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June 30, 2015 - On Thursday at Halmstad Sweden the Gr. I Sprinter Masters takes stage with three harness racing eliminations and a final. The final is worth over 940,000SEK to the winner. The elims include some well-respected contestants including Nunco, Sylvester America, Hillustrious, Volstead and Jontte Boy. A large crowd is expected for the classic event, with elims on Thursday going as races eight though 10 with the final race 13. Sprinter Masters Gr. I 1609 meters autostart, eliminations 100,000SEK to each winner; final same day with purse to winner 940,960SEK with 10 starters Elimination 1 Drive Launcher, Sedstrom Sylvester America, Goop/Jerry Riordan trainer Whitehouse Express, Adielsson Nuncio, Melander Caztor, Kontio King City, Kihlstrom Explosive de Vie, Jim Oscarsson Elimination 2 Hillustrious, Takter Volstead, Kihlstrom Stand Bayou, Reden (4m Donato Hanover-Roux Hanover-Mr. Lavec), slate 4-2-2 in nine starts British Steel, Lindgren Elton Attack, Christoffer Eriksson Warrawee Perseus, Ulf Ohlsson ThewayIam, Goop Elimination 3 Explosive Dust, Kihlstrom (4m Sahara Dynamite-Exclusive Dust-Pine Chip-Enlightenment-Mack Lobell-Classical Way-Speedy Scot-Kerry Way) Secret Mission, Ingves Jontte Boy, Korvenoja Be Spontaneous, Adielsson Party Boat Hanover, Takter Abaz America, Kolgjini Spartan Kronos, Lugauer Thomas H. Hicks    

June 21, 2015 - Maven (6f Glidemaster-M. Stewart-American Winner) scored for harness racing reinsman Johnny Takter in the Viola Silas Mares Trot at Kalmar, covering 2140 meters autostart in 1.11.6kr to earn 100,000SEK first money. Her career slate is now 31-17-4 in 65 starts for 14,909,384SEK earned. In 2015 she is 2-5-0 in 12 appearances for 1,691,214SEK. Jimmy Takter trains Maven. Your Highness (6f Chocolatier-La Belle Lady-Conway Hall) was second beaten two lengths with Ulf Ohlsson up. Eketorpets Tess (8f Kashner Hanover-Joanne-Dignatarian) was third for teamster Peter Untersteiner. The V75 Gold feature on the Kalmar card went to Global Money (8g Love You-Norwegian Beauty-Yankee Glide) clocked in 1.10.2kr over 1640 meters autostart with the winner’s take being 150,000SEK. Robert Bergh steered the winner for owner Stall Lars Vegard HB. Obi Wan (9g Ganymede-Hejsa Reerstrup-Speedy Herve) was second by a length with Flemming Jensen up with third to Kash’s Cantab and Erik Adielsson.   Thomas H. Hicks

June 13, 2014 - On this day in the land of the midnight sun at Boden SWE El Mago Pellini (6m Chocolatier-Mr Intuition-Andover Hall-CR Kay Suzie) and teamster Adrian Kolgjini won the Gr. I International UET Masters Series Norbottens Stora Pris (2140 meters autostart, 1,000,000SEK to the winner, 9 starters) with a gutsy death seat journey outside harness racing favorite Panne de Moteur (7m Credit Winner-Jalopy-Donerail) with Orjan Kihlstrom up for trainer Stefan Hultman. The winner, that applied long lasting pressure on leader Panne de Moteur, is trained by Lutfi Kolgjini for owner Vitkindale HB. El Mago Pellini now has a career slate of 12-5-5 in 43 starts for 4,055,697SEK earned. Third went to On Track Piraten (7g Kool du Caux-Monrovia-Rite On Line) and Johnny Takter (trainer Hans R. Stromberg), that made a rush from the backfield, with Indigious, Backfire and Knows Nothing next to the line. Creatine was away alertly, found the three hole and showed nothing, backing up late in the contest. Nahar, winner of the 2013-2014 editions of this race made a miscue. Some of the better northern European trotters were at the start. Under the midnight sun, still at 23:10 local time, the huge crowd enjoyed an excellent trotting card highlighted by this classic. Thomas H. Hicks

