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There was great quality trotting action over the past weekend in addition to the Derby's in Germany and Hungary. Sunday at Amal the featured "The Right Way" for 100,000SEK first prize was taken by Lindus Key (9m Indus-Key To Me-Speedy Tomali) in 1.12.9kr over 1680 meters autostart. Magnus Jakobsson did the teaming. Saturday action was focused on Rattvik where the featured Sommartravels Finale was contested over 2140 meters for 400,000SEK first money. This Gr. II UET Masters Series event went to the Johan Untersteiner handled Zinedine Bob (7g Dahir de Prelong-Frost Energy Bob-Meadow Road) in 1.13.6kr. Other high-priced races at Rattvik included the following: Ego Boys Minne for 150,000SEK first money over 1640 meters autostart went to the classy Friction (6m Scarlet Knight-Hermit Lady-Express Ride) for Orjan Kihlstom and trainer Stefan Melander. The winner of 17 races in 60 starts for earning of nearly 4.2 million SEK covered the course in a quick 1.10.7kr; Democrat (6gf Pearsall Hanover-Sugar Dream-Sugarcane Hanover) won over 1640 meters autostart in 1.11.3kr to earn 125,000SEK. Ulf Ohlsson drove the winner for trainer Conrad Lugauer; The Bronze Div. for 110,000SEK first money went to Overtaker By Sib (5g Civil Action-Nilema Frost-Balanced Image) in 1.13kr over 2140 meters. The 11 time winner in 34 starts was piloted by Johan Untersteiner for trainer Roger Walman; The Witasp/Fricks Kat II for 100,000SEK to the winner over 1640 meters went to Headhunter (5g Gentle Star-Famous Christine-Ororek). He was handled by Magnus Jakobsson to the 1.12.4kr win, his fourth from eight starts in 2013. The August 3rd feature at Halmstad, for 25,000SEK to the winner, was captured by high-class veteran Strong Boy DE (10g Echo-Deary Liesbois-Liam Almahurst) and Joakim Lovgren. The classy international campaigner scored in 1.12.4kr over 1640 meters, his 36th win in 108 trips to the post. In France the featured action was at various venues. On August 5th at Meslay de Maine, a 35,000 euro contest over 2875 meters resulted in a victory by Renardo Bello (8m Kiwi-Enfilade) driven by Damien Bonne. The winner, a half-brother to double Prix d'Amerique winner Offshore Dream, is owned and trained by Christian Bigeon. He scored for the 10th time in 45 outings in 1.14.9kr. At Cagnes-sur-mer on August 5th the Prix de Croisette, a Gr III event for 37,000 euro over 2925 meters, went to Armensito (3m Love You-Carmensito) with veteran Jean-Pierre Dubois driving. He owns the winner and Jean Baudron does the training. On the same card, the featured Prix Ville de Cannes (European, 60,000 euro, 2925 meters) resulted in a win for Quentin Rose (9g Carpe Diem-Gigi Rose) with Rik Dupuydt up. He scored in 1.13.4kr to record his 20th career win in 96 starts for earnings in excess of 495,000 euro. Enghien hosted fine racing on August 3rd. The European Prix Porte Pouchet went to highly respected Italian invader Robert Bi (3m Toss Out-Upfront JM-Self Possessed) in 1.15.2kr for Dominik Locqueneux and trainer P.J. Hagoort. He earned the winners share of the 65,000 euro purse in this 2875 meter contest in an easy score. Another Italian performer, Rombo di Connone (3m Varenne-Cannoniere-Diamond Way) was second for Vincenzo P. Dell'Annunziata Jr. and Africaine (3f Oiseau de Feux-Italienne-Coktail Jet) ended third for J-Etienne Dubois in this three year-old event. The monte feature, the Prix Forges les Eaux for 75,000 euro over 2875 meters, went to Valdice de Mars (4f Lynx de Bellouet-Tiphanie) in 1.15.3kr for Yohan Lebourgeois. She rallied in the long Enghien stretch for an easy win. Univers de Pan (5m Kenya de Pont-Gypsilore) earned a victory in the Prix de la Haye, an International contest over 2875 meters for a purse of 120,000 euro. Philippe Daugeard was aboard the 1.15.5kr winner who scored for the 14th time in 40 outings for life earnings of over 640,000 euro. Roxana de Barbray was second for Dominik Locqueneux with the Franck Ouvrie driven Unabella Perrine landing the third spot. On August 2nd at Cabourg the Swedish invader Ouch (6g Viking Kronos-Hot Enough) took the 38,000 euro purse, 2050 meter Prix Conseil General in 1.12.5kr. Christophe Martens did the steering. Tomorrow is the eighth leg of the prestigious Grand National du Trot at Saint Malo. Thierry Duvaldestin's Swedishman is the series point leader to date. by Thomas H. Hicks  

