Day At The Track

Marika enjoying every minute of her stay here

09:00 AM 10 Sep 2020 NZST
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Swedish driver Marika Eriksson scored her first Australian win on a square gaiter with Orlando Jolt at Kilmore,Harness racing
Swedish driver Marika Eriksson scored her first Australian win on a square gaiter with Orlando Jolt at Kilmore

Former Swedish harness racing driver Marika Eriksson often has to pinch herself when she reflects on her past few years working in Australia - and she's certainly been on something of a lucky run lately!

With a strong harness racing background at home, Eriksson calmly notched up a significant career milestone at Kilmore recently, driving her very first Australian square-gaiter winner in Orlando Jolt (Orlando Vici (Fra)-Galleons Surprise NZ (King Conch US).

"I also received some exciting news in the past couple of days that my work visa out here had been sorted for another four years," Eriksson said.

"I've been very, very lucky. I'm so happy and most humble in regard to the opportunities I've had."

Her milestone win on the four-year-old Orlando Jolt was for her employer, trainer Anton Golino and raced by Ballarat-based Yabby Dam Farms Pty Ltd along with a group of other enthusiasts.

Eriksson works at the state-of-the-art Yabby Dam Farms complex, established by principle Pat Driscoll.

"When I first came out to Australia I got a job with Mattie Craven. I was there for two years and later spent about 18 months with David Aiken, before joining Anton and Pat," she said.

"I've found that since I lost my concession claim, I haven't been getting that many driving offers. In the past six months, I may have had just three drives.

"But I probably enjoy the training side a bit more really - it's a nice feeling to train them up and get them to the races. I really don't mind being on the sidelines."

Eriksson said when Anton asked her if she could take Orlando Jolt to the Kilmore meeting, she wasn't expecting what happened next!

"He sort of quizzed me that I was okay with doing that. I assured him that I was, and then he added that I may as well drive the horse as well!" she said.

"So I went to the meeting by myself, and happily come home with a winner.

"I had driven Orlando Jolt at home plenty of times, but it was the first time I'd taken the reins on him at a race meeting-it was a big thrill, although it did feel more like a fastwork session."

Kilmore has provided Eriksson with other nice memories, including driving her first Australian winner for the Aiken team.

She was successful on Heavenly Shades (Shadow Play-Shalom) on October 9, 2018, and the pair repeated the dose four months later at Maryborough.

"That first win stands out as my favorite. It was so special after I'd made a big move from the other side of the world. But all of them have been pleasant," she said.

While Eriksson has posted seven wins and 19 placings from limited opportunities out here, she was in the winner's circle far more often in Sweden.

After attending a trotting school for three years when she turned 16, she later drove in races as well as competing in Monte events.

"I definitely preferred to drive-I use to get so nervous in the Montes. Dad was a small-time trainer with five or six, but because I lived 10 hours away I didn't do a lot of driving for him," she said.

"My younger sister Isabell drives for dad and she's landed some winners. She works as a groom/stablehand looking after some top horses.

"I haven't been home for two-and-a-half years and was planning a trip this year, but the coronavirus put a stop to that."

Eriksson said harness racing had taken her to a number of places since living in Australia.

"I've been very lucky in doing some trips. I spent a fortnight in New Zealand during the InterDominion looking after the trotter Big Jack Hammer. That was unreal," she said.

Eriksson, who comes from Vemdalen, located in the central part of Sweden, 500 kms from the capital Stockholm, says she still hasn't fully adapted to the chilly weather in Ballarat.

"I probably should have by now because Vemdalen is one of the best ski resorts back home. It always has plenty of snow in winter. While I miss the skiing, Yabby Dam Farms is a lovely place with its peace and quiet. I'm very happy here."


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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