by Thomas Hedlund
The $360,000 Paralympiatravet final was held at Åby racetrack in Gothenburg, Sweden on Saturday afternoon (May 8) and the thrilling field of nine trotters offered a spectacular show for the harness racing fans.
Quite unexpectedly, Who’s Who and Örjan Kihlström was eager to reach the lead after 450 meters and Kihlström had obviously one important thing in mind, to keep first choice Ecurie D. and Björn Goop on his outside. The hard staking from Kihlström’s part cost a lot and the front horses reached the first 500 meters in way too high pace (approximately :26.4 for the first quarter) with Who’s Who in the lead.
Ecurie D. had to do the job as first over and the horse was beaten already with 500 meters to go. Aetos Kronos attacked from second over at the back stretch and in his back Delia du Pommereux (Niky) followed easily for driver Eric Raffin. Aetos Kronos fought strongly three wide, but Jerry Riordan’s Bold Eagle son couldn’t defend himself when Eric Raffin calmly asked Delia du Pommereux for some more speed at the stretch and the 8-year-old super mare sprinted to safe win in mile rate 1:54.
Very Kronos, placed in fourth over, finished very well as runner up and Aetos Kronos claimed the bronze medal. The entourage surrounding Delia du Pommereux received a ticket for Elitloppet directly after the race, but it’s not at all certain that trainer Sylvain Roger will go back to Sweden in three weeks.
The impact of Raffin — completely incomprehensibly — getting suspended three days with an additional fine of approximately $1,500 for using the whip incorrectly may make it harder to attract French trainers and drivers to Sweden again.
This fine and suspension for Raffin is, in my opinion, evidence of Swedish harness racing’s judges’ lack of knowledge, interest and comprehension for the sport for which they work. Judgements like this are a disgrace for the sport, especially when it’s clear that it seems so much easier to judge foreign drivers racing in Sweden.
Please, take three minutes and look at the race and then tell me what Raffin is doing wrong (Horse number 4, Raffin in black colors in third over)
Royal winners at Åby
The first two high staked races for 4-year-olds 2021 were on Åby’s race card on Saturday (May 8) afternoon. The $240,000 The King’s Pokal for colts and geldings became a quite sleepy story when heavy favorite Önas Prince, paired with trainer Per Nordström, hit the lead at an early stage.
Önas Prince was allowed to keep very low pace midway into the race and when it was time for home stretch, Önas Prince had ditched all opponents except American bred Rome Pays Off, who followed easily after a pocket trip. Robert Bergh opted for open stretch with Rome Pays Off and the horse flew over the stretch. When the wire was hit, it wasn’t obvious who won the race. The photo showed that leader Önas Prince (Chocolatier) held on by a nose in moderate mile rate 1:57.2 over 1.3 miles.
Rome Pays Off finished second ahead of Patricia Hogan bred Jacoby Keeper (Conway Hall-So Wonerful).
In the $240,000 Queen’s Pokal for 4-year-old mares, Bergh drove with great confidence behind American-bred Fifty Cent Piece (Muscle Hill—Thatsnotmyname) and came to the lead after a quarter of a mile, when first choice trotter Eagle Eye Sherry and Björn Goop chose a trip in second.
Fifty Cent Piece, owned by SRF Stable, who claimed the horse for $500,000 in Lexington 2018, won her elimination in great style and was too tough to beat when she reached the front position in Saturday’s final, even if first over trotter Honey Mearas deserves high grades for the effort.
The mile rate for Fifty Cent Piece was 1:56.4 over 1.3 miles.
Alrajah One impressive in Italy
Alessandro Gocciadoro’s Derby winner Alrajah One (Maharajah) was outstanding in the $185,000 Gran Premio Freccia d’Europa in Naples on Saturday afternoon (May 8). Gocciadoro sent his trotter to the lead and in the last turn they said goodbye to the rest of the field. Alrajah One noted a mile of 1:53.1, which must be considered as very fast in Naples and Gocciadoro continues to win high staked races in Europe. Gocciadoro is not only licensed in his home country Italy, he also has received a Swedish trainer’s license. Solvalla is his home track in Sweden and he has Vivid Wise As ready for a start in the Elitloppet on May 30.
Alrajah One will most certainly be a name that will be mentioned in the coming weeks ahead of the big mile race in Stockholm.