by Thomas Hedlund
The European Driving Championship was contested in Oslo, Norway and Gothenburg, Sweden this week.
The first race card was held at Bjerke racetrack in Oslo on Wednesday evening and Norwegian driver Eirik Höitomt had a great day with the result: 3-2-7-3-1, which was enough to bring him to the lead in the competition.
On Thursday night, French top driver Franck Nivard stole the show at Åby racetrack in Sweden. Nivard, 38, who recently reached 3.000 victories in his career, won three out of five divisions in the competition and the victories became important in more than one way. Dutch driver Rick Ebbinge earned the same points (97) as Nivard, but the French driver got the title by the reason of more victories.
The top six in EDC 2018 are qualified for the World Driving Championship.
Result European Driving Championship 2018 Driver, Country – Points
1. Franck Nivard, France — 97
2. Rick Ebbinge, Netherlands — 97
3. Eirik Høitomt, Norway — 85
4. Michael Nimczyck, Germany — 81
5. Mika Forss, Finland — 79
6. Rodney Gatt, Malta — 70
7. John Richardson, Ireland — 61
8. Hubert Brandstätter, Austria — 56
9. Steen Juul, Denmark — 56
10. Miguel Mestre, Spain — 52
11. Ulf Ohlsson, Sweden — 44
12. Mario Minopoli Jr, Italy — 43
Track record by Perfect Spirit at Rättvik
Hambletonian winner Perfect Spirit (Andover Hall) is still undefeated in Sweden. On Saturday afternoon, at Rättvik racetrack, the 4-year-old trotter won a Breeder’s Crown qualification in track record 1:54.3 (mile rate) over 1.3 miles.
Last year’s Kriterium winner Villiam (trained by Timo Nurmos and world record holder for 3-year-olds over distance 1.7 miles, 1:55.4 as mile rate) made his comeback on the racetrack and finished third behind the American-bred winner who’s next objective is Sprintermästaren over the mile in Halmstad in two weeks.
Four divisions of Breeder’s Crown were scheduled in Rättvik and Timo Nurmos’ 4-year-old mare Gloria Web (Donerail) won for Jorma Kontio
Three-year-old Dream Vacation son Fortune Mearas, trained by Svante Båth, was victorious for driver Per Lennartsson in 1:57.2 and Claes Sjöström drove his own 3-year-old mare Up To Me (Up Front Larry) to victory in 2:00,3.
Bold Eagle back in the game
French star Bold Eagle (Ready Cash) was not at his best in late May when he visited Sweden for the Elitloppet at Solvalla. Due to a judges’ mishap that day, Bold Eagle never got to show the audience what skills he has, but on Sunday afternoon (June 24), the star trotter was back on track.
At Vincennes, Paris, France, the 7-year-old Ready Cash son chased his third consecutive victory in Prix Réné Balliere over approximately 1.3 miles and despite a tough post (9 behind the gate), driver Franck Nivard found the best solution for the Sébastien Guarato-trained trotter.
Nivard smoothly searched the lead and got there after a quick half mile before he could let Bold Eagle breathe for at least 500 meters. With a half mile to go, stablemate Valko Jenilat got in gear three wide and the pace exploded before the last turn. Jean-Michel Bazire’s Belina Josselyn, who beat Bold Eagle in Prix de France in February, got stuck between horses and was too late to challenge the leading winner Bold Eagle.
Bold Eagle added $102,000 to his bankroll and he came home in 1:53.1 (mile rate).
160-1 upset in Prix Albert Viel
There was a big 160-1 upset in the $233,000 Prix Albert Viel for the 3-year-olds at Vincennes but the winner was not first to cross the finish line. Philippe Allaire had two of the favorites in the race, but Flocki d’Aurcy made a break and Feliciano was disqualified as number one, which made Fighter Smart (Uniclove) a winner for Matthieu Mottier.
Elitloppet contender Orlando Jet (Orlando Vici) impressed when he won $95,000 Prix de Grasse from seventh over! The attack three wide started with a half mile to go and the 5-year-old brushed through the last turn and quite easily disarmed his opponents in the home stretch.