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March 22, 2017 - Harness racing trainer Stefan Melander’s Nuncio (6m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane), off at 1.09/1 odds,  recorded his second straight 2017 victory tonight at Solvalla for teamster Orjan Kihlstrom clocked in 1.12.2kr. The race was the Kentucky Fibbers with 80,000SEK to the winner over the 1640 meter autostart course. Nuncio led throughout during modest fractions (1.14kr at the first 500 meters; 1.13.7kr at the first 1000) and held off fast closing 9.67/1 Volstead (6m Cantab Hall-Madame Volo-Yankee Glide) by a short length, the latter reined by Erik Adielsson for trainer Melander. Arden Homestead Stable bred Volstead and Russell Williams (new USTA President) bred Nuncio, now with a career slate of 39-12-2 in 53 starts for 27,803,230SEK earned. Nuncio was a perfect 11 for 11 in 2016. 12.9/1 Coldtown (8g Cantab Hall-Brylin Starlet-Balanced Image) landed the third spot. Nuncio tonight took the next step toward the 2017 Elitloppet. Thomas H. Hicks

February 18, 2017 - Nuncio (6m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane) record an easy, and well-rated. front end harness racing victory tonight in the V75 Gold at Axevalla in Sweden. The Orjan Kihlstrom driven and Stefan Melander trained and owned (Stall TZ) champion was timed in 1.15.7kr (fractions: 1.17.3kr at first 500 meters; 1.18.3kr at the first 1000; 1.18.1kr at the 1500) over 2140 meters autostart to earn 150,000SEK first prize. Nuncio last raced September 18, 2016 at Bjerke. Russell C. Williams of Hanover, PA bred Nuncio, the 1.07/1 favorite that bested 30.79/1 Bruno di Quattro (9m Broadway Hall-Ussel-Speedy Soma) with Kenneth Haugstad up and 31.88/1 Art On Line (9g Rite On Line-Fleur-Backstreet Guy) for Johnny Takter. Winmecredit and Spring Erom were fourth and fifth. Nuncio’s career slate now stands at 38-12-2 in 52 starts for 27,723,230SEK earned. He is now 12 for 12 in 2016-17. This night Nuncio was eased to the front, faced a challenge deep in the last bend, and then drew off for a four length score. Nuncio (Ö.Kihlström/S.Melander) Thomas H. Hicks  

Nuncio was named Horse of the Year in Sweden Friday night (Feb. 10) at the Swedish Galla night in Stockholm. Unbeaten in 11 races last year, the North American bred son of  Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle, received 86 percent of the votes. Nuncio has not raced since Sept. 18, but is in training and Stefan Melander expects to bring the now 6-year old trotter back in action in late March. The first big target for Nuncio could be the Olympic Trot to be raced in Gothenburg late April. While Nuncio has been resting another top trotter, Bold Eagle is busy at the racetracks and on Sunday (Feb. 12) Bold Eagle, driven by regular driver Franck Nivard, will race in the Prix de France at Vincennes. The Prix de France is raced over 1-5/16 miles, which is the shortest distance races are carried out at Vincennes. The total purse is $425,000. Bold Eagle won this race last year when he beat Timoko, driven by Bjorn Goop, to second. Timoko will also race tomorrow. Bold Eagle will also take on North American breds Propulsion, driven by Ôrjan Kihlström and Wild Honey, driven by David Thomain. by Karsten Bønsdorf, USTA Senior Internet Correspondent

Nuncio returns to action next Wednesday at Solvalla, where the Stefan Melander trained and owned harness racing champion will be teamed with regular pilot Orjan Kihlstrom in the Gosta Nordins. A field of seven will race over 2140 meters autostart (field below). Divisionist will also take part in the Gunnar Nordins on the card. Nuncio may be pointed toward the Prix d’Amerique the last week in January. December 7, 2016 – Solvalla - R7 Gosta Nordins 2140 meters autostart Nuncio - Kihlstrom Knows Nothing - Ohlsson Attack Diablo - Eriksson Nato Dream - Haugstad Partout Simoni - Kern Charrva Forlan - Goop Claes Boko - Adielsson   R4 Gunnar Nordins 2140 meters autostart Floyd Fortuna - Adielsson Camelot Sisu - Goop Barthechocoate - Haapio Divisionist - Kontio Global Satisfaction - Ohlsson Cupido Sisdu - Kihlstrom   Thomas H. Hicks  

