One of Manitoba’s greatest-ever horsemen


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/09/2021 (623 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s official. The 80-year-old who interrupted an early horse-training career to make French fries at a potato processing plant in his hometown of Carberry – then returned to horses with a vengeance 11 years ago – is now one of the greatest horsemen to ever saddle a horse in the province.

It became official when his seven-year-old gelding, Plentiful, the winner of the Manitoba Derby in 2017, won the Gold Cup Stakes last week in a grueling stretch drive. That gave owner/trainer Murray Duncan the top male horse to go along with the top female (Miss Imperial) on the grounds, an achievement no other trainer has attained.

It’s been some ride for the octogenarian. Who goes down south, actually Hot Springs, Ark., in the winter and comes back – after two separate visits – with a $15,000 U.S. gelding who would win the Manitoba Derby and, last year, a $25,000 US female who would win a whopping eight stakes races?

Photo by Jason Halstead / ASD With trophies in the winner’s circle after Plentiful won the Gold Cup Stakes are co-owner Audrey Farol, jockey Stanley Chadee, Jr., and co-owner/trainer Murray Duncan.

It helped to have Lady Luck on his side, too. Two other trainers had put in a claim for Miss Imperial at Oaklawn Park, the track in Arkansas, and it was Duncan who won the three-way shake.

Speaking of luck, trainer Michael Nault has it in spades, too. He went down to Kentucky last fall looking to buy a two-year-old at a yearling sale and spent all of $2,000 US on a New York-bred gelding named Diamond Digger.

Fast forward to ASD – Diamond Digger has emerged as the buy of the year (decade?). He has won all four of his races, three of them stakes races including the vaunted Winnipeg Futurity and earned almost $60,000 US, 30 times his purchase price.

And the horse is just two! This will be a horse you’ll want to follow next year.

Continuing in the “lucky” vein, how lucky is this? An Assiniboia Downs player on his HPIbet account wagered $12 at a southern California track, Del Mar, on a bet called the “place pick all.” That’s a bet in which your horse needs to finish first or second in each race. His made that happen and collected $14,400. Yes, for just $12.

With live racing coming to an end on Wed.,  Sept. 15, such big scores are possible almost daily on tracks from around the continent and down under in Australia.

Simulcast racing goes daily at the Downs from about 11:30 a.m. to past midnight with Australian horses actually running in the afternoon of the following day.

I look forward to hearing from those of you who may be interested in my workshops to become serious players – email me at  

Oh yes, the final Manitoba Night Market of the season goes this Sunday at the Downs from 1 to 11 p.m. with admission of $7. Parking is $5 and all 140 VLTs are now open every day from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Ivan Bigg

Ivan Bigg
At the Races

Ivan Bigg is a railbird and handicapper at Assiniboia Downs.

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