June 8, 2015 - Spartan Kronos (4m Muscle Hill-Dame Kronos-King Conch) secured today’s Ina Scots Ara (200,000SEK first prize, 2140 meters autostart, four year-olds) at Mantorp with harness racing trainer Conrad Lugauer driving. He scored in 1.12.8kr for a length verdict over Explosive de Vie (4g Explosive Matter-Ava-Pine Chip) with Jim Oscarsson up. Origo Tilly (4g Super Arnie-Regina Tilly-Speedy Crown) took third for teamster Torbjorn Jansson. The winner has a 2-1-2 slate in five 2015 appearances for owner Thomas Berchtold and breeder Allev. Kronos Srl. This day, also at Mantorp, Guiding Solo (3m Yankee Glide-Sole Mate-Self Possessed-Sole To Sole-Royal Prestige) took a 1640 meter autostart event for Peter Untersteiner timed in 1.14.4kr. This Kentuckiana Farms pedigree has been consistently productive. The dam Sole Mate was a US$145,000 yearling and was third at age two in the Lexington Filly and Johnston Memorial. She produced Flashback and Mr. Jim Dandy and this maternal family produced Duke Rodney (from Duke’s Dutchess), Courtly, Jermyn Street and Trapped (from Kimberly Dutchess) and other top performers including Justice Hall, Springboard, All About Justice, Just A Con Man, Diva Diva and Top Chef. Thomas H. Hicks

Excellent complementary harness racing action took place this Elitloppet 2015 day at Solvalla. The Monte Elite (1609 meters autostart, 150,000SEK to the winner) went to Torre Crepin (8g Capriccio-Lanaka-Cezio Josselyn) for Adrien Lamy in the fastest monte clocking (world record) ever, 1.10kr (1:52.63 mile rate), eclipsing Prince de Montfort’s 1:53.2 mile rate on the 2010 Elitloppet day. Another FR performer was second,matching the winners time, that being Valdenburg (6g Jeanbat du Vivier-Niella Clairchamp-Tarass Boulba) for Mathieu Abrivard. Denmark’s Armando Kievitshof (8g Ganymede-Continental Lobell-Spotlite Lobell) was third for Philippe Masschaele. Torre Crepin, a noted speedster for short distances, had not won since 2013, also at Solvalla. The mile course suits this talented trotter that has trouble competing over longer 2200 meter distances and up in home country France. That said this veteran campaigner has earned over five million Swedish krona. The Tommy Hannes  Trot (Gr. II International, 1609 meters autostart, 500,000SEK to the winner) went to an impressive Al Dente (4m Scarlet Knight-Mollie’s Photo-SJ’s Photo) with Orjan Kihlstrom up for trainer Conrad Lugauer. He scored in 1.10.6kr for owner Stall Sting to record his 17th victory in 26 starts. The winners’ 2015 slate is 3-1-0 in five outings. Bjorn Goop piloted very fast closing Sylvester America (4m Varenne-Armbro Voice-Garland Lobell) to a second place finish after an early break. Jerry Riordan trains this one for Lisa Riordan and Sylvester America was bred by the late Lou Guida’s Guida Italia Srl. Third went to M.T. James (4m Quite Easy-Peace Treaty-Muscles Yankee) for Ake Lindblom. The Hertz-Biireda Haken Wallner Memorial, a classic event  (three year-olds)  on Elitloppet day, had 10 starters going 1609 meters autostart for 300,000SEK to the winner. Sucre (3m Jacose-Sugar No Cream-Starchip Entrprise) took the prize for teamster Christoffer Eriksson and conditioner/owner Tomas Malmqvist. Timed in 1.11.9kr she paid €5.22 to win. Second was Camelot Sisu (3m Even Better Odds-Warrawee Karri-Dream Of Glory) for Erik Adielsson, trainer Petri Salmela and owner/breeder Sisyfos Racing. Jerry Riordan’s Tango Negro (3m Infinitif-Lisetta Real-Lemon Dra) was third for Bjorn Goop and was blocked on the pegs throughout the stretch. The equally prestigious Rune Stolts (250,000SEK first money, 1609 meters autostart, four year-old mares, 10 starters) resulted in an easy 1.10.7kr victory for Billie de Montfort (4f Jasmin de Flore-Quismy de Montfort-And Arifant) handled by Eric Raffin for trainer Sebastian Guarato. She was an eight length winner today, her 13th victory in 24 career