Friday night at Orebro Sweden was the 201 Najos Minne (100,000SEK to winner, 2100 meters autostart) and the winner was 4.41/1 Cruzado dela Noche (4m Muscle Massive-Alidade-Credit Winner) reined by Bjorn Goop and timed in 1.11.1kr, a record for the distance on a 1000 meter harness racing track. Stefan Melander trains the Stall Courant AB Stockholm owned and Hanover Shoe Farms bred winner, that has a 2016 slate of 5-1-2 in 14 starts for 2,137,690SEK. He has 10 wins in 36 career starts for 4,081,566SEK earned. Twister Bi (4m Varenne-Lorraine Bi-Lemon Dra) was second for Christoffer Eriksson, trainer Jerry Riordan and owner Pasuale Ciccarelli. This Biasuzzi bred trotter bested third finishing Divisionist (4m Andover Hall-Only Lonely-Yankee Paco-Too Good For You-Yankee Glide-Little Miss Queenie) with Jorma Kontio driving. Uncle Lasse (4m Donato Hanover-Solveig-Yankee Glide) was fourth for Orjan Kihlstrom and fifth went to Billy Flynn (4m Cantab Hall-Zeta Jones) with Erik Adielsson aboard. Nahar Takes Mohawk Preferred Saturday evening’s Mohawk (Ontario) featured trot was the weekly Preferred (purse C$34,000, one mile autostart) and veteran former Elitloppet winner (at age eight)  Nahar (11g, Love You-Mahonny Broline-Joie de Vie) was an easy five-length winner clocked in 1:53 for driver Doug McNair, trainer Robert Bergh and Stall Sedin. Racing with hopples has helped the class-master that easily dispatched Whiskey Tax ((9g Revenue-Bourbon Belle-Muscles Yankee) with Randy Waples up and third finishing Etruscan Hanover (6g Donato Hanover-Exotic Destination-Dream Vacation). Nahar, now a winner in excess of 12.SEK million and with 41 career victories, photos below: Thomas H. Hicks  

The 3/10 favorite Nuncio (5m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle) took todays Gr. I UET Masters Finale (purse €399,908, 2100 meters autostart, 12 starters) by two lengths clocked in 1.10.66kr. Orjan Kihlstrom teamed the Stefan Melander trained and owned harness racing champion. 9/1 Oasis Bi (8m Toss Out-Up Front JM) took second for Erik Adielsson, trainer Stefan Pettersson and Ecurie Frackstad Lantbruks AB. Third was 16/1 Mosaique Face (7m Classic Photo-Iona LB) with Adrian Kolgjini up for Tommy Nilsson Holding AB and trainer Lutfi Kolgjini. Spring Erom and Explosive De Vie were fourth and fifth. Nuncio (Ö.Kihlström/S.Melander) G1 UET Masters Final 18/09/2016 Finale U.E.T Trotting Masters NUNCIO On the Bjerke program was also the VG Norsk Derby (purse €226,922, 2600 meters autostart, 12 starters) with victory to 1.9/1 El Diablo BR (4m Muscle Hill-Fiery Chip) for trainer/driver Frode Hamre. The winner was clocked in 1.13.42kr and is owned by Brinvest Danmark APS. 5/1 Cash Okay (4m Ready Cash-Tresokay) was second for G.V. Gundersen with third earned by 5/1 Ultimate Photo (4m SJ’s Photo-Madam Lavec) and Bjorn Goop. Fourth was the Jeppe Juel driven and trained Akermann (4g Crazed-Ta Ta Hall). The Finn Tack Norsk Criterium (purse €175,325, 2100 meters autostart, 12 starters) produced a 1.12.71kr timed winner in 14.3/1 Shocking Superman (3m Orlando Vici-Bernadette’s Cat). Bjorn Goop is trainer/driver of this Tar Stable KB owned performer. 19.5/1 Mini Viking (3m Maharajah-Jeunesse Defee) was second for trainer/driver Frode Hamre and third was 15/1 Evil Enok ME (3m Magnetic Power-Topaz Dragon) for trainer/driver N.P. Braekken. Thomas H. Hicks

Harness racing action Wednesday at Solvalla included a victory by Standout (7m Ganymede-Ebony DK-Royal Troubador) in the 100,000SEK first money C Th Ericssons Memorial over 2640 meters autostart. Orjan Kihlstrom teamed the winner for Stefan Melander, trainer/owner. The winner has 17 career wins in 65 starts for 3,459,200SEK earned. Standout, off at 3.16/1, was clocked in 1.13.6kr to defeat Sir Ratzeputz and Poochai. The Solvallaserien VII for 100,000SEK to the winner, went to 1.23/1 Uncle Lasse clocked in 1.12kr. Orjan Kihlstrom teamed this Stefan Melander owner and trained four year-old son of Donato Hanover-Solveig-Muscles Yankee). Workout Wonder (4m Conway Hall-Dear Abs-Muscles Yankee) was second for Tommi Kylliainen with third to Flash Haleryd (4m Conway Hall-Looking Flashy-Pine Chip) for Erik Adielsson. Pythagoras Face and Divisionist were next to the line with French Laundry unplaced. The race distance was 2140 meters autostart. Two year-old battled in the opener for 40,000SEK to the winner of this 1640 meter voltstart event. The 1.15.9kr winner was Harmon Boko (2m Muscle Hill-Pursuit of Dream-Donerail) for Orjan Kihlstrom and trainer Mattias Djuse. Kiss Me Tooma (2f Dream Vacation) and Eurythmic Sisu (2m Quite Easy) were next. Three year-olds contested a 2140 meter volstart event for 40,000SEK to the winner. That winner was 1.8/1 Bourbon Rain (3m Conway Hall-Affinity-Victory Dream) clocked in 1.17.1kr for Orjan Kihlstrom and trainer Pasi Aikio. This winner is a half-brother to the successful Tumble Dust, a Criterium Continental winner by Crazed. Another 40,000SEK first prize event, over 2140 meters autostart, went to Per Lennartsson’s trained/driven Jager Oaks (7g Tony Oaks-Jessi Way-Buster Claypool) clocked in 1.14.4kr, his second straight victory. Trainer/driver Melander also won on the card with Lincoln Lawyer (5g Muscles Yankee-M Stewart-American Winner) timed in 1.14.5kr over 2640 meters autostart to capture 60,000SEK first money. Thomas H. Hicks    

