by Thomas Hedlund
Elitloppet day is here and the big question is: who will win the prestigious mile race during the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced the race to go ahead without spectators?
Harness Racing Update can’t give the correct answer hours ahead of the races at Solvalla, but a short presentation of every contender can probably help some fans to figure out the winner of Elitloppet 2020
(Heat 1 is scheduled for 11:20 a.m. EDT; Heat 2 is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. and the Elitloppet final will be at 2:30 p.m. EDT)
Horses in Heat 1:
1. Vivid Wise As (Yankee Glide) Björn Goop trains and drives the Italian-bred horse that was the betting company’s first choice until the horse’s last performance, where Vivid Wise As’ gait was doubtful. Post one is probably good enough to take the horse to final.
2. Sorbet (Super Photo Kosmos) is one out of three 9-year-olds in the race this year and he has reached a high level again, just as he did last year in May. A good starting position means a good chance to reach final.
3. Disco Volante (Scarlet Knight) was the dominant horse in Sweden during the winter and spring, but made an early break in the Paralympiatravet and his condition is a bit fuzzy. He is the favorite to reach the front position and final.
4. Missle Hill (Muscle Hill) won his first race in Sweden in the Fyraåringseliten on this day last year and the 5-year-old seems to have progressed. A dark horse in the race, but can leave very quickly behind the gate.
5. Chief Orlando (Orlando Vici) is bred in Norway, owned and trained in Finland and driven by one of the hottest drivers in Sweden, Rikard N Skoglund. Quick behind the gate and impressed at Solvalla in April.
6. Milliondollarrhyme (Ready Cash) is one of the most interesting horses in the field this year. Very strong in the finish and showed great capacity in top stakes races last year. Can very well win the final.
7. Looking Superb (Orlando Vici) is back in Norway after successful years in Jean-Michel Bazire’s stable in France. He is very strong at the end of his races, but post 7 can be difficult to solve and he needs luck.
8. Earl Simon (Prodigious) is top seeded in this heat and post 8 makes the race very hard to solve. Driver Franck Ouvrie has no routine in driving on short tracks such as Solvalla, but the horse is good enough to reach final, and win it.
1. Elian Web (Like A Prayer) won the Paralympiatravet from the lead and is heavy favorite to grab the front position, and the victory, in this heat. Jorma Kontio, the winningest driver in the northern European countries would really like to win Elitloppet and he has his shot this year.
2. Billie de Montfort (Jasmin de Flore) has competed among the best horses in Europe since she was 3 years old and the French ”B-crop” is considered one of the best ever. Billie is quick, uncomplicated and strong mentally.
3. Tae Kwon Deo (Muscle Hill) won the Sprintermästaren in Halmstad last summer and showed that two heats suits him well. He posted a very positive performance in his last outing and from a great post position is a serious factor.
4. Attraversiamo (Kiss Francais) won the Swedish Derby over 1.6 miles last year and has been aimed to the Elitloppet for a while. He won his mile preparation race at Solvalla in impressive style and is considered one of the hottest horses in the final.
5. Cokstile (Quite Easy) has found a higher level in Italian trainer Rocco Spagnulo’s barn and can do the job outside of probably leader Elian Web, and still win.
6. Racing Mange (Orlando Vici) won the qualification race in Gävle last week and comes to Solvalla in great shape. Post 6 is tricky since the horse is quick enough to reach the lead if driver Joakim Lövgren wants, but a move like that will cost.
7. Makethemark (Maharajah) opened the season by winning in Solvalla and was predicted a super spring and summer after last year’s third place in Elitloppet. Uncertain performances two times in a row leaves question marks to his condition.
8. Propulsion (Muscle Hill) makes his fifth attempt in the race. He hasn’t started since January and his shape is most probably not as good as in his previous four starts in Elitloppet. He has the highest capacity of all contenders, but needs luck from post 8.
World record performance at Solvalla
Elitloppet weekend opened on Friday at Solvalla and the Saturday race card contained big races where the $96,500 Harper Hanover’s race over 3,140 meters was the main event.
The TV audience got to see a world record performance by Björn Goop trained Moni Viking (Maharajah) in the 1.95-mile race. Moni Viking had 40 meters to catch up with the horses in front and Björn Goop solved the objective smoothly by placing the 7-year-old colt in perfect spot in second line when 5/8ths of a mile remained. The last kilometer was impressive by the chestnut colored colt and Moni Viking disarmed leader Ivory di Quattro easily at the last stretch.
The mile rate, 1:55.3, is a world record over 3,180 meters on a 5/8 mile track.