starts. Demanding Sam (4f Donato Hanover-Whitesand Samantha-Credit Winner) was second for Daniel Reden and owner Stall Zet. Norway’s Nelson Nora (4f Muscles Yankee-Lindys Holiday-Dream Vacation) ended third for reinsman Kihlstrom. The BRP Sweden AB (1609 meters autostart, 75,000SEK to winner) was won by Red Team Rex (5m Cantab Hall-Calamity Rex-Pine Chip) in 1.12kr for Orjan Kihlstrom. Bo Westegard trains the winner that nosed out rival Osceola (6m Conway Hall-Prestige November-General November) handled by Tom Erik Solberg with the Tony Wallin steered Carpenter On Tor ending third. Three year-old fillies contested the Telge Energi’s (1609 meters autostart, `150,000SEK first money, 10 starters) with Tough Cookie (3f Yankee Glide-Kemp’s Emilie-Enjoy Lavec) the 1.13.7kr winner for driver Jorma Kontio. Timo Nurmos trains the winner and breeder was Menhammer Stuteri AB. Finland’s Artic Helen was second for Pekka Korpi ahead of Arctic Madonna with Mika Forss up, this one also from Finland. The Solvalla diversified card also included the Kat I Weblink Trot (2610 meters, volt start, 150,000SEK first money) and the 1.13.4kr winner was the Conrad Lugauer trainee For Pleasure As (6m Abano As-Frill AAS, Pine Chip-Doreen As-Diamond Way) for teamster Johnny Takter and owner Mario Huber As the pedigree might indicate, the breeder was the legendary Olympic star and exceptional standardbred breeder Alwin Schockemohle. Comte du Pommeau (6g Marquis du Pommeau-Heike Iron-Sugarcane Hanover) was next for trainer/driver Peter G. Norman. The late Lars Palm bred this one. Third went to Carelin (5m Super Arnie-Carte Blanche-Kosar) for trainer/driver Robert Bergh. Another quick performance on the Solvalla racecourse this day was a 1.10.5kr score by Dante Boko (5g Going Kronos-Margherita Rosa-Abo Volo) for Adrian Kolgjini in the Sanda FM Trot (1609 meters autostart, 100,000SEK to the winner, 12 starters). Lutfi Kolgjini trains Dante Boko. Remember My Name (8m Rotation-Pinespun-Pine Chip) was second for Sandra Eriksson and trainer Hakan K. Persson. Italy’s Paramount (6m Angus Hall-Image-Coktail Jet) was third for Oskar J. Andersson. Etienne Dubois was the breeder of Paramount, trained by Carl-Otto Goransson. The card began early morning with the International Drivers Match (1609 meters autostart, €75,000SEK to winner) featuring 12 outstanding current and legendary pilots. Bjorn Goop captured the crown driving his trainee Antonio AM (5g Orlando Vici-Genua-Super Arnie) clocked in 1.13.3kr. Jeppe Juel was second aboard Prince Cobol, with third to Dave Palone teaming Blue Star Celebrity. Eric Raffin, Jimmy Takter and Orjan Kihlstrom were next to the line. The outstanding beaten drivers included Heinz Wewering and Olle Goop and others. During the early portion of the card fans were able to greet and say thanks for great performances to Maharajah, now retired and in the stallion ranks. Orjan Kihlstrom and trainer Stefan Hultman paraded their champion. Although never in the Elitloppet, Maharajah won 31 times for 23.5SEK million earned. He captured the 2014 Prix d’Amerique. His shoes will be on display as Solvalla and stud duty occurs at Menhammer Stuteri owned by Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg. For extreme racing enthusiasts the Sisyfos Speed race (140 meters autostart, €50,000SEK to winner, nine starters) met expectations. There were three elimination heats (horses 1-3 in heat one, 4-6 in heat two and 7-9 in heat three). The two fastest winners then battled in the final. Dragon Tooma (8g Tom Ridge-Falnos Gaiety-Mack Lobell) won it for Jennifer Tillman, nosing out Italy’s  Next To None SIB with Bjorn Goop up. Let’s not forget the 2015 Jim Fricks Trot for Coldbloods (1609 meters autostart, 300,000SEK first prize) that was quite a victory for the Tor Wolleback