Today’s Gr. I International Sundsvall Open at Bergsaker (total purse €188,475, 2140 meters autostart, 10 starters) went to harness racing 3/10 favorite Nuncio (5m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane) handled by Orjan Kihlstrom.  The winner is trained by Stefan Melander for his Stall TZ. Nuncio, bred by Russell Williams of Pennsylvania, is now 8-2-0 in 10 starts in 2016 and has a 34-14-2 slate in 50 career starts for 24,931,376SEK earned. Off on the lead from post one, Nuncio parked contesting Oasis Bi not allowing that one the front, and then fought off Call Me Keeper (that made a miscue with a quarter mile remaining) and a parked three wide Anna Mix. In the lane the winner gamely kept a comfortable lead to hold off 15/1 pocket placed On Track Piraten (8g Kool du Caux-Monrovia) with Joseph Verbeeck up  for trainer H.R. Stromberg, and outside rallying 78/1 DD’s Hitman (5m Donato Hanover-Deedee’s Destiny) with Jorma Kontio driving for Petri Puro. 15/1 Oasis Bi (8m Toss Out-Up Front JM) ended fourth with Bjorn Goop up for trainer Stefan Pettersson. Nuncio was clocked in 1.11.7kr, well off the race record of 1.10kr set in 2015 by Delicious U.S. Replay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Okat-ml0-g Thomas H. Hicks  

Top flight harness racing trotting occurs this weekend on Saturday at Bergsaker with the Sundsvall Open and Friday at Cagnes sur Mer in the Grand Prix du Department 06. The Sundsvall Open has a total purse of €188,475 in the Gr. I International test over 2140 meters autostart. Nuncio will be the favorite from post one with Orjan Kihlstrom up for Stefan Melander, owner/trainer. Main contenders will be Call Me Keeper, Oasis Bi, Anna Mix and On Track Piraten. Melander also starts US-bred Volstead. Former Elitloppet winner Nahar is also in this groupe, he apparently slated for a Toronto trip for the Maple Leaf Trot. BERGSAKER - SUNDSVALL OPEN TROT SUEDE Attelé - 188 475 € - 2140m - 10 partants  - Internationale - Autostart  - Corde à gauche SUNDSVALL OPEN TROT Course 1 European Trotting Masters Series 2016 Groupe I Course Internationale Départ à l'Autostart 188.475. - Attelé. - 2.140 mètres. 107.700, 43.080, 21.540, 10.770, 5.385. Pour 3 ans et plus, ayant gagné au moins 43.080. N° Nom Cas. Fer S A Driver Entraîneur Dist (mètres) Musique Gains Rapports probables e-SG Ref. Direct                           1 Nuncio (usa) A     M 5 o. kihlstrom s. melander 2140 1a1a2a1a2a 2 577 409 € - - 2 Volstead A     M 5 p. lennartsso s. melander 2140 5a1a1a1a0a 370 192 € - - 3 Call me keeper     M 6 j. unterstein daniel reden 2140 2a1aDa1a1a1a 391 090 € - - 4 D.d.'s hitman     M 5 j. kontio p. puro 2140 0a1a2a4aDa 130 209 € - - 5 Nahar     H 11 r. bergh r. bergh 2140 DaDa2aDa1a2a 1 349 763 € - - 6 Oasis bi     M 8 b. goop s. pettersson 2140 0a0a4a1a1a0a 1 302 033 € - - 7 Anna mix     F 6 e. adielsson mlle sofia ar 2140 1a1a6a5aDa3a 864 508 € - - 8 Shadow woodland     M 7 u. ohlsson reijo liljend 2140 1a4a1a4aDa 217 726 € - - 9 On track piraten     H 8 j. verbeeck h.r. stromber 2140 2a2a5a4a1a2a 1 219 550 € - - 10 Explosive de vie     H 5 k. oscarsson j. oscarsson 2140 2a1a2a1a3a 278 980 € - -   Ecurie A   -     Friday at Cagnes sur Mer will be the Gr. II Grand Prix du Department 06 for a purse of €180,000 with 12 starters in the 1609 meter autostart sprint. Un Mec d’Heripre will be the likely wagering choice from post six with J-M Bazire to drive the Fabrice Souloy trainee. Main attention will also go to Pascia’Lest, Dante Boko, Seatlle Bi and Aladin d’Ecajeul in this well matched field CAGNES/MER - GRAND PRIX DU DEPARTEMENT 06 Attelé - 180 000 € - 1609m - 12 partants  - Groupe II GRAND PRIX DU DEPARTEMENT 06 Course 6 European Trotting Masters Series 2016 Groupe II Course Internationale. N° Nom Cas. Fer S A Driver Entraîneur Dist (mètres) Musique Gains Rapports probables e-SG Ref. Direct                           1 Starter du rib     H 10 j.ch. feron j.ch. feron 1609 6a3aDa5a0a5a 513 440 € - - 2 Aladin d'ecajeul     M 6 g. gelormini s. guarato 1609 6a3a3a4a8a3a 998 640 € - - 3 Pascia' lest     M 7 p. gubellini f. souloy 1609 5a5a2a1a1a4a 1 357 611 € - - 4 Olmo holz     M 8 ch. martens v. martens 1609 4a2a5aDa5aDa 842 656 € - - 5 Soumoulou     H 10 anthony laigr a. laigron 1609 7a6a3a4a3a6a 654 710 € - - 6 Un mec d'heripre     M 8 j.m. bazire f. souloy 1609 1a1a0a1a1a3a 1 632 332 € - - 7 Zorro photo     M 10 r. andreghett mlle st. lepe 1609 3a6a6a6a6a1a 619 288 € - - 8 Princess grif     F 7 b. goop f. souloy 1609 9a6a7a8a0a9a 787 826 € - - 9 Truman dairpet     H 9 d. locqueneux n. ensch 1609 7a2a5a4a2a2a 510 960 € - - 10 Dante boko     H 6 p. vercruysse l. kolgjini 1609 1a4a0a5aDa1a 481 314 € - - 11 Seattle bi     F 5 m. stefani a. gocciadoro 1609 1a3aDa4a4a6a 115 899 € - - 12 Slow du beauvoisin     H 10 r. mourice r. mourice 1609 3a1a1a3a0a4a 478 070 € - -   Thomas H. Hicks  

