by Thomas Hedlund
Top Swedish driver Örjan Kihlström reached a big milestone on Friday (Oct. 29) afternoon as he competed at his home track Solvalla. In the first race on the card, Kihlström claimed win number 7,000 in his career His first victory also came at Solvalla in 1980.
Kihlström, 59, is known for his cool behavior in the bike and during the past 10-15 years, he has dominated several big races throughout Europe and he can look back on wins in the Elitloppet (four times), Prix d’Amérique, Swedish Derby (four times), Kriteriet (seven times), Oaks (eight times), Stochampionatet (eight times), Sprintermästaren (six times), Prix de France (two times) and Prix de Paris (two times).
The 2015 Hall Of Fame inductee has, again, had a tremendous year as a driver. He has collected some of the biggest races in Europe and the two biggest at Solvalla during 2021.
In May, he won Elitloppet with Don Fanucci Zet and in late September he claimed Svenskt Travkriterium for 3-year-olds with Francesco Zet.
Trying to describe Örjan Kihlström’s way of driving trotters depends on who is asked in the industry. Driving a horse completely tired in a race is something that he dislikes a lot and it’s not unusual that he sometimes shows up in the serious stride a bit too late, but that’s a tactic that often pays back to him in later races with the same horse. When he’s behind the best horse in a race, a first over trip doesn’t scare him and it’s just that simple that Örjan Kihlström has what it takes to become one of the best drivers in the world. It’s in his blood.
And speaking of Kihlström. When Solvalla held the Breeders Crown eliminations last Sunday (Oct. 24), he had 11 shots on the card. He won five of them and qualified nine out of 11 horses that he drove for the four finals at Eskilstuna on Nov. 7. What an achievement!
Swedish drivers Jorma Kontio (born in Finland) and Björn Goop are ahead of Örjan Kihlström when it comes to sulky victories in the northern European countries.