By LOGAN CLOW
Dean Dreger enters the 2017 Western Chuckwagon Association as the reigning WCA GMC Pro Tour champion.
The veteran chuckwagon driver, who lives in the Grande Prairie area, said he knows full well capturing back-to-back tour titles isn’t going to be easy.
“This year I’d like to do it again. It’s just like anyone else who’s won it. It’ll be pressure I put on myself and hopefully we’ve done enough research, enough training and enough planning to be there this year,” said Dreger.
After a busy off-season, Dreger feels his team is ready for the 2017 season.
“We had a really wet spring, so we changed a few (training) things up. We had to go a lot slower and we had to do a lot of things safety-wise, and a lot of things to protect the horses from overreaching or getting into environments that’s not healthy for their feet, tendons and cardio,” he explained, noting he doesn’t have a big stable this season, but instead, believes he has quality.
“To maintain the level of cardio we need to race in Grande Prairie (at the Stompede), we had to approach it differently. We went to more of a variable-type training and lower-impact and slower to build the bottom-end of the horse up so we could run five-eighths of a mile with ease come 60 days later, so we started at the first of March, end of April type thing.”
Even with their revised training schedule, Dreger said his horses not only got in the same amount of work as previous years, but were also able to build more strength.
Whether the revised training plan worked or not, Dreger said he’ll have a better idea later this week.
Ask any chuckwagon driver and they’ll tell you there’s no room for error this week at the Stompede.
Dreger is one of those drivers who believes kicking off the season with strong results will help down the stretch.
“It’s a first chance to do things right. It’s just like a re-start. You set the reset button for this season and it is what you make it. It’s yours to lose on the first day, so there’s a little added pressure,” explained Dreger.
“It’s usually a showcase for your new horses that you’ve brought on and it’s going to be their first races of the new year too. So, some may be going in a different direction than you wish, but you’ll have to pilot them in the right direction or you’ll have a bunch of penalties.”
Dreger was in the thick of things last year at the Stompede.
He finished third in the aggregate and then second to Derek Aebly in WCA Dash for Cash.
“I plan on being there again. I plan on doing a couple things a little different. I’ll be having a little look over my shoulders for Mr. Aebly,” said Dreger, with a chuckle.
“It’s important that you’re in that top three or top five position coming out of (the Stompede) because it sets your whole summer up. Then, the pressure’s off you and the pressure’s on the other guys and that’s where you want it. You don’t want to be coming out of there with a deficit and struggling to climb your way back up (the standings).”
Dreger will be running under the Ruskin Construction tarp this week.
Wednesday, you can catch him in heat four, barrel three alongside Lane Kimble, Rick McRorie, and Eric Rever.