Day At The Track

'Elitlopp' most prestigious race in the World

06:02 PM 23 May 2008 NZST
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Exploit Caf and Jean-Michel Bazire
Exploit Caf and Jean-Michel Bazire - Is the actual leader of the International Circuit
Mark Kentell Photo

On Sunday afternoon, eyes will be turning to Solvalla, Sweden, to watch one of the most prestigious trotting races in the World, the Elitloppet. The French interest L'AMIRAL MAUZUN, who won the race last year, will try to win a second title in a row.

Paris (France-TROT)-- The Elitloppet is raced over the mile, in two qualifying rounds and a final. There are fifteen trotters participating this year (the Italian GHIACCIO DEL NORD has been declared sick and is not racing). The first round will be a match at eight, the second a match at seven.

In the first round, EXPLOIT CAF (Jean-Michel Bazire) will start on the inside of the track with his number 1. The Italian horse is trained in France by Fabrice Souloy and is the actual leader of the International Circuit. He won the Prix de France last February, the Prix de l'Atlantique at Enghien in April, and was second behind L'AMIRAL MAUZUN in Oslo. If it weren't for his number 1 behind the gate, he would be the absolute favourite in this year's event.

Wearing number 2 is JOCOSE (Orjan Kihlstrom), a rare grandson of the famous four-time Prix d'Amerique winner OURASI. He didn't qualify for the final last year and hasn't won this year.

With his excellent number 3 behind the mobile gate, GIANT SUPERMAN (Fredrik Larsson) will certainly be one of the leaders from the start. He finished second in the 2005 edition won by STEINLAGER. He hasn't won anything significant this year, but has raced a few times at Solvalla and proved to be a specialist of the track.

OLGA DU BIWETZ (number 4) will be associated to the Belgian four-time Prix d'Amerique winner Jos Verbeeck, the man of the situation when it comes to international events. The French mare has won the Prix de Normandie under saddle last Summer and finished second this year in the Prix de Cornulier, the world's biggest "monte" race. A couple of weeks ago at Caen, she finished fourth in the Prix des Ducs de Normandie with some of the other Elitloppet participants.

FINDERS KEEPERS and Ake Svanstedt are leaving from post number 5. He was fourth in the Sweden Cup last year (same race conditions), and more recently, third in the Olympiatravet. He's an impressive starter and has a driver who knows him well.

Lufti Kolgjini will be driving GOING KRONOS (number 6) and should be the Swedish favourite. He was disqualified in last year's final, but his recent trip to Oslo was impressive. Keep an eye on this one...

L'AMIRAL MAUZUN (Tony Le Beller) won last year's edition of the Elitloppet with Jean-Michel Bazire in the bike. He also won this year's Oslo Grand Prix and will be a logical favourite, despite being victim of blood poisoning last year.

The American interest CITATION (Johnny Takter) is trained in Sweden by Stig H. Johansson and will start from post number 8. He won his qualifying round last year but hasn't won recently.

In the second round, number 1 is GIANT DIABLO, driven by the young but talented Johan Untersteiner. The mare finished fifth in 2007. She's just back from the U.S. where she has equalled the world record on the mile in 1'08"5 (km rate). Starting from post number 1 is not an advantage, but she has the class and the speed to qualify.

Starting from post number 2, the French gelding KITO DU VIVIER (Franck Nivard) should be among the favourites in his round. He has already won at Solvalla and his driver knows him perfectly.

Racing journalists in Scandinavia have a favourite called OISEAU DE FEUX (Bjorn Goop). He won the European Trotting Union Grand Prix last year, and two other races on the mile, including the Hugo Abergs Memorial and the Olympiatravet. However, Jean-Michel Bazire had the choice to drive either EXPLOIT CAF or OISEAU DE FEUX, and preferred the first one... On the other hand, Bjorn Goop is the specialist of Solvalla.

The American candidate ENOUGH TALK will be driven by Luc Ouelette from Canada, and will start with number 4 behind the wings of the starting gate. He was impressive in the Classic Series at Dover Downs, a little disapointing however in the Su Mac Lad final.

PLANTAGENET (Erik Adielsson) will start from post number 5. the gelding was brought up in the States before heading for Stig Johansson's stables in Sweden. He's raced ten times ever since, winning seven of his races. He should be among the favourites of this round, as Johansson really believes in him.

Number 6 is GLEN KRONOS (Lufti Kolgjini), a stablemate of GOING KRONOS. His major problem is the start. Recently in France, he finished fourth in the Prix de l'Atlantique. With a driver like Lufti Kolgjini, however, he's capable of a surprise finish.

Starting with the number 7, RED CHILI PIRAT (Orjan Kihlstrom) finished third in last year's final. He won his latest outing at a lower level after more than six months of absence from the tracks. His driver is probably the key to qualification.

Mark Kentell

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