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Defending Finlandia-Ajo champion Nesta Effe faces a stiff challenge to his crown from rising French star Univers de Pan and Swedish star Sanity at Vermo , Saturday night. The group one Finnish race is over the mile distance and Holger Ehlert will have his Italian-bred chestnut journeyman primed for a race in a country in which he has excelled. Neste Effe not only won this race last year,but he also won the Prix Etain Royal the first of the Scandinavian big spring races which was won this year by Warkentin mare Prussia in stunning fashion. She lines up again, but there is a feeling that on paper, last year's was a much stronger field, perhaps due to the untimely clash this season with the Copenhagen Cup. Mr Picolit, who ran third last year is defending his Copenhagen Crown, while Monster Drive who was fourth, chose a trip to Italy last weekend for the Lotteria where he made the final. Commander Crowe, who also appeared in both races last year, has not also reappeared for his 11th season. So this leaves the big three, really looking a class above the opposition in this race. Malin Lofgren's Sanity won four races in France over the lucrative winter period, and also finished second and third, and has a win and two second since he returned to Scandinavian racing. The son of Love You is just a super tough competitor and demands the ultimate respect here. Philippe Daugeard's Univers de Pan is one of the French elite ranks, and the fact that he is racing on the 1000m Scandinavian is something of a coup for the organizers of the race. A true French bred son of Kenya du Pont, the only American bloodlines in his pedigree ironically stem from his sireline, his great-great grandsire being Star's Pride. He is the only one of his fifth line 32 descendants who is American. Not one of the other five lines of pedigree is of US breeding. But that is of interest only to the breeding buff, he was second in the Prix de France and has no less than four group two victories. On a wide open track he'd street this field. The fact that he is putting his credentials on the line on a 1000m track, and an acknowledged hard track at that, speaks of a greater goal. A fast mile time, perhaps with the lucrative Swedish breeding market taking not of performance above such a "French" pedigree. This is a race which has been run since 1980, and is regarded as Finland's biggest trotting event. A few facts Horses with most wins 2 - Giesolo de Lou (1999, 2000) 2 - Napoletano (1988, 1989)[3] Drivers with most wins 3 - Jean-Michel Bazire (2005, 2008, 2009) 3 - Stig H. Johansson (1988, 1989, 2004) 3 - Jorma Kontio (1985, 1986, 2007) 2 - Olle Goop (1983, 1987) 2 - Joseph Verbeeck (1998, 2003) Trainers with most wins 3 - Fabrice Souloy (2003, 2008, 2009) 2 - Jean-Etienne Dubois (1999, 2000) 2 - Stig Engberg (1988, 1989) 2 - Olle Goop (1983, 1987) Sires with most winning offsprings 2 - Biesolo (Giesolo de Lou, Oiseau de Feux) 2 - Quick Pay (Atas Fighter L., Born Quick) 2 - Texas (Grades Singing, Copiad) 2 - Super Bowl (Davidia Hanover, Napoletano Countries, number of wins 10 - United States 9 - France 7 - Sweden 4 - Finland Fastest winners 1:10.6 (km rate) - Quarcio du Chene (2010) All winners of Finlandia-Ajo[edit] Year Horse Driver Trainer Winning horse's native country Winning time 2013 Nesta Effe Roberto Vecchione Holger Ehlert Italy 1:10.9 2012 Sebastian K Björn Goop Björn Goop Sweden 1:11.1 2011 Commander Crowe Jean-Michel Bazire Fabrice Souloy Sweden 1:13.7 2010 Quarcio du Chene Björn Goop Björn Goop France 1:10.6 2009 Igor Font Jean-Michel Bazire Fabrice Souloy France 1:11.8 2008 Oiseau de Feux Jean-Michel Bazire Fabrice Souloy France 1:11.3 2007 Opal Viking Jorma Kontio Nils Enqvist Sweden 1:10.8 2006 Hot Shot Knick Thomas Uhrberg Kari Lähdekorpi Sweden 1:11.5 2005 Kart de Baudrairie Jean-Michel Bazire Franck Leblanc France 1:12.2 2004 Rotation Stig H. Johansson Stig H. Johansson United States 1:12.5 2003 Kiwi Joseph Verbeeck