by Thomas Hedlund
The $110,000 Norrbottens Stora Pris in Boden, Sweden is a true highlight for harness racing fans in summertime every year, but as previously announced, due to COVID-19, the public still has to stay at home watching races on devices or television instead of visiting racetracks in Sweden.
The midnight sun paints the racetrack of Boden in spectacular colors at this time of the year and Norrbottens Stora Pris is a race — literally held during daylight around midnight close to the Arctic Circle — that many trainers and owners aim at after the Elitloppet weekend.
On Friday May 29, the day before Solvalla’s great weekend, a grey horse named Antonio Tabac (Crazed) won an overnight mile race at a smaller track in Sweden in 1:51.4, which gave a clue about the trotter’s ability. That ability was also shown two seasons ago, when he something of a rookie of the year in Sweden. His comeback in higher-staked races began on Saturday night, in Boden and Norrbottens Stora Pris.
Finnish driver Mika Forss was entrusted behind Jörgen Westholm’s trainee and one great attribute that Antonio Tabac has developed throughout the years is his ability to leave quickly behind the gate. So the tactics were simple: send Antonio Tabac to the front and try to stay there as long as possible.
And this time, horses such as Makethemark, Milliondollarrhyme and Mindyourvalue W.F. were out of chance to touch the leader Antonio Tabac, who easily sprinted to safe win in a mile rate of 1:54.2.
Makethemark held strongly as the runner up from position first over and Dreamoko finished best of all horses to third place after a trip deep down in the field.
Top trotters are missing in Norway
The $68,500 Oslo Grand Prix over 1.3 miles is a true product of the COVID-19 situation in 2020. The field of 10 horses is not a bad one, but not close to the standard fans are used to when Oslo’s biggest summer meeting is on the schedule.
The purse has been reduced and now the Oslo Grand Prix seems more or less like a normal gold division race for the elite in northern Europe.
Anyway, the race will be held today (June 14) and Finnish star Elian Web had big luck once again when the draw was held. Elian Web started from post one behind the gate in Elitloppet elimination two weeks ago and had no problems in defending the lead in that race. So there are many reasons thinking that Jorma Kontio will send the son of Like A Prayer to front position even in this race.
Italian-bred Vitruvio makes his first start for trainer Björn Goop and the duo is considered as a hot threat regarding winning the prestigious race.
Horse – Driver
Elian Web — Jorma Kontio
Ble du Gers — Per Oleg Midtfjeld
Rebella Matters — Frode Hamre
Mister F Daag — Robin Bakker
Vitruvio — Björn Goop
Tsunami Diamant — Jörgen Sjunnesson
Madelen L.T.C. — Eirik Höitomt
Evil Enok M.E. — Noral Braekken
Looking Superb — Jomar Blekkan
Gigant Invalley — Gunnar Austevoll
Moilanen hit 7,000
One of Finland’s best drivers of all time, Ari Moilanen, 58, reached a great milestone on Thursday evening in his home country. Moilanen became the third driver in Finland to record 7,000 career wins. Only Jorma Kontio, with over 11,000 wins, and Antti Teivanen, with 7,939 victories, have more.
Moilanen began in the sulky in 1978 and had to wait until 1981 before his first victory came. His best year at the tracks was 2001, when he visited the winner’s circle on 304 occasions.