The 2023 Calgary Stampede Rangeland Derby is in the history books, and the winner has a local connection.
Reigning World Professional Chuckwagon Association driver Layne MacGillivray, who lives in the Halkirk area, can add Rangeland Derby Champion to his resume now as well.
“The horses did their job,” said MacGillivray.
“They stayed consistent, and had a real strong showing in the Dash (for Cash).”
MacGillivray has been on the chuckwagon racing scene for the better part of two decades, however, it is in the last few years that things have really begun to come together for him and his team.
MacGillivray credits a lot of his success to his sponsor, Spray Lakes Saw Mills.
“I can’t say enough about them,” said MacGillivray
“It’s definitely been interesting. There’s been hard times and good times.”
The Calgary Stampede takes place about halfway through a rather busy racing season; according to MacGillivray he and the team compete in between 54 and 56 “running days” every season split between 10 or 11 different shows.
“The family has to be fully engaged for sure,” said MacGillivray.
Although the racing season doesn’t start until the latter part of May or the beginning of June, like any professional athlete MacGillivray begins preparing for the season well in advance, usually in mid-April.
MacGillivray says that while the older horses may get “hooked” once or twice during the pre-season, newer horses in the team will get hooked more to get them conditioned for the season and used to pulling the wagon.
According to MacGillivray, this year has been a little different for him.
“I felt more focus this year,” said MacGillivray.
“Last year, I felt more nervous. That comes with experience. It’s kind of learn as you go.”
Something that has helped MacGillivray combat the nerves this year is a ritual where he finds a few minutes of peace and quiet before every race.
In addition to winning the Rangeland Derby, MacGillivray was also honoured with the “very prestigious” Guy Wedick Award.
The Guy Weadick Award is named after the founder of the Calgary Stampede and is awarded annually to “the one Chuckwagon or Rodeo competitor who best embodies what the cowboy stands for, and who best typifies the spirit of the Calgary Stampede.”
“It’s pretty honouring,” said MacGillivray.
As of Aug. 18, 2023, MacGillivray sits sixth in the World Professional Chuckwagon Association rankings and is six points out of fifth place.