MLAs from the United Conservative Party will race each other this week.
The first-ever UCP Derby, a fundraising event for the provincial party, will be held at the Track on 2 Horse Racing and Event Centre in Lacombe County on Friday.
The nearly 20 MLAs participating have received the required training, Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr said Wednesday.
“They’ve all had training and have practised how to drive a standardbred cart and horse on the race track,” said Orr, who is co-hosting the event with Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen.
“There will be a number of heats where the MLAs themselves will be out on the track and race against one another. There will be lots of safety pieces in place.
“A couple of outriders will be alongside and some professional jockeys will join in, just in case. We’re going to have fewer racers than usual on the track, just to keep it safer.”
The heat winners will go on to compete against Premier Jason Kenney.
“The premier actually has a fair bit of experience from the track in his growing-up years. His family had sent him out to Ontario for a couple of summers because his uncle was in charge of horse racing there, so he spent, I think, two summers on the racetrack,” said Orr.
Tickets for the UCP Derby are now sold out. Money will also be raised for a couple of local charities at the event, Orr added.
“We felt it was important to support or local community with the times we’re in,” he said.
In addition to the standardbred horse racing event, there will be live music, a dinner and a race featuring MLAs dressed up in T-rex costumes.
Orr praised Track on 2’s efforts to make this event happen.
“The track has worked extensively with Alberta Health Services with licensing and rules, and COVID-appropriate protocols,” he said.
An event like this is “very appropriate for central Alberta,” because many who race horses, and provide feed and other items needed for these kinds of events, live in the area, said Orr.
“It’s an important industry for Alberta, so in a way, we’re trying to support some of that industry as well. I’m also appreciative to Horse Racing Alberta for their support in it and all the owners and trainers who are dedicating time and effort to make this possible.”