Last year's winner Neste Effe is the overwhelming favourite for this year's running of Finland's Prix d'Etain Royal one of three UET Masters Series races on Easter weekend, as the European spring-summer circuit hits the track running.
The Group one event worth 110,000 euros has been brought forward a couple of weeks this year which surprisingly puts the race head to head with other big international races in France and Norway.
Nesta Effe was supreme in the early part of last season, with wins in the opening two of the five Finnish international Group ones for elite aged horses.
The Italian-bred stallion son of Sweden'sfollowed up the win in the Prix d'Etain Royal, with a win in the FInlandia Ajo and a second in Norway's Oslo Grand Prix before a win in a heat of Sweden's Elitloppet highlighted a fine Spring programme.
An unplaced effort when hampered for a run in the final heralded two further unplaced starts before being put aside until January when he prepared for an unsuccessful shot at the Prix d'Amerique with a warm up race in Florence Italy.
Neste Effe fronted up in Turin in mid February to take out the Italian Group two Gran Premio Mario Locatelli before returning to France where he was unplaced in the Grand Criterium de Vitesse at his last start on March 9.
None of the others in this field have been competing at this level and Holger Ehlert's handsome chestnut , who will be driven by usual pilotwill be at very short odds, being at less than even money in early markets.
Bergsaker trainer Svante Bath's well-performed Quid Pro Quo has been a group one performer since a 2YO when he ran third in the only Group 1 for babies in Sweden, the tongue-twisting UppfÃ¶dningslÃ¶pning. He followed that up with a win in Italy's Group 1 Orise Mangelli for 3YOs and last year was the Swedish Group one Sprintermasteren final winner for 4YOs.
The son ofhas also had group one placings in Norway and Germany to prove that travel will not bother him, although just an early 5YO, it is age that might be against the rising star in an aged group one.
B.W.L Champion is a veteran journeyman with 20 race wins capped off with a win in Norway's group two Radio Metro Cup last year, his only win in group company in seven seasons on the track. But the 9YO son ofis a tough old campaigner and as followers of European trotting know, these guys can keep their speed well into their second decade.
Ex-pat Finn Reijo Liljendahl who was Swedish legend's right-hand man for 35 years until abruptly going out on his own last year at the age of 58 has the classy Monster Drive entered, and the son of Tap In has come in for a lot of support.
Other local hopes will be on Jarno Kauhanen's Swedish Import Womanizer, a 10YO roan journeyman who is as tough as old boots
And the Finns also have two other local stars in the race, including last season's Finnish TravDerby winner Quite an Avenger who has had two second this term and a former Finnish St Leger winner She Loves You who will have star Swedish driverhooking up again. The group one winning mare who has won big races in Sweden and raced in France and returned to winning form last start after a long absence.
PRIX D'ETAIN ROYAL Seinäjoki
19/04/14 GROUP 1 UET MASTERS SERIES Int 4-12 2100m €110 000
1 Nesta Effe (h Naglo - Etna Sec) Dr: Roberto Vecchione Tr: Holger Ehlert 2100
2 Quite An Avenger (v Quite Easy - Nobes Hanover) Mika Forss Dr: Markku Nieminen 2100
3 Monster Drive (h Thai Tanic - Kewpie) Dr: Per Lennartsson Tr: Reijo Liljendahl 2100
4 Womanizer (v Tap In - Sandra Nibs) Dr: Tommi Kylliäinen Tr: Jarno Kauhanen 2100
5 She Loves You (s Love You - Sj's Shad Roe) Dr: Johnny Takter Tr: Jörgen Westholm 2100
6 Surprise Lord (h Classic Response - Beauty Bro) Dr: Iikka Nurmonen Tr: Timo Hulkkonen 2100
7 Prussia (s Ken Warkentin - Elvezia) Dr: Pietro Gubellini Dr: Tr: Pietro Gubellini 2100
8 Quid Pro Quo (h Yankee Glide - Hostage) Dr: Erik Adielsson Tr: Svante Båth 2100
9 Pitch Command (v Scarlet Knight - Magyare Turgot) Dr: Jorma Kontio Tr: Mia Kjellman 2100
10 B.W.L.Champion (v Pine Chip - Lovely ) Dr: Ville Karhulahti Tr: Petri Salmela 2100by David Sanders, for Harnesslink.com