Vancouver, B.C. (July 1/17) – It was a Happy Canada Day for the huge crowd at Hastings Racecourse Saturday and even happier for jockey Richard Hamel.

Veteran thoroughbred patrons were left shaking their heads wondering, “what’s with this guy?” after Hamel rode four winners Saturday to go along with the four he won the previous Sunday.

Not surprisingly, the 48-year-old riding warrior has overtaken David Lopez for the lead in the jockey standings and shows no sign of slowing down.

Hamel’s trek to the winner’s circle Saturday included a victory celebration with Modern after capturing the $75,000 Lieutenant Governors’ with relative ease in a final time of 1:43.22 over 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds and up. Owned by Swift Thoroughbreds and trained by Dino Condilenios, Modern won by 1¼ lengths over favoured Venetian Mask for his eighth career stakes win. Venetian Mask had scored a narrow victory over Modern with a late stretch run in the John Longden 6000 on June 4.

“He broke out of the gate well today,” Hamel said. “When I asked him to respond he was right there with me.”

Hamel goes into Sunday’s card with 29 wins on the season, four better than Lopez. No other jockey in the Hastings history books has ever come close to matching the Chris Loseth record of having won the riding title seven times.

Loseth was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

Hamel is chasing his fifth trip to the podium as leading jockey after back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2015 prior to consecutive titles in 2011 and 2010.

“I just want to keep healthy and let the chips fall where they may,” he says.

Over the past week, they’ve fallen with amazing regularity.

Live racing resumes Sunday at Hastings with the feature being the $75,000 Monashee for filles and mares three years old and up. Start time for the eight-race card is 1:50 p.m. and the 158th running of the Queen’s Plate from Woodbine will be shown on the jumbo screen at 2:36 p.m.


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Darren MacDonald