driven Lannem Silje (5f Asajerven-Lannem Sjure-Elding) as she recorded a fast 1.18.8kr win (2:06.79 mile rate). He career slate is now 35-1-1 in 37 starts and in 2015 she is 7-0-1 in eight outings. Manprinsen A.M. was second for Gunnar Melander (this one has 37 wins in 61 career starts) with third to Tekno Odin (now 44 wins in 57 starts). Quite a race by a talented group of superstar coldbloods, bringing back memories of Jarvsofaks (1.17.9kr was his world record clocking). Quite a card on the special 2015 Elitloppet Day at Solvalla. Special indeed it was!!! Thomas H. Hicks

May 31, 2015 - In what was a stirring battle among three harness racing champions, Magic Tonight (6m Andover Hall-Miss Possessed-Self Possessed) defended post one and earned a gate to line victory clocked in 1.10.10kr for teamster Orjan Kihlstrom, trainer Roger Walmann and owner AB Svensk Reklanfinans. The winner earned 3,000,000SEK for winning the Gr. I International Grand Slam – UET Masters Series over 1609 meters autostart. It was a magical race and a magical strategic effort by Kihlstrom as he parked both Mosaique Face (6m Classic Photo-Iona LB-Supergill) that was left two wide throughout for Lutfi Kolgjini and three wide Nuncio (4m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane) with owner/trainer Stefan Melander up. Melander tried for the lead in front of the stands the first time but could not clear. Kihlstrom masterfully rated the pace leaving his two adversaries alongside and the other elimination winner Royal Fighter blocked in the pocket and this Jennifer Tillman handled battler ended fourth. Maven, following Nuncio, made a bold wide move around the last bend to surpass the three leaders but she weakened some in mid-stretch. Timoko was taken off the gate early and could not advance enough to contend. Magic Tonight prevailed by a neck on the line with Nunco beaten three-quarters of a length with the field all within three lengths. Mosaique Face was timed in 1.10.16kr, Nuncio timed the same and Royal Fighter at 1.10.29kr in a fantastic, “magical” horse race. Magic Tonight Wires Elitloppet Second Elimination Orjan Kihlstrom put trainer Roger Walmann’s winner Magic Tonight (6m Andover Hall-Miss Possessed-Self Possessed) on the front from the outset and he scored in 1.09.7kr by three-quarters of a length over the game Maven (6f Glidemaster-M Stewart-American Winner) and pilot Johnny Takter. B.B.S. Sugarlight (6g Super Light-Sugarsweet Sid-Sugarcane Hanover) was third for Peter Untersteiner with first over Timoko (8m Imoko-Kiss Me Coulonces-And Arifant)  fourth for Bjorn Goop. The winner now has three wins in five 2015 starts and 19 wins in 54 career efforts for owner AB Svensk Reklamfinans. His breeders were Libfeld and Katz of Canada, and he paid €8.76 to win. This second elimination offered 250,000SEK to the winner of the 1609 meters autostart test. The Elitloppet 2015 Final lineup in post order is: Magic Tonight, Kihlstrom Royal Fighter, Tillman Maven, Johnny Takter Nuncio, Melander B.B.S. Sugarlight, Peter Untersteiner Mosaique Face, Lutfi Kolgjini Timoko, Bjorn Goop Vincennes, Raffin Royal Fighter Wins Elitloppet First Elimination The Per Eriksson trained, Jennifer Tillman teamed Royal Fighter (7m Varenne-Froken Julie-Supergill) gamely took the first elimination (1609 meters autostart, Gr. I, purse to winner 250,000SEK) of the 2015 Elitloppet clocked in 1.10.4kr, overcoming a death seat trip outside of pacesetter Mosaique Face (6m Classic Photo-Iona LB-Supergill) with Lutfi Kolgjini up (finished third). The winner prevailed by three quarters of a length. Second over Nuncio (4m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane) rallied to be second for owner Stefan Melander. Vincennes was fourth for Orjan Kihlstrom. Wind Of The North was third over for Dave Palone and could not gain. Univers de Pan was locked on the pegs but when loose in the lane had little to offer. The winner paid €12.92 to win. Support Justice and Ustinof du Vivier mad miscues. The winner scored his 13th career victory in 57 starts and has a slate of 2-0-3 in five 2015 starts. The owner/breeders are Per Rodert and Christina Nilsson. Thomas H. Hicks

