Seventeen in a row for Francesco Zet
by Thomas Hedlund
Solvalla recently honored Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg by changing the name of its Jubileumspokalen 5-year-old race to Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg’s Jubileumspokal. The purse in Wednesday’s (Aug. 16) race was $280,000.
Daniel Redén’s Francesco Zet (Father Patrick) was the heavy favorite in the race and driver Örjan Kihlström had a quick solution for the tricky post 1 behind the gate. High On Pepper from post 2 couldn’t keep Francesco Zet’s pace from the start, so Kihlström easily found the two-wide path before the first turn. Second over became the initial position for Francesco Zet, while Castor The Star found the front position with Mellby Jinx on the outside.
Kihlström was determined to leave his position and at the first back stretch, Francesco Zet was given the signal to attack towards the leader, three wide. But the road to the first over position was harder than Kihlström had in mind since Magnus A Djuse rapidly changed from a pocket trip for a two-wide one, a move that caused a three-wide turn for the favorite before he landed outside Castor The Star with 3/4 of a mile to go.
Francesco Zet just loves to win races, that is a well-known fact for everyone who have seen the horse in action and the way he sprinted away from the attacking opponents in the stretch was impressive. Redén’s homebred trotter came home in a mile rate of 1:53.2 over 1.3 miles.
Borups Victory got a trip far back in the field and when Daniel Wäjersten attacked three wide with a half mile to go, Borups Victory got cover from High On Pepper and the two horses finished strongly throughout the last turn and in the stretch. Borups Victory finished second and High On Pepper third and they both deserved high grades for their performances, respectively.
Francesco Zet dominated as a 3- and 4-year-old in Sweden and Wednesday’s race at Solvalla was the main objective for his 5-year-old season. He has already beaten older trotters in the Norrbottens Stora Pris in mid-June this year and maybe there’s a chance that the Father Patrick son will be aimed for the French winter meeting later on this year.
Runner up trainer Wäjersten experienced a great moment just an hour before the big race at Solvalla. His Great Skills (Ready Cash) was outstanding when the $190,000 European Championship for mares was held over 1.3 miles. Great Skills was pushed to the lead at the first back stretch when early leader Imhatra Am and Mats E Djuse kindly let the favorite take over the front position and the race then became a one-horse show.
Wäjersten stepped on the gas pedal in the last turn and Great Skills sprinted to an outstanding win in a mile rate of 1:54.
Glamorous Rain bested early leader Imhatra Am in the chase for the silver medal after a third inside trip.
The 5-year-old Great Skills was one of the most successful mares in the crop last year and her biggest win so far in her career was the Stochampionatet in July 2022.
BACK ON WINNING TRACK FOR VERNISSAGE GRIF
Alessandro Gocciadoro really has all European trotting countries as his workplace. On Tuesday (Aug. 15),the dominant Italian trainer raced in Montecatini, Italy, where his Varenne son Vernissage Grif claimed the $130,000 Gran Premio Citta’ di Montecatini.
Vernissage Grif won this particular race in 2020 and 2021, but couldn’t defend the title in last year’s edition of the event.
But 2023 was his year again. After a safe elimination win in 1:56.2, Vernissage Grif continued to win the final from the lead in 1:54.3.
City Lux finished second and Bonneville Gifont was third.
EBBINGE LOOKS STRONG IN DRIVING CHAMPIONSHIP
The World Driving Championship is being held in Germany and Belgium and before the event’s last race day, Dutch driver Rick Ebbinge seems to have an insurmountable lead in the competition.
After the races in Mons, Belgium on Wednesday (Aug. 16), Ebbinge is 33 points ahead of the Australian driver Pete McMullen and it looks to be tough to beat the Dutch champion.
Ebbinge won the title for drivers in 2019 and is now trainer and driver mostly in Sweden.
America’s Jordan Ross picked up a win in Mons on Wednesday’s race card. Ross won with Lotus EV and he is number 7 before the last competition in Berlin on Friday (Aug. 18).
WORLD DRIVING CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER 3 DAYS OF RACING
Driver — Country — Points
1. Rick Ebbinge — The Netherlands — 139
2. Pete McMullen — Australia — 106
3. Hanna Huygens — Belgium — 105
4. Santtu Raitala — Finland — 103
5. Michael Nimczyk — Germany — 97
6. Doug McNair — Canada — 93
7. Jordan Ross — USA — 93
8. Blair Orange — New Zeeland — 89
9. Miodrag Pantic — Serbia — 68
10. Rodney Gatt — Malta — 59
NEW CONDITIONS FOR SECOND E3 FINAL OF THE YEAR
The E3 for 3-year-olds faces its second finals for the season on Saturday (Aug. 19) and the news this year is that the E3 at over 1,640 meters (2,140 meters in the first final in July) will be held without eliminations. So, it’s (probably) the best horses that will battle directly in just one race (two divisions) with the purse $190,000.
Ten fillies are chasing the trophy at Romme racetrack in one division and Alessandro Gocciadoro is there with his Esmeralda Bez (Maharajah) from post 3 behind the gate.
Mattias Djuse has four weapons in the race for fillies. A Teaser (Flocki d’Urzy), Larah Westwood (The Bank), Knickers Sisu (Southwind Frank) and Frustration (Fourth Dimension) are all good enough to battle for the win in Saturday’s race. Coral Coger (Ken Warkentin), who won the E3 at over 2,140 meters in July is in the race, but post 8 was surely not what the horse’s entourage hoped for.
When the 3-year-old colts and geldings show up, Gocciadoro will be the big favorite with Expo Wise As (Ready Cash), who has impressed a lot during the season and who is defending the title from the previous E3 final in July.
E3 — COLTS AND GELDINGS
Horse — Sire — Driver
1. Expo Wise As — Ready Cash — Alessandro Gocciadoro
2. Immortal Doc — Brillantissime — Carl Johan Jepson
3. Vegas Wania — Father Patrick — Magnus A Djuse
4. Caviar From Mine — S.J.’s Caviar — Björn Goop
5. S.G.Dracarys — Bold Eagle — Örjan Kihlström
6. Epsom As — Muscle Mass — Ulf Ohlsson
7. Global Escape — S.J.’s Caviar — Daniel Wäjersten
8. Frank S.H. — Fourth Dimension — Fredrik Persson
9. Fiftyfour — Fourth Dimension — Ken Ecce
10. King Of Twilight — Bold Eagle — Stefan Persson
E3 — FILLIES
Horse — Sire — Driver
1. A Teaser — Flocki d’Urzy — Erik Adielsson
2. Kinglet Bird — Nuncio — Örjan Kihlström
3. Esmeralda Bez — Maharajah — Alessandro Gocciadoro
4. Larah Westwood — The Bank — Magnus A Djuse
5. Kitty Hawk — Fourth Dimension — Björn Goop
6. Knickers Sisu — Southwind Frank — Ulf Ohlsson
7. Willa Explosive — Explosive Matter — Mats E Djuse
8. Coral Coger — Ken Warkentin — Rikard N Skoglund
9. Loveletter In — Father Patrick — Carl Johan Jepson
10. Frustration — Fourth Dimension — Daniel Wäjersten