Growing up in a big city there were few things to be envious of.  We had it all.  Well, as harness fans we had two of the sport’s most iconic tracks in Yonkers and Roosevelt Raceways, but when it came to the sport’s signature event, The Hambletonian, we were miles from where it was happening. In the fall of 1976 The Meadowlands ushered in a new era for the sport. For those of us “half-milers” the one-mile strip had the allure of all of those speedy tracks in the Midwest that annually held State Fairs accompanied by the greatest the sport had to offer. The Grand Circuit’s mile tracks gave the sport’s stars the opportunity to race in heats and generally race faster than they would anywhere else. It just seemed natural that industry leaders would find a way to blend our rich tradition with our obvious future. In 1981 the Hambletonian arrived at the Meadowlands under less than ideal weather conditions. It arrived with many of the same faces that graced the Grand Circuit. It also came with an advanced purse structure more befitting the character the sport had attained in the New York City region.  It would be simple to start the history lesson with Shiaway St. Pat’s victory. It’s nice that Ray Remmen, the winning driver remains one of the most respected horsemen at the Meadowlands to this day.  Yet my story begins with a man who never won a Hambletonian. However, Carl Allen was hardly a loser that afternoon. He guided longshot Olaf to victory in one heat of the Hambletonian and also guided Pams Key to victory in a heat of the Hambletonian Oaks.  Allen’s saga in the Hambletonian is similar to most trotting horsemen. He wanted to win the race more than any other. In 1995 most people thought his time had finally arrived. The homebred C R Kay Suzie was the best filly of her generation and an odds-on favorite to beat the boys in the Hambletonian after capturing the Yonkers Trot. Sure there was a genuine family story line with Carl’s son Rod driving the filly. There was also some dissent because C R Kay Suzie would race with trotting hopples. Purists far and wide (and most Europeans) believed that no true trotter should wear hopples and that they should be prohibited from use in the sport’s most elite race. Maybe like all great inventions, 1995 was too soon for the gear Carl Allen had modified and maximized to be fully accepted. That’s the only plausible reason I can imagine as to why C R Kay Suzie made a break that day as the 1-10 favorite in her Hambletonian elimination. Over the 32 years at the Meadowlands the race has evolved when necessary to more accurately resemble challenges of the day. What has never changed is the openness and availability of the race to those from North America and overseas. The universal appeal of the Hambletonian is something that was nurtured and grew at the Meadowlands. It’s hard to imagine another race having the same allure that would draw a Ulf Thoresen (Nuclear Kosmos 1986) or a Stefan Melander (Scarlet Knight 2001) to come to these shores and succeed.  One would have to think that location, location, location is a major reason why Canadians based in Ontario made the pilgrimage to East Rutherford and enjoyed the ultimate prize in 2000 (Yankee Paco), 2003 (Amigo Hall) and again in 2006 with Glidemaster. It is this type of diversity that has set the Hambletonian apart in its stay in New Jersey. In DuQuoin the greats of the sport were prominent with the Dancers and Haughtons winning with regularity. The canvas has been spread much wider since the race arrived in the Metropolitan New York area. While the race isn’t going anywhere for some time, the 2013 edition marks the last time the horses will cross the wire in front of the current grandstand. With building fast reaching its completion the 2014 Hambletonian’s finish wire will be on the current backstretch. Much like the Hambletonian, however, the shift in grandstand will do little to shift the drama and excitement the race creates for the sport each and every year. It’s hard not to look back and recall some of the greatest moments in the sport’s long history taking place in the Hambletonian or on Hambletonian Day. It’s a race that has been filled with epic drama. In 1983 for example Hall of Famer Stanley Dancer’s stable would suffer a crippling blow in July when likely Hambo favorite Dancers Crown would succumb to severe intestinal issues. Dancer enlisted his brilliant filly Duenna to fill the void and her victory was bittersweet to all. The 1983 Hambletonian was the first to offer a $1 million purse putting it on similar footing with many of the Meadowlands other signature events. It was hard to argue with the Meadowlands brass when they called upon the Hambletonian Society to shift eliminations to a week before the final. That move took place in 1997 and it was in response to the creation of a week-long Hambletonian Festival, adding Breeders Crown races, maximizing betting and attracting international simulcasting. Still it was sad at the time to see an end to what appeared to be a time-honored tradition of heat racing. One of the most exciting periods for the race in New Jersey came in the mid-90’s with the emergence of Valley Victory as a unique and powerful presence in the stallion ranks. Valley Victorys hit the ground trotting and changed the landscape dramatically with Victory Dream (1994), the filly Continentalvictory (1996) and Muscles Yankee (1997). But 1999 may stand out as one of, if not the greatest, crop of trotters the sport has seen. At least that’s the way it appeared to be shaking out leading up to the Hambletonian that year. Self Possessed’s (by Victory Dream) 1:51 3/5 record-setting performance on that afternoon still stands out not just for the final time but for the quality of the horses that the colt left in the dust that afternoon. Vivid Photo and Roger Hammer winning the 2005 edition was a moment in time few will forget. For me Roger Hammer seemed the least likely candidate to emerge from the fairs of Pennsylvania onto the big stage. What made this race special is the obvious miscalculation of the experts. Hammer had been known for most of his career as a driver who liked the front end. When he employed the opposite strategy in the first $1.5 million Hambletonian (of his or any other driver’s career) it fulfilled the “No Guts, No Glory” prophecy. It certainly seemed fitting that horses bred in New Jersey would be good enough to take on the world. Muscles Yankee had a streak of his own with his sons Deweycheatumnhowe (2008), Muscle Hill (2009) and Muscle Massive (2010) distinguishing themselves for varied reasons. Deweycheatumnhowe became the first colt to win the race wearing the trotting hopples Carl Allen had mastered. Muscle Hill set the world record of 1:50 1/5 in a dynamic performance that winning trainer Greg Peck still hasn’t stopped talking about. And Muscle Massive became the most expensive yearling ($425,000) to win the race. The race returns to eliminations and final on one afternoon, for two trips around the course this Saturday afternoon. Though the Hambletonian has moved venues in the past, the next chapter in the race’s rich history remains on sound footing. In an era were few things remain the same for long, it’s refreshing that in this case tradition has triumphed with New Meadowlands home sweet home for the Hambletonian. by Jay Bergman for the Hambletonian Society  