May 30, 2015 - Holger Ehlert trainee Ringostar Treb (5m Classic Photo-Farsalo Egral-Supergill) took today’s harness racing Sweden Cup Final (Gr. II, UET Masters Series, 1609 meters autostart, 500,000SEK to winner), driven by Wilhelm “Wim” Paal. The victor scored in 1.11.3kr for his 17th win in 40 starts, now for earnings of 2,175,498SEK. He is 4-0-0 in six 2015 appearances. Magiccarpetride (9m Angus Hall-Meadowbranch Magic-Valley Victory) was a fast closing second for Bjorn Goop, ahead of Tabriz du Gite (8m Ganymede-Kabrizia du Gite-Capitole) with David Thomain up. Kash’s Cantab was fourth and pacesetter Reven d’Amour was placed fifth through the disqualification of Rod Stewart (blocked throughout down stretch with plenty of trot). The race was conducted over a sloppy track in pouring rain and cold temperature. Ringostar Treb early won his elimination, the first, clocked in 1.10.4kr by two lengths. Reven d’Amour (10m Revenue-Melody d’Amour-Super Arnie) was second for Ulf Ohlsson with David Sisu (7m Lindy Lane-Keystone Delicious-American Winner) third for Johnny Takter. Magiccarpetride with fourth for Erik Adielsson. The elim was raced over 1609 meters autostart with 100,000SEK first money. The second elimination, same distance and purse, went to an impressive Rod Stewart with Christoffer Eriksson at the lines. Rod Stewart made a three wide move around the last bend after racing on the outer with cover three back, and he powered home in 1.10.1kr to win by three lengths. Tabriz du Gite was second for teamster David Thomain with Nato Dream (6m Donato Hanover-Nugget Dream-Pine Chip) third for owner/trainer/driver Stefan Melander. J-P Dubois’ Ecurie Reve Avec Moi bred Nato Dream. Kash’s Cantab (7m Cantab Hall-Ocala Kash-Overcomer) was fourth for Erik Adielsson and trainer Stig H. Johansson. On the Solvalla undercard the Lady Snarts for mares (1609 meters autostart, 200,000SEK first prize) produced a 1.10.9kr victory for Twigs Voici (6f Love You-Twigs Likepine-Pine Chip) with trainer Pekka Korpi up. Delicious (6f Cantab Hall-Ipsara LB-Lemon Dra) was second for Daniel Reden and Stall Zet ahead of D’One (5f Donato Hanover-Giant Diablo-Supergill) and Orjan Kihlstrom aboard for trainer Roger Walmann. Another Donato daughter Talk The Talk was fourth. The 2140 meter autostart Silver Final (220,000SEK to the winner) resulted in an upset victory by Denmark’s Nok’En Frakkert (10g Mastery-Kama Sutra-Lindy’s Crown) with Jorgen Sjunnessin driving. This 1.12.9kr winner defeated Falcon Haleryd (6g Varenne-Falnos Bellona-Mack Lobell)with trainer Johan Untersteiner up and third finishing Greenleaf Slim (5m Andover Hall-Mabelese-Malabar Man) driven by Bjorn Goop for trainer Ulf Stenstromer. A co-feature on Sweden Cup Day each year is the Harper Hanovers (Gr. II International UET Masters Series, 15 starters, 3140 meters volt start for stayers distance handicapped, 500,000SEK to the winner). Five contestants went 3140 meters, three 3160 meters and seven 3180 meters. Indigious (6m Prodigious-Indication-Super Arnie) took the prize timed in 1.13.4kr over 3180 meters. Erik Adielsson did the teaming for trainer Stig H. Johansson and owner Stall Express. Another 40 meter penalized player, Mellby Viking (7m Viking Kronos-Naomi de Lou-Extreme Dream), was second for Jorma Kontio and trainer Timo Nurmos, ahead of 20 meter handicapped Tomorrowland (8m Conway Hall-Justice Done-Donerail) and trainer/driver