Rookie racer chases a dream

Adam
Adam Hawboldt
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Dustin Arcand was nervous.

Sitting in his trailer while the vast Prairie sky spilled rain on the Prince Albert Exhibition grounds, Arcand was alone with his thoughts. Those thoughts were centered on one thing: his debut chariot race.

"I didn't really know what to think," said the 24-year-old rookie. "When I was sitting there waiting, I was a little nervous. I was just hoping that my mind didn't go blank when I was out there."

Dustin Arcand was nervous.

Sitting in his trailer while the vast Prairie sky spilled rain on the Prince Albert Exhibition grounds, Arcand was alone with his thoughts. Those thoughts were centered on one thing: his debut chariot race.

"I didn't really know what to think," said the 24-year-old rookie. "When I was sitting there waiting, I was a little nervous. I was just hoping that my mind didn't go blank when I was out there."

An hour later, after the rain delay was over, Arcand took to the racetrack and proved all his worrying was for naught.

He didn't quite get the start he wanted, but as the one-lap race wore on Arcand - along with his horses - started to hit their stride. Coming into the home stretch, Arcand was yelling and snapping the reigns for all he was worth as he closed the gap on leader Rob Amundson.

The yelling and snapping continued to the finish line, but despite all his efforts it wasn't enough as Arcand finished second with a time of 69.05 seconds - 26 hundredths of a second behind Amundson.

After the race, Arcands face was still awash with excitement.

"That was everything I expected and more," he said with a smile.

While a debut victory might have made that smile a shade brighter, Arcand said there's more to chariot racing than just winning.

"This is just a hobby for me. It's fun," said Arcand, who trains in his hometown of Melfort. "I'm not in it to make a lot of money. It's more about the people you meet."

Randy Lobb is one of those people, and it was because of him Arcand decided to start chariot racing.

"Last year I got a chance to help my neighbour Randy harness and warm up and cool down and I thought it was great," said Arcand. "So he helped me get some horses lined up and get started."

Horses procured and heart set on competing on this season's chariot circuit, Arcand started training in the winter. With a sled attached to his team instead of a chariot, Arcand ran his horses through figure eights and took them on longer runs to keep them in shape.

When the snow melted, Arcand and Lobb started training together at the track in Melfort to get ready for the season's first event, which started Friday and will conclude on Sunday at the Exhibition. Arcand hopes Sunday doesn't come quicker than expected - he's enjoying the races too much.

"I'm really looking forward to tomorrow," he said. "I'm still pretty excited. I don't think I'll sleep very much tonight."

ahawboldt@paherald.sk.ca

Geographic location: Melfort

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