Quid Pro Quo, a 4-year-old trotter sired by Yankee Glide, won the Sprintermastaren at Halmstad -- a Swedish stakes race also called the Swedish Hambletonian as it is raced over the mile distance with eliminations and a final; however in Sweden the race is for harness racing 4-year-old trotters.

Harness racing driver Jean-Pierre Dubois scored a double yesterday at Marseille-Borely, continuing his remarkable driving return in France.

Mr. Picolit (6m Scarlet Knight-Good Enough-Mr. Vic), trained and driven by Ake Svanstedt, scored a come from behind win in the Gr. I UET Master Series Broline Copenhagen Cup today at Charlottenlund Racecourse, Copenhagen Denmark.

Elitloppet officials today completed the 16 horse 2013 lineup with the addition of Amaru Boko (Timo Nurmos), Friction (Stefan Melander) and Nahar (Robert Bergh) to the field for May 26, now shown below:

Three more entrants were announced for the May 26 Elitloppet 2013 (from Sweden Raja Mirchi, Commander Crowe and Panne de Moteur).

Aby hosted seven divisions of the Euro Classic for harness racing four year-olds today Friday the 3rd of May at Aby, three divisions for fillies and four for males.

Today's top European trots, both mile heats (autostart), produced victories by well-respected six year-old harness racing campaigners.

Beckman (6g Turbo Sund-Nina Palema-Alf Palema) with harness racing trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt up, held off a determined Raja Mirchi (6h Viking Kronos-Dame Lavec-Quito de Talonay) to win V-75 Gold Olympiatravet Last Chance event at Farjestad and with it secured the last entry to the April 20 Olympic Trot at Aby.

Saturday at Farjestad (SWE) is the 'last chance' for a talented harness racing group to earn a start in the prestigious Olympic Trot on April 20 at Aby.

Ulk Medoc (m5 Karkai-Organza Haut Gilet-Fast du Gilet) won today's GNT leg #3 (purse 90,000 euro over 2,650 meters) at Saint Galmier for harness racing owner and trainer Lionel Cesar and driver Franck Carbineau.

GH Nemo (7h Scarlet Knight-Nancy As-Mr. Vic) with harness racing driver Ake Svanstedt driving, held off a furious rally from Maharajah (8h Viking Kronos-Giant Chill) and Orjan Kihlstrom to win this important Olympia Trot trial.

Owen CR with harness racing driver Pietro Gubellini in the sulky easily won the featured Prix Giorgio Jegher today at Trieste.

Three out of four Breeders Crown races, which was carried out Saturday afternoon (Nov. 3) at the Sundbyholm harness racing track outside Stockholm, were won by rank outsiders.

Week number 33 of 2012 will go down in Swedish harness racing history as the week of Stefan Melander. The trainer, driver and world renowned photographer dominated three of the biggest stakes races of the season during the week.

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