Fabrice Souloy France 1:12.0 2002 H.P. Paque Trond Smedshammer Trond Smedshammer United States 1:11.7 2001 B.W.T. Magic Ahti Antti-Roiko Matti Salmi Finland 1:11.2 2000 Giesolo de Lou Jean-Etienne Dubois Jean-Etienne Dubois France 1:11.2 1999 Giesolo de Lou Pierre Vercruysse Jean-Etienne Dubois France 1:11.6 1998 Dryade des Bois Joseph Verbeeck Jean-Baptiste Bossuet France 1:12.5 1997 Zoogin Åke Svanstedt Åke Svanstedt Sweden 1:12.1 1996 Isla J. Brave Aki Antti-Roiko Petri Klemola Finland 1:12.5 1995 SJ's Photo David Wade David Wade United States 1:13.3 1994 Copiad Erik Berglöf Erik Berglöf Sweden 1:12.5 1993 Born Quick Tommy Hanné Tommy Hanné Finland 1:12.1 1992 Otto-Mani Antti Teivainen Esa Aronen Finland 1:13.7 1991 Atas Fighter L. Torbjörn Jansson Torbjörn Jansson Sweden 1:13.5 1990 Florida Jewel William Fahy John Holloway United States 1:13.3 1989 Napoletano Stig H. Johansson Stig Engberg United States 1:12.9 1988 Napoletano Stig H. Johansson Stig Engberg United States 1:14.1 1987 Grades Singing Olle Goop Olle Goop United States 1:14.1 1986 Davidia Hanover Jorma Kontio Per Eriksson United States 1:14.7 1985 Keystone Patton Jorma Kontio Antti Savolainen United States 1:14.1 1984 Shane T. Hanover Per Henriksen Per Henriksen United States 1:14.9 1983 Speedy Magnus Olle Goop Olle Goop Sweden 1:13.2 1982 Dartster F. Olle Hedin Olle Hedin Sweden 1:13.9 1981 Ideal du Gazeau Eugene Lefevre Eugene Lefevre France 1:14.3 1980 Ejakval Jean-Claude David Jean-Claude David France 1:15.6 by David Sanders, for Harnesslink.com

Closing day of the famed Paris-Vincennes winter meet showcased excellent racing before an enthusiastic crowd this sunny spring afternoon. Aladin d'Ecajuel benefitted from a 25 meter advantage to capture the 240,000e Gr. I Prix de Selection over 2175 meters, the Quinte+ race of the day with a jackpot of 5.05 million euros. The four year-old son of recently retired Quaker Jet scored for Eric Raffin and trainer Sebastian Guarato to earn his eighth career win for increased earning of over €442,000. Highly regarded Uhlan du Val was a fast closing second for Cedric Megissier timed in a quick 1.10.5kr over the 2200 meters that he traveled. March 1, 2014 Paris Vincennes, Prix de Selection, Gr. I 240,000e, 2200 meters distance handicap, 14 starters,1.11.3kr 1st Aladin d'Ecajeul (4m Quaker Jet-Nancy d'Ecajeul-Halimede), Eric Raffin for Sebastian Guarato and owner Philippe Dewulf, his eighth win for career earnings of 442,940e, traveled 2175 meters in 1.11.3kr 2nd Uhlan du Val (6m Islero de Bellouet-Indiana Beautiful), Cedric Megissier trainer/driver, distance 2200 meters timed in 1.10.5kr, 3/1 3rd Aldo des Champs (4m Prince d'Espace-Noumea des Champs), Mathieu Abrivard trainer/driver, 2175 meters in 1.11.4kr, 11/1 4th Village Mystic (5m Love You-Netchka d'Orgeres), Louis Baudron trainer/driver, 2200 meters, 1.11.kr, 13/1 5th Univers de Pan (6m Kenya de Pont-Gypsilore), Philippe Daugeard driver/trainer, 2200 meters, 1.11.1kr, 3.5/1 The Gr. II 160,000e Prix de l'Union Europeenne, a UET Masters Series contest for Europeans over 3000 meters, resulted in a comfortable score for Sweden's Sanity with Franck Ouvrie aboard. The eight year-old gelded son of Love You from the Mack Lobell mare Flash Light is trained by Malin Lofgren for Stall Sanity. He recorded his 29th career victory for earnings of 987,895e. The 1.3/1 favorite defeated On Track Piraten (also Sweden) handled by Pierre Vercruysse and veteran Roi du Lupin with Frank Nivard up for J-P Marmion. Roxana de Barbray and Finland's Maxwell Mayday were next home. March 1, 2014 Paris Vincennes, Prix L'Union Europeenne, 160,000e, Gr. II European UET Masters Series, 3000 meters, 10 starters 1.14.5kr 1st Sanity (8g Love You-Flash Light-Mack Lobell), Franck Ouvrie for Stall Sanity and Malin Lofgren trainer, 1.3/1, his 29th career win  (Sweden) 2nd On Track Piraten (9g Kool du Caux-Monrovia), Pierre Vercruysse for H-R. Stromberg, 4/1 (Sweden) 3rd Roi du Lupin (9g Fleuron Perrine-Helia de Saint Pol), Franck Nivard for J-P Marmion, 2.3/1 4th Roxana de Barbray (9f Speed Clayettois-Iriane des Enclos), David Thomain for R. Donati, 56/1 5th Maxwell Mayday (9g SJ's Photo-Counting Crowns), Bjorn Goop for trainer J. Niskanen, 47/1 (Finland) by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com  