Ari Moilanen. Early in the card two 1609 meter autostart quick winner are also worth a mention. Editor Rapida (4g Exploit Caf-Sierra Rapida-Express Ride) stopped the clock in 1.11.2kr for Henri Bollstrom and veteran mare Absolut Newport (8f SJ’s Photo-Giant Emotion-Giant Victory-Trolley Square) scored in 1.11.3kr. Second dam produced “Dewey”. The winner from Netherlands recorded career victory 21 in 64 starts and in 2015 shows 3-1-0 in five outings. Peter Ingves teamed this one. Tomorrow promises to be a great day of racing starting with a legends drivers contest and the presentation of Maharajah. Be there! Thomas H. Hicks

May 29, 2015 - Solvalla’s daytime harness racing card started the Elitloppet 2015 weekend for real and sets up tonight’s yearling sale of 87 head, net of outs. Leading sires represented include Ready Cash (11), Muscle Hill (6), Maharajah (4), Cantab Hall (3), two each by Timoko, Infinitif, Muscle Massive, Credit Winner, Kadabra and Yankee Glide. Results will follow separately. Solvalla racing featured wins by Caztor, Sudbury, Bethel Hanover, and Backorder. Caztor (4m Sam Bourbon-Abbondonza-Alf Palema) scored in 1.11.9kr over 1640 meters autostart to earn 30,000SEK first prize with Jorma Kontio up for trainer/owner Timo Nurmos. Santiago Bi, by Love You, was next for Bjorn Goop and Svart Kronos (by Gift Kronos) ended third for trainer Fredrik B. Larsson. The winner was clear by eight lengths. The AM Prints Trot, with 50,000SEK to the winner, was conducted over 2140 meters autostart and Sudbury (4g Infinitif-Emerald di Jesolo-Supergill) was a 1.12.9kr winner by two lengths for trainer/driver Bjorn Goop. Stall Kreditt HB owns this Italian bred from Scuderia Bolgheri Srl. The Offshore Dream four year-old gelding Real Dream was second for Torbjorn Jansson at the lines for Stall Pep and trainer Robert Bergh. The Travtjabstens Mares Trot (75,000SEK to the winner, 2140 meters autostart, five and six year-old females) produced a 1.12.7kr victory for Bethel Hanover (5f Donato Hanover-Beignet Hanover-Malabar Man) and pilot Erik Adielsson. Trained by Per Hedberg for Stall Palema, the winner is 2-1-2 in six 2015 starts. Red Riding Hood (5f Quite Easy-Heather Bi-Pine Chip) was second for trainer/driver Conrad Lugauer and owner Adams HB. The Extrem Events, over 2140 meters autostart for four year-old females (50,000SEK to winner), went to Backorder (4f Chocolatier-Fabulous Kemp-Yankee Glide) by four lengths timed in 1.13.7kr. Timo Nurmos trains Backorder for owner Kings Arms and Jorma Kontio was up. Order by Stable AB bred the winner, now undefeated in three 2015 appearances. Devs Darling (4f Infinitif-See Yawl Hanover-Yankee Glide) was second for Orjan Kihlstrom and trainer Stig H. Johansson. At Paris-Vincennes Group II events and Q+ led the card. The Gr. II Prix Lavatar (€120,000 purse, monte, 2850 meters, 11 starters) went to 2.6/1 Best of Jets (4m Magnificent Rodney-Plume Jets) with Francois Lagadeuc up for trainer/owner Jean Michel Baudouin. The barefoot winner scored very easily with a start to finish journey clocked in 1.13.6kr off even fractions. 8/1 Bilibilli (4m Niky-Quetty du Donjon) was next for Alexandre Abrivard and owner J-P Barjon. 21/1 Biscuit Delavera (4m Ludo de Castelle-Neva du Rosier) was third. Even money favorite Bird Parker was fifth and never threatened. The Quinte+ Prix de la Soiree Tropicale (€72,000 purse, 2700 meters, 17 European participants) went to J-M Bazire trained and driven United Back (7m Ni Ho Ped d’Ombree-Pearl Back) as 3/5 favorite. He scored in 1.13kr after rushing to the front with 1000 meters remaining and holding 73/1 Tina Jolie (8f Jasmin de Flore-Minea des Picanes) safe by three-quarters of a length, the latter handled by Joann Lebourgeois. Italy’s 8/1 Noir Desir (8g Daguet Rapide-Ocanelle) was a rapidly advancing third to the line. The Gr. II Prix France O (€120,000 purse, 2850 meters, 11 starters) was taken by 3/1 barefoot Akim du Cap Vert (5m First de Retz-Prima du Cap Vert) and owner/trainer/driver Franck Anne. He scored in 1.13.1kr. Olmo Holz (7m Uronometro-Veuve du Kras) was a good second at 16/1 for Christophe Martens. 