fine.

The World Professional Chuckwagon Association’s next stop is in Bonnyville this weekend.

To see the full results of High River’s Guy Weadick Chuckwagon races and the world standings go to www.wpca.ca


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