Nuncio (5m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane) rallied off stablemate Volstead’s death seat cover to easily win the 2016 Solvalla Gr. I Jubileumspokalen for a total purse of €188,475. Harness racing driver Orjan Kihlstrom reined the winner owned and trained by Stefan Melander. He recorded his seventh 2016 victory in nine starts to go along with two seconds, raising his seasonal earnings to 5,798,650SEK and career earnings of 23,931,376SEK. The career slate is 33-14-2 in 49 starts. Off at 3/10 the winner bested 23/1 Explosive De Vie (5g Explosive Matter-Ava-Pine Chip) for Kevin Oscarsson with third to 9/1 Fire To The Rain (5g Yankee Glide-Adelaide Hall-Conway Hall) with Ulf Ohlsson up. Scellino Luis, another son  of Andover Hall, ended fourth. Time was 1.10.7kr off even fractions (1.09.5kr at the first 500 meters; 1.10.2kr at the 1000 and 1.10.3kr after 1500) in the 2140 meter autostart course. Nuncio was four wide in the first turn, settled on the outer and then was covered by Volstead that ended fifth. Earlier in the card The Queen L for aged mares (purse €21,702) went to 1.14.1kr (2640 meters autostart) timed Bostonz Credit (6f Credit Winner-Pleasecometoboston-Cumin) with Kihlstrom up for trainer Daniel Reden and Stall Zet. The Kelley Racing Stable US product won for second time in 2016 in six starts. Off at 9/2 the winner defeated 1.2/1 Jetset (7f Juliano Star-Superlet-Super Arnie) with trainer Peter Untersteiner up. Third was 30/1 Coco De Vie (5f Chocolatier-Bliss-Angus Hall) for Ulf Ohlsson and trainer Melander. The Solvalla program also included the Breeders Course for two year-olds raced over 1640 meters autostart. The easy gate to wire victory went to 1.1/1 favorite Current Affair (2f Love You-Global Future-Lindy’s Crown) with Bjorn Goop up for trainer Tomas Malmqvist. Kiss Me Tooma (2f Dream Vacation-Jument D’or-Super Arnie) was next for Jennifer Tillman. Timed was 1.15.9kr for the winner that earned 50,000SEK for her second win in as many starts. Thomas H. Hicks

Nuncio (5m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane) in rein to Orjan Kihlstrom for trainer/owner Stefan Melander won today’s €121,916 purse, 1640 meters autostart, Arjang 2016 Stora Sprinterlopp in Sweden, by half-length after stating from post eight and sitting the death seat after the first quarter mile.  Nuncio was the 7/10 favorite and scored in 1.09.7kr (mile rate 1:52.15). Pacesetter Tycoon Conway Hall (6m Conway Hall-Golden Sunday-Supergill) was a game second at 19/1 for Thomas Uhrberg and trainer Steen Juul. 29/1 Vasterbo Highflyer (8g Look de Star-Vasterbo Highclass-Pine Chip) rallied to be third for Ulf Ohlsson and trainer Daniel Reden with fourth to 3.9/1 On Track Piraten (8g Kool du Caux-Monrovia-Rite On Line) and teamster Johnny Takter. Ten horses contested this International event with Chelsea Boko and Harry Haythrow fifth and sixth to the line. Nuncio posted his sixth 2016 victory in eight starts, with two seconds, including the Elitlopp win. His career slate is 32-14-2 in 48 appearances, now for 22,931,376SEK earned. "He has everything put together really well. He is strong, a quick starter and has good closing speed.", said driver Örjan Kihlström. On the undercard Takethem (6m From Above-D’Cherie-New Quick) win the Silver Division for Thomas Uhrberg and Cab Hornline (5m San Pelligrino-Perle Mauritius-Hermes de Pericard) took the Bronze test for trainer/driver Per Lennartsson. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