Four out of seven first pick, six out of seven striking a small dividend in the V75 and also one out of two – with a good pointer to the other, at Vincennes, was a better day for WWTE last week. Chapeau 3.72, Blended Bellouet 7.58, Amaru Boko 3.14, Finish Future 5.79 gave us a small profit ($6.28) on our Swedish picks, while you would have lost $1.20 on the $4 spent in France, since Vision Intense was a raging favourite. There was little joy in a $4.65 return for the V75 investment, so I have decided to go a little wider with my picks in future, in an attempt to snare a longer odds leg.   This weekend is the last of the Winter Meeting and March is a traditionally slow month in Europe, with the Scandinavian circuit set to kick off in April. Good luck with this week’s picks. V75-1 Silver division 2140m: Nougat As (5) is a former group II winner who also won his last V75 silver division heat. With Johnny Takter in the bike, a good place early to go for an anchor.  Selection 5 V75-2 Klass II 2140m: This looks between two products of the giant Boko breeding empire and an up and comer with three wins in a row. So Dennis Boko (1), Dante Boko (5) and Arn Hammering (3), are the ones for this leg. Selection 5-1-3 V75-3 Gold division 2140m: I know this is the gold division, but at this time of the year the real stars are either in France or preparing for spring racing after a winter break. Ludde Kolgjini’s royally bred Raja Mirchi (7) was one of those that was in Vincennes and going for a place in the Prix d’Amerique before going amiss. He is back here and a class above these. Should be anchor number two. Selection 7 V75-4 Larlingslopp 2140m: Britt Palema (2) has had two near misses lately and is perfectly drawn to go one better, while the horse who will vie for the lead from the gate, Rajah Press (1) is my choice as an alternate. Selection 7 (1) V75-5 Diamantestoet 2640m: The mares race is a tough one with Broadways Fines (4), Borga Effekt (6) and Global Navigator (13) and Yoga Brick (11) logical choices. For an outsider, Johnny Takter is on Florette Sund (3), who has a nice draw and has been consistent without a lot of luck and is perhaps due a change of fortune.  Selections 4-6-13-11-3 V75-6 Klass I 2640m: Super Photogenic (7) was second last start and is my first pick ahead of the in form Frozen (2) as an alternate. Selection 7 (2) V75-7 Bronze Division 2140m: Viking America (5), Checco Boko (4) and Riff Kronos (11) are the logical choices here. Again I am going for a Johnny Takter drive, from a good draw as my outsider in Zanimede (3) Selection 5-4-11-3 240,000e Prix de Selection (G1) 4-6 2750m: This race has been dominated by 4YOs for the past 30 years, but a recent change in handicapping has brought the older horses right back in the mix here. Univers de Pan (16) and Uhlan du Val (15) have both been plying their trade in exalted company and will be primed to take advantage here. Univers de Pan  was super in the Prix de France when second to Noras Bean and is my pick here. Selection 16 160,000e Prix de l'Union Europeenne (G2) Euro 5-10 3000m: The Swedes have been  on fire this Winter Meeting and there is no reason to think it will change here, with Malin Lofgren’s pride and joy Sanity (9), who is by French supersire Love You, looking up to winning this. One for the longer odds is Franck Leblanc’s Son Alezan (5), who is from a stable which is right on top of its game.  Selection 9 120,000e Prix Louis Le Bourg (G2) 4 2850m: This final monte of the Winter Meeting is missing most of the top horses under saddle from this crop. In their absence I’m going for an up and comer with an in form jockey aboard, in Airport (5) and his brilliant hoop Eric Raffin. Selection 5 TOTAL COMBINATIONS 60 – Cost $5, +1 alternate $10, + 2 alternate $20 Also here are my win wagers from Kalmar and Vincennes. Kalmar SINGLE WAGERS $2 Race 5 Nougat As (5) Race 6 Dante Boko (5) Race 7 Raja Mirchi (7) Race 8 Britt Palema (2) Race 9 Florette Sund (3) Race 10 Super Photogenic (7) Race 11  Viking America (5) Vincennes R4 Univers de Pan (16) R7 Sanity (9) R8 Airport (5)

