by Thomas Hedlund
The 2020 Elitloppet will be remembered as an empty party for some of the best trotters in Europe that have arrived in Stockholm for the weekend. Despite the fact the Elitloppet will be held without spectators at Solvalla due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the interest for the race has been gigantic and pretty much as usual.
Sadly, the predicted nice weather and incredible race cards at Solvalla Saturday and Sunday have been somewhat overshadowed by more negative headlines and comments at the end of last week.
The sports management at Solvalla received a lot of negative criticism on social media and the scope of disparaging comments from several groups of so called harness racing fans reached levels that never have been seen before.
All this is a small part of the charm that surrounds the Elitloppet — the incredible fan interest.
In this case, the criticism revolved around which horses grabbed the last two or three spots in the big race. Some fans, obviously, did not like Solvalla’s choices and led to online attacks on horses, trainers, Solvalla and the Elitloppet as an event.
Anders Malmrot, the sports manager at Solvalla, has done what he can to invite the best trotters in Europe and if we try to look at the two heats with objective opinions, he has succeeded.
“Of course, there are horses that I dreamt of having in the race this year. Face Time Bourbon is number one, but regarding him, I knew already after the Prix d’Amérique that he wouldn’t come. His trainer, Sébastien Guarato, told me ‘no’ to 2020, but made a promise to come to Elitloppet next year. Otherwise, it’s an American horse that’s missing and Gimpanzee is the horse that I wanted to see in the field. Corona and the whole situation with the world-spread virus made it very difficult to invite horses from America, obviously,” Malmrot told HRU on Thursday afternoon.
Race cards at Solvalla May 29-31 card be viewed here.
Elitloppet heat 1
Sunday, May 31 – 5.20 p.m. (local time – 11:20 a.m. EDT)
Vivid Wise As – Björn Goop
Sorbet – Per Linderoth
Disco Volante – Carl Johan Jepson
Missle Hill – Johan Untersteiner
Chief Orlando – Rikard N Skoglund
Milliondollarrhyme – Fredrik B Larsson
Looking Superb – Jomar Blekkan
Earl Simon – Franck Ouvrie
Elitloppet heat 2
Sunday, May 31 — 5.45 p.m. (local time – 11:45 a.m. EDT)
Elian Web – Jorma Kontio
Billie de Montfort – Gabriele Gelormini
Tae Kwon Deo – Adrian Kolgjini
Attraversiamo – Erik Adielsson
Cokstile – Christoffer Eriksson
Racing Mange – Joakim Lövgren
Makethemark – Ulf Ohlsson
Propulsion – Örjan Kihlström
The most open race in history?
Elitloppet 2020 appears, in advance, to be one of the most open editions in the long history of the race. Sixteen horses are ready for battle and 16 horses can really win the final, even if only eight of them will advance for the big fight on Sunday evening.
Propulsion and Earl Simon were seeded as the two best horses in the field and they both got post eight behind the gate, which make the race even more spectacular, especially since the talent levels of the contenders is so high.
Earl Simon, trained by Jarmo Niskanen, a Swede in France, is probably, at his very moment, the best French trotter over a mile (if we exclude Face Time Bourbon) and if driver Franck Ouvrie solves the critical post position, Earl Simon will be a factor in the final.
Ouvrie is not named as one of the top drivers in France, but he is calm and has some routine in driving top horses. But 5/8ths mile tracks is not something that Ouvrie is used to in France, so there are question marks surrounding Earl Simon.
American-bred Propulsion enters Elitloppet for a remarkable fifth year in a row. The 9-year-old son of Muscle Hill has reached the final in his four previous attempts, but this year the objective seems tougher than before, especially since Propulsion hasn’t started since January in the Prix d’Amérique in Paris.
Trainer Daniel Redén has done what he can to put Propulsion in the right condition and is confident that the horse is as good as he can be regarding the conditions that prevail.
Atg.se offers odds on every contender ahead of the first elimination and it’s clear that Elitloppet 2020 is a very open story.