The Gr. I International Sprintermaster Final (928,830SEK to winner ($109,000 US), 1609 meters autostart) at Halmstad, Sweden, went to 2.15/1 second favorite Uncle Lasse (4m Donato Hanover-Solveig-Yankee Glide) clocked in 1.09.3kr and piloted by Orjan Kihlstrom. Stefan Melander owns and trains the US import that was campaigned by Jimmy Takter. Uncle Lasse now has a 12-9-5 slate in 36 career starts, with earnings of 8,543,357SEK. Second in the Halmstad final was 8.3/1 Breidabliks Nubbe (4m Lindy Lane-Wildgirl Boshoeve-Starchip Entrprise) and driver Christoffer Eriksson for trainer Conrad Lugauer. This pair defeated Uncle Lasse in their elimination, timed in 1.10.6kr. The 2.6/1 Cruzado Dela Noche (4m Muscle Massive-Alldide-Credit Winner) took third in the final for Bjorn Goop and trainer Melander, French Laundry was unplaced for Johnny Takter as was 1.6/1 wagering choice Southwind Mozart. The eliminations (first) went to 6.9/1 Breidabliks Nubbe (4m Lindy Lane-Wildgirl Boshoeve-Starchip Entrprise) for the Eriksson/Lugauer team timed in 1.10.6kr. The 0.53/1 Uncle Lasse was second for Kihlstrom/Melander and 1.73/1 Telecommando OK (4m Love You-Flavia Kronos-Sj’s Photo) for Bjorn Goop/Wim Paal. The elims were raced over 1609 meters for 125,000SEK first money. The second elim went to 1.77/1 Cruzado Dela Noche (4m Muscle Mass-Alldide-Credit Winner) timed in 1.11kr for Goop/LMelander. 0.38/1 favorite Poet Broline (4m Quite Easy-Candelia-Armbro Goal) was second for trainer/driver Peter Untersteiner, ahead of 14.83/1 Nappa Scar (4m Scarlet Knight-Butterfly Player-Pearsall Hanover), the third place finisher for trainer/driver Per Lennartsson. Elim three was won by the quick 1.09.5kr clocked Southwind Mozart (4m Muscle Hill-Missymae Bluestone-Mack Lobell) off at 0.56/1 for trainer/driver Veljo Heisanen. 7.97/1 In Vain Sund (4m Revenue-Staro Yasmine-Supergill) took second for Erik Adielsson and trainer Daniel Reden for Stall Zet. Third was 15.76/1 Flash Haleryd (4m Conway Hall-Looking Flashy-Pine Chip) for trainer/driver Peter Untersteiner. On the undercard was the Travronden for 75,000SEK to the winner of the 2140 meter autostart event with ten starters and trainer/drivers. 9.33/1 The Way I Am (5g Allstar Hall-Nilema Way-Mack Lobell) scored in 1.13.3kr with Petri Salmela driving. The 8.6/1 Sylvester America (5m Varenne-Armbro Voice-Garland Lobell) was a close second driven by trainer Jerry Riordan for Riordan Stables HB. Third was 4.08/1 Unique Julia (6f Juliano Star-Staro Unique-Supergill) for trainer/driver Reijo Liljendahl. Saturday’s V75 Halmstad program was an excellent one led by the StoSprinern Final for four year-old mares. The impressive 1.11.1kr timed winner was Italy’s Treasure Kronos (4f Raja Mirchi-Glide About-Yankee Glide) with Christoffer Eriksson aboard for trainer Jerry Riordan and North American owners David Goodrow and Jeffrey Snyder. The winner earned 557,298SEK in this 1609 meter autostart contest and now has a 6-3-2 slate in 1 starts. She was off at 1.18/1 odds and won her second straight. Bacio (4f Muscle Hill-Lily Kronos-Varenne) was second for Ulf Ohlsson and trainer Stefan Melander, Third was Faye Bros (4f Explosive Matter-Vina Boko-Trade Balance) for driver Erik Adielsson and trainer Timo Nurmos. The card also included the V75 Gold over 2140 meters autostart for 150,000SEWK first prize. Veteran Harry Haythrow (10g Rite On Line-Speedy Tilda-Spotlite Lobell) scored at 17.2/1 timed in 1.12.2kr. Another aging star, Spring Erom (11m Gentle Star-Springflicken-Prince Mystic), took second for Orjan Kihlstom and third went to Solvato (7m Donato Hanover-Solveig-Yankee Glide) with Stefan Soderkvist the pilot. The V75 Silver for 125,000SEK first money went to well-bred US registered King City (5m Muscle Hill-Creamy Mimi-Conway Hall) at 10.6/1 odds. He started from post 12 and was timed in 1.10.9kr to defeat post one Trust Launcher (8g Gallant Baron-Josephine Launcher-Turbo Thrust) with Peter Untersteiner driving in this 12 horse field. Third was the Erik Adielsson teamed Emmett Brown (5m Muscle Hill-Traci Spur-SJ’s Photo). Divisionist was fifth in this group. The Bronze Division for 110,000SEK to the winner in the 2640 meter voltstart contest went to Bravo Navarone (5m From Above-Ocean Breeze-Turbo Thrust) for Erik Adielsson clocked in 1.14.3kr as the even-money favorite. The Halmstad card also showed other interesting winners. A Klass II event for 100,000SEK over 2140 meters autostart went to 1,3/1 Isor Haleryd (4g Ready Cash-Velvet As-Mr. Vic) for trainer/driver Peter Untersteiner. Tudor Kronos (4m Raja Mirchi-Malibu Princess-Malabar Man) won the 100,000SEK first prize Breeders Course timed in 1.14.2kr at 2.2/1 over 2640 meters distance handicap, overcoming a 20 meter penalty. The Summer Mares for 100,000SEK to the winner of the 1609 meters autostart sprint went to Playing Tua (8f Gigant Neo-Sandy Nalan-Lindy’s Crown) at 1.15/1 for trainer/driver Thomas Uhrberg. This top mare scored her third straight victory and now has 18 wins in 66 career starts. She was timed in 1.10.7kr. Three year-olds battled in the 75,000SEK first money Euro Classic Next Year with victory to 1.96/1 Ultra Bright (3f Zola Boko-Patina-Viking Kronos) timed in 1.12.5kr for trainer/driver Fredrik Persson. High Beam Hanover and Gwenda di Quattro were next across the line, both by Cantab Hall. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink

