Inoubliable, the princess of France

by Thomas Hedlund

The best 3-year-old fillies bred in France gathered at Vincennes on Saturday (Nov. 27) afternoon when the $125,000 Criterium des pouliches was on the card.

The bettors’ first choice, Philippe Moulin-trained Inoubliable (Prodigious) proved to be best. The 3-year-old chestnut filly started slowly in the back of the 14-horse field, but driver Jean Philippe Dubois realized quickly that he had to make a move three wide and the duo hit the lead with a kilometer to go in the 2,700 meters long race.

Inoubliable had everything under complete control over Vincennes’ home stretch and she collected the sixth win of her career.

Earlier this year, Inoubliable claimed titles in the $115,000 Prix Gelinotte and the $115,000 Prix Roquepine. The mile rate over 1.6 miles was 1:59.3.

On Saturday, the 3-year-old colts battled in the $115,000 Prix Jacques de Vauloge over 2,700 meters and first choice Italiano Vero (Ready Cash), paired with David Thomain, hit the lead with a little less than 2,000 meters to go and even if the power ran out of the Philippe Allaire trained 3-year-old in the end, he held strong finisher Ideal Ligneries behind him at the wire.

Italiano Vero claimed his 10th victory in his career and his biggest triumph so far came in $191,500 Prix Albert Viel at Vincennes in June this year.

The mile rate for winner Italiano Vero: 1:59.4 over 1.6 miles.

Fairy-tale ending of a 57-year long career

Swedish trainer and driver Hans-Owe Sundberg has decided to retire from harness racing after spending 57 years in the industry. On Friday night (Nov. 26), Sundberg had his last horse in a race.

The $65,750 Solvalla Grand Prix for 4-year-olds over 1.3 miles was on the menu at Solvalla and Sundberg had Selected News (Maharajah) in the race. Paired with Magnus A Djuse, Selected News belonged among the upsets since Per Nordström’s Önas Prince and Daniel Redén’s Sister Sledge were favorited by the bettors.

Önas Prince (post 1 behind the gate) was the heavy favorite, but Nordström’s trotter disliked the surface at Solvalla this cold night and made a break after 150 meters, trying to defend the front position. Sister Sledge (post 12 behind the gate) had to attack four- and three wide in the first turn and reached position first over after a half mile, while the pace was set high by leader Mr Mah Can.

Sister Sledge was beaten at the backstretch and Selected News got the order to attack at the same time. Sundberg’s trotter easily disarmed new leader Zeolit and sprinted to a safe win in a mile rate of 1:56.2. A better ending of a long journey in the harness racing business is hard to find.

Sundberg, 71, recently reached 1,000 victories as a trainer. As a driver, he has collected 2,290 wins.

Elitloppet winner Don Fanucci Zet (Hard Livin) took a safe win from the lead in race for 5- and 6-year-olds the same night. Örjan Kihlström had to push his 5-year-old to the lead after 500 meters and in front, Don Fanucci Zet simply just cruised to safe win in 1:55.3. There are plans on sending the horse to France during the winter and the main objective is Prix d’Amérique for Daniel Redén’s trotter.

Solvalla’s Saturday (Nov. 27) race card contained two big races and in the $65,750 Baroness Karsk’s race for mares, Björn Goop-trained Mellby Free (Muscle Hill) ended her career with a safe wire-to-wire win in strong mile rate 1:55.2 over 1.3 miles. Goop’s 7-year-old top mare had a superior season as a 4-year-old when she won the $525,000 Stochampionatet and the $350,000 Breeders Crown.

Mellby Free reached a great milestone since she won Saturday’s race as she surpassed 10 million Swedish crowns ($1,096,150) in earnings.

A 10-horse field of well-merited older trotters showed up in the $65,750 Silverhästen (final in gold division, V75) over 1.3 miles and Timo Nurmos’ 5-year-old Brother Bill (From Above) impressed as he won in a mile rate of 1:55.4. Driver Jorma Kontio chose an optimistic tactic from start, but had to find himself be positioned in third over after the first half mile. Kontio still had the optimistic feeling behind his horse and Brother Bill got another order to attack three wide with a half mile to go. In the last turn, the duo landed outside of leader Milliondollarrhyme and Timo Nurmos trotter fought really well as he disarmed the leader at mid-stretch.