Swedish invader Sanity (8g Love You-Flash Light-Mack Lobell) overcame a 25 meter penalty to win today's Gr. III 120,000 euro purse European Prix de Brest for upper level performers at Paris-Vincennes. Handled by Franck Ouvrie for trainer Malin Lofgren and owner Stall Sanity, the pair rallied late for a close victory over Tornade du Digeon and long shot Sierra Leone. Sanity won for the 28th time now for earnings of 915,895 euro. This handicap race was the Quinte+ event of the day, with a 2.8 million euro jackpot, and it produced a competitive driving finish to the line. January 18, 2014 Paris Vincennes - Prix de Brest, Gr. III European, 120,000 euro purse, 2850 meters distance handicap, 17 starters 1.13.2kr Fractions: 1.14.9kr at 1500; 1.13.5kr at 1000; 1.13.5kr at 500; 1.13.2kr finish 1st Sanity (8g Love You-Flash Light-Mack Lobell), Franck Ouvrie up, owner Stall Sanity, trainer Malin Lofgren, 4.6/1 odds, his 28th career win for 915,895 euro 2nd Tornade du Digeon (7f Jag de Bellouet-Herlane du Terme-Kimberland), J-M Bazire up at 5/1 3rd Sierra Leone (8f John Arifant-Une d'Havetot-Hakitan), Jean-Claude Hallais up at 33/1 4th Sissi du Mirel (8f Grassano-Haltise du Morin-Off Gy), Philippe Daugeard aboard at 3.7/1 5th Roxane de Baumee (9f Jain de Beval-Lisa de Baumee-Capitole), Pierre Levesque up at 46/1 by Thomas H. Hicks for Harnesslink.com   

Today (Thursday)  the prestigious Winter Meet began at Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes and runs through March 3, 2014. A host to France and international trotting events highlight the program including the Four B’s that produce qualification for the Prix d’Amerique, the monte classic Prix de Cornulier plus the Criterium Continental and Prix Tenor de Baune. The dates of major races are shown below: Nov. 16 – Prix de Bretagne Dec. 1- Grand National du Trot (GNT) Final Dec. 7 – Prix de Bourbonnais Dec. 8 – Criterium 3 Ans Dec. 22 – Criterium Continental Jan. 1 – Prix de Bourgogne Jan. 5 – Prix du Calvados Jan. 12 – Prix Tenor de Baune Jan. 15 –Prix de Belgique Jan. 19 – Prix de Cornulier Jan. 16 – Prix d’Amerique Feb. 2 – Prix de L’lle dr France and Prix de la Marne Feb. 9 – Prix de France and Prix des Centauran Feb. 16 – Criterium des Jeunes Feb. 23 – Prix de Paris Mar 3 – Prix de L’Union European and Prix de Selection Today’s racing action was a fitting start to the Winter Meet, as it showcased the Gr. II monte Prix Reynolds over 2175 meters for a 120,000 euro purse. The great international sulky star mare Roxane Griff (8f Tenor de Baune-Julia Mesloise) made a sweeping move around the final bend and scored easily,  drawing clear to win in 1.11.3kr albeit she drifted wide toward the stands in the late stages. Eric Raffin rode the winner, defeating Quarry Bay (9f Cygnus d’Odyssee-Barcaroile) and Camille Levesque. Sakura Jiel (7f Buvetier d’Aunou-Milady Jiel) was third with Guillaume Martin aboard. The co-feature was the Gr. III Prix des Cevennes (European) for 110,000 euro over the 2700 meter grande piste.  Contenders Soleil du Fosse and the Robert Bergh handles Kadett CD made disqualifying miscues opening the way for a win by the Christian Bigeon trained and driven Tiego d’Etang (6m Chaillo-Harolene-Vroum d’Or) in 1.13.7kr. He defeated the SWE invader Sanity(7g Love You-Flash Light-Mack Lobell), handled by Franck Ouvrie for Stall Sanity and trainer Malin Lofgren, and the classy FR mare Santa Rosa France (7f Kaisy Dream-Heloise France-Blue Dream) with Wm. Bigeon up. The other important monte event on the card was the Prix de Bellerive over 2700 meters and for a purse of 72,000 euro. Air de Marne (3g Corot-Hydre de Marne) scored narrowly for Alexandre Abrivard in 1.17.1kr over Aquarelle de Fael for Franck Nivard with Al Capone Jet taking third for Damien Bonne. Monte action plays a significant role during the Winter Meet, culminating in the  700,000 euro Prix de Cornulier one week before the Prix d’Amerique. by Thomas H. Hicks for Harnesslink.com  