Watch final heat at https://youtu.be/nsVzLdYrA1o Nuncio (5m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane) prevailed gamely after a parked out journey for Orjan Kihlstrom and owner/trainer Stefan Melander to capture the Gr. I International 2016 Benders Elitloppet (3SEK million to the final winner (€323,100), 1609 meters autostart) narrowly holding off Resolve (5m Muscle Hill-Anikawiesahalee-Credit Winner) by half-length, that one driven and trained by Ake Svanstedt for owner Hans Enggren. Pacesetter Un Mec d’Heripre (8m Orlando Vici-I Love You Darling-Buvetier d’Aunou) was a gutsy third, a length back, for Jos Verbeeck and trainer Fabrice Souloy. Elim winner Timoko rallied from between horses to be fourth for Bjorn Goop but he never threatened the top three. Propulson ended fifth and Oasis Bi sixth. Royal Fighter left quickly from post six, reached the pocket, and could not close, ending seventh with Billie de Montfort at the end. Nuncio was the wagering favorite, off at 0.5/1 on the ATG system and 2.1/1 on Fintoto. Resolve was 1.96/1 on ATG and 4.56/1 on Fintoto. Fractions again were quick early and late (1.07.6kr at 500 meters, 1.09.6kr at the 1000) with the finish timed in 1.09.2kr (mile rate 1:51.34). All starters were timed in 1.09.9kr or better. Nuncio completes the fabulous day with a career slate of 31-13-2 in 46 starts, good for 21,597,726SEK earned. Pinkman wins for Takter/Gingras Pinkman (4g Explosive Matter-Margie Seelster-Angus Hall) with Yannick Gingras up for trainer Jimmy Takter reached the front before the first quarter, rated the pace albeit parking out Twister Bi (4m Varenne-Lorraine Bi-Lemon Dra), and put that one away at top stretch to win the Gr. II Tommy Hannes for four year-olds (500,000SELK to the winner, 1609 meters autostart, 10 starters).   Uncle Lasse (4m Donato Hanover-Solveig-Yankee Glide) rallied for Orjan Kihlstrom and trainer/owner Stefan Melander to fall short by a head. The race was timed in 1.09.9kr (1:52.47 mile rate). Divisionist (4m Andover Hall-Only Lonely-Yankee Paco) rallied to be third for Jorma Kontio and trainer Melander. Fractions were quick early and late with Pinkman getting some soft time mid-race (1.07.8kr at 500 meters, 1.10kr at the 1000 mark).   Pinkman was off as even-money favorite with Uncle Lasse at 2.3/1 and Divisionist at 14/1. Pinkman now has a career slate of 18-5-2 in 28 starts for earnings of 21,382,178SEK.   A race earlier the Gudrans Lopp (100,000SEK to winner, 2140 meters autostart) went to 1.13.4kr timed New Muscle As (4g Muscle Mass-New Circle As-Malabar Man) for Bjorn Goop and trainer Ulf Stenstromer. The roan colt Antonio Tabac (4m Crazed-Grace Tabac-Tap In) pulled pegs pocket late to be second beaten half-length with Erik Adielsson up for trainer Stig H. Johansson.   Timoko takes first elimination division   Timoko (9m Imoko-Kiss Me Coulonces-And Arifant)  took the first elim of the 2016 Benders Elitloppet gate to wire for Bjorn Goop and trainer Richard Westerink, his third straight victory and 30th lifetime in 85 starts for earnings of 37,756,090SEK.   Away from post four Timoko quickly took the front and held off parked out Volstead until top of stretch when Resolve (5m Muscle Hill-Anikawiesahalee-Credit Winner) rallied three wide from fifth for Ake Svanstedt with Propulsion (5m Muscle Hill-Danae-Andover Hall) following that one. Both closed stoutly with Resolve a half-length from the leader at the wire and Propulsion another half-length behind. Oasis Bi enjoyed a pocket position and did not threaten,   Fractions were sharp (1.07.8kr at the first 500 meters, 1.09.2kr at the 1000) and finished at 1.09.1kr for the 1609 meter one-mile test with 250,000SEK to the winner, Oasis Bi and Volstead rounded out the top five and Your Highness was scratched. The winner was off at 1.9/1 on Fintoto and 4/5 on the PMU network.   Early Solvalla action on this 2016 Benders Elitloppet day saw Wild Honey (4f Cantab Hall-U Wanna Lindy-SJ’s Photo) take the Rune Stolts for mares (250,000SEK to the winner, 1609 meters autostart) timed in 1.10.9kr for Orjan Kihlstrom and trainer Daniel Reden. The mare was parked without cover and eased to the line ahead of Tunika (4f Zola Boko-Verona de Ling-Super Arnie) and driver Bjorn Goop.   A race later the 2016 undefeated (five of five now) Makethemark (3m Maharajah-Global Naughty-Conway Hall) took the Hakan Wallner Memorial (300,000SEK to the winner) for driver Ulf Ohlsson clocked in 1.11.8kr. Parked without cover the dimunitive colt closed steadily to capture the win from Mindyourvalue WF (3m Hovding Lavec-Mind Your Manners-Dahir de Prelong) with Ake Svanstedt driving for trainer Robert Bergh. The winner now has 11 wins in 13 starts lifetime. Un Mec d'Heripre wins second elimination division  Respected FR speedster Un Mec d’Heripre (8m Orlando Vici-I Love You Darling-Buvetier d’Aunou) sat outside leading Royal Fighter (8m Varenne-Froken Julie-Supergill) with Jennifer Tillman up for Per Eriksson, avoided traffic when Call Me Keeper went offstride on the backstretch, and moved alongside and then eased past Royal Fighter to the lead at top stretch.   Favorite Nuncio (5m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane), with Orjan Kihlstrom up for Stefan Melander, surged into contention from fifth but could not overtake the Jos Verbeeck reined, Fabrice Souloy trained Un Mec d’Heripre that held by a length timed in 1.09.3 kr (fractions 1.08.8kr at the 500 meter mark and 1.09.6kr atg the 1000). Billie de Montfort (5f Jasmin de Flore-Quismy de Montfort-And Arifant) was fourth for David Thomain and trainer Sebastien Guarato.   The winner was off at 8/1 on the PMU network while Nuncio was the favorite at 0.5/1 on PMU and 9/10 on Fintoto. Driver Verbeeck has enjoyed a successful weekend so far after winner yesterday with Bird Parker.   Post positions for the final with 3SEK million to the winner follow: 1. Un Mec d’Heripre 2. Timoko 3. Resolve 4. Nuncio 5. Propulsion 6. Royal Fighter 7. Billie de Montfort 8. Oasis Bi by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink    

