by Thomas Hedlund
Spring is in the air and a great race card with several big races was served at Solvalla on Saturday afternoon in Stockholm, Sweden.
The final of gold division of the V75, the C. Th. Ericssons Memorial ($86,150), was the first qualification race for $323,000 Olympiatravet, which is scheduled for April 27 at Åby racetrack. The distance of 1.3 miles is the same as in Olympiatravet and after a trip in fourth over and rolling three wide during most of the last kilometer, Stefan Melander’s American-bred 6-year-old Milligan’s School (Yankee Glide) was strongest in the finish.
Driver Ulf Eriksson had to leave his position in fourth over with approximately a half mile to go and Milligan’s School gave cover three wide to first choice On Track Piraten. But the heavy trip didn’t stop Milligan’s School from disarming leader Handsome Brad shortly before the wire and the trotter came home in a mile rate of 1:55.1.
Milligan’s School will, among others, face Propulsion at Åby in April. Propulsion and Readly Express got their wild cards for the race earlier in March, but it seems like Readly Express will chose a different path to his biggest and last objective for the season, the Elitloppet. Rumors say that Readly Express will race over the mile in Finlandia-ajo in the beginning of May and if that’s the case, the Olympiatravet will lose one of the biggest names eligible for the race.
French-trained Dijon has also got a wild card to Åby and every Saturday towards the final, a qualification race will be held in Sweden.
Double Exposure wins Pixie’s Race
More American-bred trotters showed up at Solvalla on Saturday afternoon. Six-year-old Double Exposure (Donato Hanover) came to the lead relatively easily from number eight behind the gate in Pixie’s Race ($54,000) over the mile and driver Ulf Ohlsson, who replaced Örjan Kihlström, had everything under control in a moderate 1:56.3 win.
Four divisions of the $65,000 Margaretas Tidiga Unghästserie were also held and trainer Mattias Djuse had a great day at work. He was in the bike behind 3-year-old Zola Boko mare Zolly and controlled the field from position first over in a 2:00.3 win over 1.3 miles.
Djuse’s 4-year-old mare Racing Brodde (Prodigious), driven by Rikard N Skoglund, disarmed one of the dominating mares last year, A Sweet Dance, in the home stretch and won in mile rate 2:00.1.
In the division for 3-year-old colts and geldings, the so-far unbeaten talent Fort Knox (Muscle Hill) showed great capacity when he took a wire-to-wire win in 2:00 with Torbjörn Jansson. Fort Knox had made three starts for trainer Svante Båth and won them all before the horse unexpectedly was moved to Pasi Aikios stable two weeks ago.
An impressive finish by 4-year-old Night Brodde (Up And Quick) and Conrad Lugauer ended the Margaretas Tidiga Unghästserie divisions.
Night Brodde attacked quickly three wide in the last turn and had power enough to beat leader Fortune Mearas just before the wire in 1:59.
French trotter Aubrion du Gers earns Elitlopp berth
Solvalla has announced a new horse for the Elitlopp and it’s the French gelding Aubrion du Gers, trained by Jean-Michel Bazire. Bazire will not drive the horses himself and it will most likely be Jos Verbeeck (who has won the Elitloppet twice: in 1993 with Sea Cove and 1999 with Remington Crown) that will steer the 9-year-old trotter at Solvalla.