4/1 Uhlan du Val (7m Islero de Bellouet-Indiana Beautiful) was third for trainer/driver Cedrik Megissier ahead of 27/1 Uppercut de Marche (7g Neutron du Cebe-Nuit de Marche) with Damien Bonne driving. Even-money favorite Robert Bi (5m Toss Out-Up Front JM-Self Possessed) was fifth for Robin Bakker. Vision Intense finished eighth and Roxana de Barbray ninth in this fine field. Thomas H. Hicks

May 29, 2015 - The prestigious ASVT Elitauktionen took place this evening before a big crowd. 62 head sold from 94 cataloged and 84 presented net of outs. The average sold was 231,129SEK (US$27,181), with the gross total being over 14.3SEK million. The top four sold all brought above US$70,000.  The sale leader was Coys Rain (male, Muscle Hill-Savvy Yankee) to Reijo Liljendahl for 1,260,000SEK (US$148,176). The maternal family produced US$300,000 plus winners Rocky Balboa and Muscles To Spare. Thomas H. Hicks

Stockholm, Sweden – With the auctioneers voice echoing in the background (in Swedish of course), I attended my first Elitloppet Yearling Sale Friday at the Scandic Infra City in Upplands Vasby. It was a sight to behold from the parking lot across the street for the hotel that holds the sale every year. There is a jumbo TV screen as you cross the street because the parking lot at the hotel is jammed pack. The TV screen has the information on the horse currently being sold. A total of 90 yearlings were to go through the sales ring. But what was unique was that the jumbo TV screen had the current bid prices in Swedish and Norweigan Kroners, Euro and I was not sure of the other demonization. There was already a line of people trying to get into the back area of the sale as the inside arena was packed to the brim with an estimate 500 plus crow of people for the annual sale. There were plenty of vendor booths with horse trailers, Elitloppet t-shirts, caps and hoodies, horse shoes, tack equipment and much more on sale. I was quite surprised as I turned the corner and there was an outstanding buffet and seating for more than 150 people and the seating wrapped around the sales ring so people could eat and watch and bid on the yearling sale. Then I looked around the room and saw people going into a private area so I checked that out and it was private dining room for 250 people with a big screen TV showing the auction and prices and taking bids. It was an amazing crowd for the yearling sale. Top owners and trainers from throughout Europe and the USA. I am guessing that Saturday’s race card with be just as amazing, rain or shine! By Steve Wolf for

May 28, 2015 - Harness racing action aplenty this day in France. and Sweden as the Pick 5 Prix SES Racing Team (€28,000 purse, 2800 meters, 18 starters) went to 1.2/1 favorite A Nous Trois (5m Orlando Vici-Quallas) with Eric Raffin up. Sebastian Guarato trains this 1.14.8kr winner. 8/1 Always Perfect (5m Prodigious-Oh Butterfly) was second for owner/trainer/driver Julien Dubois ahead of 2.3/1 Atout du Lerre (5g Oakwood du Closet-Haquikmie) with driver/trainer Franck Anne piloting. At Nancy-Brabois FR the trotting contests were also interesting. Their Prix Ecole de Nancy (€30,000 purse, 3175 meters distance handicap, eight European contestants) went to 1.18.5kr clocked Kazire du Bob (7g Kazire de Guez-Blow Out Kemp) at 2.2/1 for teamster Franck Ouvrie. Bjorn Goop is his trainer for Stall Torpedo HB of Sweden. 