Aetos Kronos and Diana Zet crowned king and queen in Sweden
by Thomas Hedlund
The $199,500 Kungapokalen and $199,500 Drottningpokalen — the King’s and Queen’s trophies, respectively — for 4-year-old trotters were held at Åby racetrack on Saturday afternoon and two spectacular races took place in front of an empty grandstand.
The Drottningpokalen for mares was the first big race on the card at Åby and many fans had Ganga Bae (Muscle Hill) as first choice. A torrid start, where two of the most interesting horses made breaks, opened the race up for $550,000 Oaks winner Diana Zet (Hard Livin), who was sent to the front after a quarter of a mile by Örjan Kihlström.
Kihlström had no thoughts of letting Ganga Bae (first over) get the lead and the pace was set quite high during the race’s first 5/8 of a mile.
Diana Zet defended herself well when Jorma Kontio put Ganga Bae in the highest gear with 600 meters to go and the leader even held strongly, finishing challengers behind her when the wire approached.
This was Diana Zet’s third start of the year and trainer Daniel Redén really hit the perfect condition in perfect time.
”Diana Zet had some problems during the winter, we couldn’t train her as much as I wanted to due to a problem with a tooth. So she was in need of some races before she’d hit the best shape and today I had a good feeling,” said Daniel Redén.
Diana Zet’s mile rate over 1.3 miles was 1:56.4. Grande Diva Sisu finished strongly to second place and Tonique used Åby’s open stretch to reach the bronze medal.
When it was time for the boys to fight over the same distance, Courant Stable had a new chance to grab a prestigious trophy. Green Manalishi (Muscle Hill) was, in many ways, the most interesting horse of the day at Åby racetrack. With one race complete in Sweden — where he finished second to Aetos Kronos (Bold Eagle) in the elimination for Kungapokalen — the former U.S.-based trotter was the first choice in the race, but something bothered the Muscle Hill son when the car accelerated from the field of 12 trotters. Green Manalishi, racing without shoes, went off stride and did not have his best day.
Instead, Don Fanucci Zet (Hard Livin) and Kihlström looked to make the day at Åby very special for Redén. Don Fanucci Zet, with very little racing form, fought well in front and was close to victory, but couldn’t defend himself when Jerry Riordan’s champion trotter Aetos Kronos and Johan Untersteiner challenged in home stretch.
Aetos Kronos, who won two finals of $199,500 E3 and $199,500 Breeders Course in 2019, made his comeback at the track in the eliminations two weeks ago. Trainer Riordan has really done his job well during the winter. Aetos Kronos was among the best in the crop last year, but as a 4-year-old, the Bold Eagle son looks more developed and more muscular.
Aetos Kronos’ speed is his best weapon and driver Johan Untersteiner could wait for a definitive attack until the last stretch of the race. But don’t think that Riordan’s horse was served a kind and decent trip before the last battle in the home stretch. Aetos Kronos had to do the heavy job three wide without cover and the performances from the top trio in the race were super.
”Aetos Kronos is really a fantastic horse. It’s an honor to get the opportunity to drive him and he had a great performance today. When I drove him as a 3-year-old, the horse had a closed bridle, which made him a lot more concentrated and focused on what his job is and the difference now, with open bridle, was that Aetos Kronos ran a little bit less straight,” said Untersteiner after the great triumph in a mile rate 1:55.
Don Fanucci Zet finished second and Click Bait third.
Cokstile in 1:52.1
Norwegian-bred Cokstile (Quite Easy) claimed his ticket for the Elitloppet when he, paired with Christoffer Eriksson, won $30,000 Algot Scotts Minne over the mile at Åby on Saturday afternoon.
Seven-year-old Cokstile had to do his job outside of leader Cyber Lane, but had no problem in disarming the leader in the end of the last turn.
The 1:52.1 win was enough to convince Solvalla’s sports manager Anders Malmrot regarding the horse’s spot in the Elitloppet later this month.
Cokstile, trained in Italy – or in Sweden by an Italian trainer – will make his second attempt in the Elitloppet. The Quite Easy colt participated in Solvalla’s biggest race in 2018, when he finished 7th in his Elitloppet elimination.
France opens up for racing Monday?
Harness racing in France is expected to open up with race cards on Monday. In Lille, nine races are on the menu. On Wednesday, big names are entered when the $120,000 Prix des Ducs de Normandie over 2.450 meters is scheduled in Caen.
Bold Eagle, Cleangame, Dijon, Delia du Pommereux, Tony Gio and Earl Simon are some of the top trotters that are engaged to the big race in Caen.
Monday is scheduled as first day of racing in France since the lockdown began in March.