by Thomas Hedlund
The $151,000 Seinäjoki Race was the main event on the Saturday’s (April 17) race card in Seinäjoki, Finland and two horses were in favorite position ahead of the show. Italian-bred Vernissage Grif, trained and driven by Alessandro Gocciadoro and Heavy Sound, driven by Kenneth Haugstad, trained by Daniel Redén were predicted to battle, but when the car left the field, the race immediately became anticlimactic. Vernissage Grif didn’t even connect behind the car. The chestnut colored 7-year-old acted overstrained and made an early break. Heavy Sound couldn’t defend his position in front from post 1 when Johan Untersteiner sent Dear Friend (Orlando Vici) to the lead and Heavy Sound lost his gait and went off stride.
With the two favorites out of the game, Johan Untersteiner steered the race just as he wanted and Dear Friend cruised to safe win in mile rate 1:55.2 over 1.3 miles.
Eight-year-old Dear Friend has developed well during the last three seasons and she now belongs in top among mares in Europe. Her ability to leave behind the gate is worth a lot on 5/8 miles tracks and trainer Untersteiner announced that he is willing to see his horse in bigger races during the spring and summer.
Another wire-to-wire win was recorded in Paris, when the $125,000 Prix Henri Levesque for 5-year-olds was held. Philippe Billard-trained Gu d’Heripre (Coktail Jet), who was one of the participants in this year’s Prix d’Amérique, is definitely one of the best horses in France — at least one of the more interesting trotters among the crops 5-year-olds and younger. In the hands of Franck Nivard, the horse left quickly for the lead. When in front, Nivard made sure that the chasers were at safe distance and when Green Grass tried to challenge on the outside throughout the last turn, Gu d’Heripre had a lot of power to use in the race’s finish.
A very comfortable win in a mile rate of 1:54.3 over 1.3 miles impressed. Gu d’Heripre will most certainly face a season where several big wins will be collected.
Who’s Who grabbed a ticket
Pasi Aikio’s Who’s Who (Maharajah) was strongest when the second elimination of the Paralympiatravet (final on May 8 at Åby) was held at Bergsåker racetrack in Sweden on Saturday afternoon (April 17).
Örjan Kihlström drove carefully in second, third over, and Who’s Who had to do the tough job three wide during the race’s last half mile. Leader Disco Volante had a bad day and capitulated at the top of the stretch, while Who’s Who sprinted to an easy win in a mile rate of 1:55.4 over 1.3 miles.
Who’s Who is undefeated after two attempts 2021 and will enter the final of Paralympiatravet as one of the serious players in the game even if the field seems to reach very high level this year.
Very Kronos, who got an invitation to the Paralympiatravet before the Saturday’s race, made his debut for the season and finished as runner up behind Who’s Who.
French bred Gelati Cut, who will race in the Paralymoiatravet, finshed second to Gu d’Heripre in Paris on Saturday afternoon and with participants such as Delia du Pommereux, Ecurie D. and Racing Mange in the field, the final at Åby in May will be a spectacular show and a great kick off for the summer season in northern Europe.