by Thomas Hedlund
Three European harness racing association (U.E.T.) races were held at Solvalla on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 30) and in the big European Derby for the 4-year-olds, Drole de Jet, driven and trained by Pierre Vercruysse, won in 1:55.4 (mile rate) over 2.140 meters (1.3 miles).
Four horses came home in 1:55.4 and it was the leader Drole de Jet (Coktail Jet—Likely Jet) that kept his opponents close behind. Vercruysse had some difficulties keeping Drole de Jet on a straight lane in the home stretch, but the judges did not consider that this special incident interfered with the horses that attacked on the outside.
Norwegian bred Born In The U.S.A (Muscle Hill—Christina Rose) finished strongly three wide and was close to the winner. Monark Newmen (Orlando Vici—Lady Value) was strong outside the leader and Gareth Boko (Make It Happen—Vanilla Boko) finished fourth as locked in behind the winner.
“I think this is a horse for the big European races in the future and so far I haven’t stressed (Drole de Jet) in any way. He’s quick behind the gate for being a French horse and I had some hope of getting to the front. The next big objective for Drole de Jet is Criterium Continental in Paris in December,” Vercruysse said after the big victory.
The U.E.T. arranged two additional races during the afternoon in Stockholm. The $123,000 European Championship for 5-year-olds over 1.3 miles saw a big favorite in Readly Express (Ready Cash—Caddie Dream) post an easy 1:55.4 (mile rate) victory. The Timo Nurmos trainee is the big star in the Swedish 5-year-old crop and came into the race off a magnificent performance in Jubileumspokalen at Solvalla in August. This time, driver Jorma Kontio controlled the field of six horses from the lead and Ready Express sprinted to his 11th straight victory.
In the $123,000 European Championship for 3-year-olds, Jerry Riordan-trained Vamp Kronos (Ready Cash—Only Kronos) won in a knock out from third over. Björn Goop put in the highest gear with 600 meters to go and Vamp Kronos sat in front when a quarter of a mile remained of the race. The eight-length victory in a 1:56.1 (mile rate) impressed trainer Riordan, who continues to make this year successful for his stable.
”I have had many fillies that have been mean to handle, but this one is completely different, which is a little bit strange since Ready Cash is her father. She’s like a dream to be around and I’m grateful for that,” Riordan said.
World record in Swedish Kriterium
The $492,000 Kriteriet for Swedish-bred 3-year-olds was held at Solvalla last Sunday (Oct. 1) and the spectators got to witness a spectacular performance from a new star trained by Timo Nurmos.
Nurmos can look back at a weekend where his star Readly Express (Ready Cash) won the European Championship for 5 year olds on Saturday, followed by an impressive win by Villiam (Muscle Hill—Gold Strike) in the Swedish Kriterium on Sunday.
Villiam tried the distance of 2,640 meters (1.6 miles) for the first time in his elimination for the Kriterium two weeks before the final and from outside leader Very Kronos he fought strongly and took a place in the final behind Very Kronos.
For the Kriterium, Nurmos tried to let Villiam race without shoes and with earplugs for the first time. That was a move that worked out well.
Driver Jorma Kontio, with over 10,000 victories, placed Villiam in front early and he let the Muscle Hill son keep a good pace through the whole race. In the last turn, Villiam had 1 1/2-length lead and although Coin Perdu (S.J.’s Caviar) finished strongly from third over, Villiam was unthreatened in the home stretch. Villiam won in a world record time of 1:55.4 (mile rate).
Nurmos was touched by the moment and it’s easy to understand why. This was his sixth winner in the Kriterium since 2006, but Villiam is a special horse since Nurmos not only is the trainer, he is also the breeder and owner. Nurmos also trained and owned Villiam’s mother, Gold Strike, who won 12 out of 24 starts in her career.
“This is the biggest thing for me. My own breeding, my own horse and I knew that Villiam was something special the same day he was born. He is a star and I named him after my grandfather,” Nurmos said with tears in his eyes after the victory.
Svante Båth had five horses in the race and finished second with Coin Perdu, while one of the favourites, Very Kronos, got stressed and never really found his gait behind the car.
Joakim Lövgren’s Husse Boko (Chocolatier) finished third.
Candy la Marc wins Swedish Oaks
As in the Kriterium, a Hambletonian winner also sired the winner of the $344,000 Swedish Oaks for the 3-year-old fillies. Scarlet Knight mare Candy la Marc, owned and trained by amateur Lars Marcussen in Denmark, followed up her strong victory from the lead in the elimination by winning the final from the position behind heavy favorite Dibaba (Ready Cash).
Driver Erik Adielsson made a smart move when he let Dibaba get the front position. In the home stretch, the horse outside the leader was affected by the pace and Candy la Marc got the space she needed to sprint down the leader. This was an upset winner in the Oaks and a dream come true for the people behind the horse.
“With 100 meters to go, I felt that we were going to get it. My horse had a little bit easier trip compared to Dibaba and Candy la Marc was really good. I’m thankful that I got the opportunity to drive this horse in this race,” Adielsson said.
Candy la Marc was the only mare in the race that not had the chance of double prize money and she earned $172,000. The mile rate over the distance 2.140 meter (1.3 miles) was 1:56.4.
Dibaba finished second and earned 172.000 dollars while Run Chica Run (Scarlet Knight) took the third place.
Offspring of 2014 Hambletonian winner Trixton continue to top the sales in Scandinavia.
Leave Your Sox On, a colt by Trixton out of Lindy’s Got Back was sold for $61,500 and the filly Cute And Charming, out of Onika L.B. was sold for $52,000. The new owner of the colt Prometeus, out of Västerbo Collect, paid $49,000. The first crop from Trixton have been desirable so far.
The Kriterium sale was presented in a new format this year. Usually the breeders and buyers spend three days together in connection to the Kriterium, but 2017 has been different. Wenngarn yearling sales opened their doors in 2016 with a one-day of sale in August and many well-bred horses were sold last year. For that reason, Wenngarn offered two sale days in 2017. That made the Kriterium sale one day shorter and the selected sales in Sweden are now concentrated to Kolgjini sales in the end of July and at Wenngarn sales.
The average price at the Kriterium sale was $11,400 (down 15 per cent from 2016) but it’s yet too early to make any conclusions about the climate of the harness racing business after one year with these new conditions. Over all, many expensive horse have been sold in Sweden and Europe this year and for the breeders in Sweden, there is always a chance to get more money after the sale. Breeders of 2-, 3-, and 4-year-old horses earn 20 per cent of purse money, so the chance of a profit does not end when a horse is sold.