Like so many others, involved in harness racing, horseman Lorne House was born and raised into the business as well… “Indeed I grew up in it,” he says. “My Dad, Mike House, had horses and my Grandfather, Alf Smith, he raced horses too.”
It’s now been about 20 years in the business, for House, as a licensed harness trainer and driver in Ontario. His first career training win would come in London, with Fluid Drive, on November 4, 1999… “He was the first horse I ever owned too,” says House. “Don McElroy would have drove him and many others for me back then. I just didn’t have the itch to drive at that time…”
That itch would indeed come along, a few years later, when House would get in the majority of his qualifying drives, at The Raceway, during the Spring of 2001. It’d be Sarnia, in September of that year, where he’d guide Tinkers Magic to an off-the-pace win for his first career driving victory. And then it would be Fantastic Lil giving Lorne his first London driving win in early 2003. The pair would double up, next start at Flamboro, before that same mare would get claimed. “The guy that claimed her - well I guess he didn’t like her… He called me to see if I wanted her back, not long after, but I turned him down.” And so it goes - Fanstastic Lil would retire with just two career victories.
A few favourite horses, for House, over the years at The Raceway… “Grogan was a nice, nice trotter I trained and drove… I still remember the day he won an O.S.S. Grassroots in London (June 19, 2007)… The track was sloppy and we won by 11 in 2:00 flat! If the track would have been fast, that day, we’d have broke the track record I’m sure,” states House. “He’s retired now and I believe he’s breeding Dutch Warmblood mares in Indiana.”
“Kendal Gustav was another great horse to drive,” offers House. “I had lots of thrills aboard him. He was just so consistent and when it was time to go - it’s like he just knew and he’d show up… I could always count on ‘Gus’.
A very interesting question came up, recently, during a COSA TV special featuring driving legends Ron Waples, John Campbell and Bill ODonnell. Broadcast host Greg Blanchard would ask the gentlemen if there was ever a horse they never had a chance to drive, but wish they could have… Well they all quickly agreed on Niatross as that one horse they wished they could have drove in a big race.
So I then asked House that same question and his answer may surprise some… “The Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) would be the dream horse and an obvious choice for many, I’m sure, but I’ve always liked the hard knocking older horses - the blue-collar types, so Admirals Express would likely be that one horse for me.”
Outside of harness racing House says he’s a big Toronto Blue Jays fan and he loves to fish as well. “I do miss seeing the Jays play and my boy (Luc) loves the baseball too, but he’s not a Jays fan just yet though,” he laughs. “The fishing I picked up from my Grandfather years ago - we’d get out lots… And now it’s been Luc and I getting out.”
Lorne’s son Luc, at just 8 years of age, would come up big, recently, on the Niagara River around Queenston. “We’d never fished there before, but away we went last Friday (March 27),” says House. “We weren’t there 15 minutes and Luc hooked on to a 12-pound rainbow (trout)… And he wouldn’t need any help, from me, though he was getting tired into the stretch, but he dug in and landed him,” House chuckled. “It was a very proud moment for us both and he was grinning from ear to ear… We’d end up catching 13 that day and he’d catch 8 of them… I always loved fishing with my Dad and Grandpa, so my boy Luc - I guess he gets it honest enough!”
And like his Dad - Luc enjoys the horses too… Sitting alongside Lorne, at The Raceway in 2017, Luc would guide Ping to an exhibition pony race victory… “Now that was fun! Just for him alone - he was ecstatic… And we still have Ping too - she looks after the yearlings on the farm.”
Final words go to House on this current downtime for horse racing… “We’ve been quite busy training and I look after the track at Dorchester,” he says. “Angela (Clark) has been training Munndutch back under saddle, but we’ll have him back in the bike when racing returns… We’re just hoping to get back to racing soon and preferably in London. There’s no doubt we’ll be ready to race when and where the tracks are open.”
Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle
Track Announcer - The Raceway