Calgary’s touchdown horse will gallop into its first Grey Cup Final on Sunday.
Grey gelding Quick Six and his rider Chelsea Drake, carrying on a long-standing Stamps’ tradition, are making the trip to Edmonton this weekend after being shut out of the team’s last two Grey Cup appearances.
Every time the Calgary Stampeders score a touchdown at a home game, Drake takes Quick Six for a ride down the sidelines in celebration. But the pair has never travelled to another city for a Canadian Football League championship.
“I’m so excited, just to be a part of it for the first time. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a great feeling just to be there with the team,” Drake said Friday. “I wish I was there with them the last couple years, but it’s just nice that it’s finally happening.”
The team has long had a white horse matching its trademark mustang logo for games at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium.
The previous rider was Chelsea’s mom, Karyn Drake, who filled the role for 23 years atop another horse that has since retired.
“I started going to games and helping her when I was a little girl, and it was just one of those things that just clicked with me. When I was little I told my mom, ‘I’m going to do this one day,’” said Chelsea, who took the job at age 20.
“It’s still so exciting and I still get that adrenalin rush every game.”
The Quick Six character was introduced in 2003, but Karyn retired with her horse, and Chelsea rode a new one onto the job in 2016.
The Stampeders have made two straight Grey Cups since then, but because the games were played in Toronto and Ottawa, it logistically did not make sense to bring the horse along.
Quick Six will make his Edmonton debut at the Grey Cup Parade on Saturday afternoon, and Karyn is also making the trip to support her daughter.
“I always feel safer when she’s there. I feel more confident,” Drake said.
Drake, who was raised on a farm northeast of Calgary, said she’s nervous to debut in an unfamiliar stadium, but has full confidence in her mount’s abilities.
“It will be all new to him, as well, because he’s so used to McMahon Stadium. But he’ll be fine. I’m not too worried about him,” she said.
Drake said Quick Six knows his job and always does it well.
She plans to show up a couple hours early for the game on Sunday to prepare him for a comfortable run.
“A really good warm-up in the beginning makes us confident that he’ll be fine throughout the whole game. Just to get him feeling good, because if he’s cold running for a touchdown, he’s not going to be feeling that great,” she said.
“He gets pretty antsy, too, so it’s nice to kind of warm him up and just calm him down, and then he’s good to go.”
Saturday’s Grey Cup Parade runs from noon to 1:30 p.m. downtown.
The game, between the Stampeders and the Ottawa Redblacks, is slated for 4 p.m. Sunday at Commonwealth Stadium.