Stefan Melander has trained some great trotters during his harness racing career, including 2006 Prix d’Amerique winner Gigant Neo and 2001 Hambletonian winner Scarlet Knight, but he has never enjoyed a relationship with a horse in quite the same way as with Elitloppet favorite Nuncio. Nuncio, who is also owned by Melander, is the 2-1 favorite according to online oddsmakers to win Sunday’s (May 29) prestigious Elitloppet, an invitational for older trotters that features an international lineup, at Solvalla Raceway in Stockholm. Nuncio, a 5-year-old stallion who was a star in the U.S. at ages 2 and 3, has won all four of his races this season and 14 of 17 starts since arriving in Europe last year. He finished third in last year’s Elitloppet. “Last year he was just great; he came to Sweden in good shape,” Melander said in an e-mail translated by associate Simon Hagen. “Jimmy Takter and Jim Oscarsson (who each trained Nuncio in the U.S.) did a great job with him. He trained very good so we decided to participate in the Elitlopp last year even if I think it was a little bit too early. He arrived to my farm in February so he just had two races before the Elitlopp. “This year I have been able to get him in good shape before the race. He has grown enormously much. Last year I saw that he probably needed a year to be perfect, which I think he is now. He is much bigger and stronger.” Nuncio is a son of stallion Andover Hall out of the mare Nicole Isabelle. He raced primarily for Oscarsson at age 2 and solely for Takter at age 3, when Nuncio and regular driver John Campbell won the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot and finished second in the Hambletonian. For his career, Nuncio has won 30 of 44 races, never finishing worse than third in any start, and earned $2.18 million. “I am really impressed that he makes everything so easy,” Melander said. “He is so special, too. He knows that he is best in our stable but he is not cocky or anything. He is so smart. I have trained Gigant Neo and Scarlet Knight, but this horse is so special he actually understands you when you talk to him sometimes.” Melander, who is a renowned photographer as well as a horseman, won the 2010 Elitloppet with Iceland. He grew up less than a mile from Solvalla Raceway and took photos in the stables when he was a teenager. “If I could win again with Nuncio it would be just great,” Melander said. “Iceland was a really good horse but cannot compete with Nuncio. I train them different. Nuncio just wants to race with all my other horses so I have to drive him for himself on the straight track. Usually we have up to 30-35 horses in every set.” Nuncio trained Thursday and will jog and walk in the days prior to the race, Melander said. “He loves to go out and jog,” Melander said. “We also ride him and he really loves it.” Melander has been Nuncio’s regular driver, but will give the lines to Orjan Kilhstrom for Sunday’s Elitloppet. Kilhstrom won last year’s Elitloppet with Magic Tonight and the 2003 edition with From Above. “Orjan Kilhstrom is a better driver than me,” Melander said. “I think sometimes that I am a little bit too kind to (Nuncio). I actually wanted John Campbell to drive him, but his daughter would be getting married this weekend, which I understand is more important.” Nuncio races Sunday in the second of two Elitloppet eliminations. The top four finishers from each division advance to the same-day final. The first elimination features the next three best bets to win the race according to the oddsmakers: 2014 champion Timoko (7-1), formerly U.S.