French T-generation superstar Timoko has the chance to surpass the 2 million euros in earnings this weekend in the Grand Prix du Sud Ouest in Beaumont de Lomange, France on Sunday. Richard Westerink’s star is currently on E1,957,230 and is an odds on favourite  to win the 200,000 euro event over 2400m, which also carries points for the UET Masters Series. There is no Ready Cash in this field, Timoko is unbeaten in France when he has raced away from Vincennes, where he is facing the cream of French racing. And the last time that Timoko was beaten before that was in the Elitloppet final, where he went down to Nahar and a fast finishing Arch Madness. Timoko’s biggest challenge is likely to be in form former Swedish gold division stalwart Sanity, who raced in the 2012 Elitloppet heats. Sanity, like Nahar, is a Franco-American by French champion sire Love You, and will be looking to make it three wins in a row in the republic since moving in to the French stables of ex-pat Malin Lofgren. Sanity was unplaced, not surprisingly against the stellar field in the Masters Series final in Vincennes but has since reeled of victories in Le Croise-Laroche in the Grand Prix Federation Regionale du Nord and again last start in Meslay-du-Maine in the Grand Prix Anjou-Maine He was paying E3.50 on early French betting today. Patrick Martin’s 8YO gelding Ru de l’Arirou is the only other horse paying less than $10 on the French tote, with early odds showing 7/1  after a win and four second placings in his last five starts. But he has only just graduated to Group racing at the age of 8 and this looks beyond him. Smart mare Une Fille’d’Amour and veteran Paladin Bleu are the next best chances,  GRAND PRIX DU SUD OUEST Beaumont de Lomagne 2013-10-13 € 200 000 2400m 1 Ru de L'Airou (8g Cygnus d'Odyssee - Cour d'Intheville) Dr: Michel Charlot Tr: Patrick Martin 2 Supervisor (7h Podosis - In Camera) Dr: Franck Jamard Tr: Joel Despres  3 Paladin Bleu (10h Jag de Bellouet - Una Picolina) Dr: Frederic Clozier Tr: Loic Thieulent 4 Prince Charmant (10h Ulster du Cadran – Jalsovia) Dr: Jean Philippe Tr: Treich Jacques Henri Treich 5 Timoko (6h Imoko - Kiss Me Coulonces) Dr: Jos Verbeeck Tr: Richard Westerink 6 Risque Tout (8g Giant Cat - Little Pearl) Dr: Jean Philippe Ducher Tr: Gerard Paille 7 Pepa (10 Achille – Asicia) Dr: Denis Brossard Tr: Denis Brossard 8 Sanity (7g Love You - Flash Light) Dr: Franck Ouvrie Tr: Malin Lofgren 9 Renato Alstare (8g Jade Bocain - Elise Geneste) Dr: Manuel Criado Tr: Manuel Criado 10 Tina du Citrus (6m Niky - Onna Lisa) Dr: Eric Audebert Tr: Jean Michel Asin 11 Aisle Stand (6m Scarlet Knight – Twisterella) Dr: Jean Francois Senet Tr: Ronny Kuiper 12 Une Fille d'Amour (5m Infant du Bossis - Never So Great) Dr: Christophe Martens Tr: Cyril Raimbaud   Dave Sanders

Sanity (7g Love You-Flash Light-Mack Lobell) with Franck Ouvrie up for Stall Sanity (Sweden) easily defeated Ready Cash (8m Indy de Vive-Kidea) with trainer Thierry Duvaldestin aboard in 1.14.1kr in today's 100,000 euro International Gr. III Grand Prix de la Federation Regionale du Nord at Hippodrome LeCroise-Laroche. Raced over 2700 meters autostart, Sanity jetted ahead of the field and opened several lengths on runner-up Ready Cash to score at 17/1 odds. Now a career winner of over 761,000 euro, Sanity has been a consistent top class performer in Europe for trainer Malin Lofgren and this was his second start in France this month. Maxwell Mayday (by SJs Photo) finished third ahead of Roxanne Griff and Napolean Bar in the twelve horse field. Thomas H. Hicks  

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