-based Propulsion (9-1) and U.S. representative Resolve (10-1). Timoko, who finished second in this year’s Prix d’Amerique, has won three of six starts this season. The 9-year-old stallion has earned $4.43 million in his career. Five-year-old Propulsion, who raced for trainer Tony Alagna in the States, is 3-for-3 this year. Resolve is trained and driven by two-time Elitloppet winner Ake Svanstedt. “This year almost all the horses can actually win this race,” Melander said. Nuncio isn’t Melander’s only shot at winning the race. He also sends out Volstead in the first elimination. Volstead is a son of stallion Cantab Hall out of the mare Madame Volo. He was purchased as a yearling for $50,000 at the 2012 Lexington Selected Sale. He is a full brother to stakes-winner High Bridge and his family also includes stakes-winners Missy’s Goalfire, Have You Ever, Lassie’s Goal, and Lear Jetta. “I actually think Volstead has a good chance to be among the (top) three,” Melander said. “His last performance he was outstanding. If we take it to the final and get a decent position, I would almost be worried if I was Nuncio.” Sunday’s card at Solvalla also features appearances by two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Pinkman, French Laundry, and Uncle Lasse in a Group 2 event for 4-year-old trotters. Yannick Gingras will drive Pinkman. Also, millionaire Wild Honey competes in a Group 2 event for 4-year-old female trotters. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Stefan Melander’s Volstead (5m Cantab Hall-Madame Volo-Yankee Glide) took today’s 1640 meter autostart HKH Prins Daniel V75 Gold (400,000SEK to the winner) clocked in 1.09.8kr (1:52.31 mile rate). Melander drove the 4.8/1 odds third choice and earned an Elitloppet invitation as a result of the win, his 13th in a career that also shows six seconds in 30 starts for earnings of 2,937,250SEK. Volstead was bred in the US by Arden Homestead Stable. 1.1/1 Nimbus CD (6g Mythical Lindy-Kiss of Life-Tenor de Baine) was second today for Erik Adielsson, ahead of 13/1 Ed You (9g Love You-Lancia Brick-Super Arnie) driven by trainer Robert Bergh. 8/1 Mosaique Face with Lutfi Kolgjini up and 12/1 Food Money reined by Jennifer Tillman ended fourth and fifth with Magic Tonight sixth for Orjan Kihlstom and Cool Keeper seventh. Today’s HKH Prins Daniels resulted in the winner Volstead and Magic Tonight to be added to the Elitloppet lineup. The group named so far follows: Magic Tonight Volstead Call Me Keeper On Track Piraten BBS Sugarlight Nuncio Voltigeur de Myrt Resolve Propulsion Un Mec d’Heripre Oasis Bi Your Highness Timoko The Elite race is shaping up to be competitive and interesting to see Nuncio and Timoko do battle. Thomas H. Hicks  

Nuncio (5m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane) won Solvalla’s Kat 1 on the V64 Wednesday harness racing program over 1640 meters autostart with 100,000SEK to the winner. Owner/trainer Stefan Melander was again at the lines as the 2/5 odds favorite scored timed in 1.10.3kr (mile rate 1:53.11). 7/1 Vasterbo Highflyer (8g Look de Star-Vasterbo Highclass-Pine Chip) was second for Daniel Reden ahead of third finishing 3/1 Nimbus CD (6g Mythical Lindy-Kiss Of Life-Tenor de Baune) with Orjan Kihlstrom up. Food Money and I Saw You were fourth and fifth.  Nuncio, bred by Russell C. Williams of Hanover, PA USA, now has a 30-12-1 slate in 44 career outings for 18,472,726SEK earned. Today’s victory was his sixth straight and 12th in the last 13 starts since being 2-3 in the 2015 Elitloppet. Nuncio scored on April 27 timed in 1.09.9kr (1:52.47), his best of the year. The Elitloppet accepted invites now include Nuncio, Timoko, Your Highness, Oasis Bi, Un med d’Heripre, Propulsion, Resolve and Voltigeur de Myrt.. Thomas H. Hicks  

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