2.3/1 Oronte di Cesato (7m Allison Hollow-Enzaran) reported home second for Christophe Martens, trainer Vincent Martens and owner Onsorio Perfetti of Italy. 13/1 Ungador (7g Gobernador-Oceanic Melody) was third. Also at Nancy-Brabois the Prix des Freres Muller (€25,000 purse, 2600 meters, nine European starters) went to 1.16.7kr winner Vasco d’Orsinval (6g Malicieux Gede-Nuit de Pontignies) at 6/1 for trainer/driver A. Garandeau. 5/1 Shark Attack (7g April Perfect-Step by Step) was next for Philippe Masschaele, trainer J-F Van Dooyeweerd of Holland with 1.3/1 favorite Unogaren (7g Land du Coglais-Neige de la Garen) third for Julien Raffestin, trainer Robert Bergh and owner Ecurie Etoile. At Bergsaker SWE a 2014 Elitloppet starter Shaq Is Back (8m Credit Winner-Vivica Hall-Victory Dream) and trainer/driver Daniel Reden won the Travakademiens Sponsorers Trot (30,000SEK first prize, 2140 meters autostart, 10 starters) clocked in 1.11.3kr for a comfortable win over Rocky Race (10m Super Arnie-Etoile Race-Lindy’s Crown) and Leif Witasp. Stall Zet owns the winner that was US bred by Steve Jones and Fair Winds Farm. This was win number 21 for Shaq in 71 starts good for 4,554,037SEK won. Another last year Elitloppet contestant Sanity (9g Love You-Flash Light-Mack Lobell) was third today for Ulf Eriksson. Sanity has 30 wins in 78 starts for earnings of 10,246,942SEK. It was reported that now retired superstar Maharajah will be presented to the audience on Sunday. He started in four Prix d’Amerique’s winning his last try. He never started in an Elitloppet. The Stefan Hultman trainee won the Olympic Trot, the Prix de Paris, the Swedish Derby, and European Derby and E3. Orjan Kihlstrom drove Maharajah in all but two of his 59 career starts that produced 31 victories for over 23SEK million earned. The “King” will be shown at Solvalla shortly after noon local time. Thomas H. Hicks

Freehold, NJ --- Harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter knows the thrill of winning the Elitlopp. To this day the trainer still gets goosebumps when retelling the story of Moni Maker’s victory in the 1998 edition of Sweden’s elite invitational for older trotters. He hopes to experience the excitement again with Maven on Sunday. Maven is one of the 16 trotters invited to the Elitlopp, which is held at Solvalla Raceway near Stockholm. The field was divided into two eight-horse eliminations, with Maven drawing post four in the second division. The 6-year-old mare will be driven by Takter’s brother, Johnny, and is the morning line second choice in her race. B B S Sugarlight is the morning line favorite in Maven’s elimination and will start from post one. Mosaique Face is the choice in the first elim, which also includes another U.S. representative, Daryl Bier’s Wind Of The North, as well as former North American star Nuncio, who is owned and trained by Sweden’s Stefan Melander. The top four finishers from each elimination return later in the day for the final. “If you don’t get emotional, you’re not human,” Takter said when recounting Moni Maker’s triumph. “This is what we work for. It’s always exciting when you get in there. You put your game face on and feel the excitement all around you.” It is one of the reasons Takter is looking forward to this year’s race. Takter is starting a horse in the Elitlopp for only the second time since Moni Maker’s victory; he also started Uncle Peter last year. But it is not the only reason Takter is making the trip to Solvalla. He will spend four days in Sweden despite a busy schedule at home and hopes in the future races like the Elitlopp will be made the focal point of the racing calendar, thereby eliminating conflicts for trainers and drivers who want to participate in the event or simply travel to watch. “There are three events in this sport -- the Hambletonian, Elitlopp, and Prix d’Amerique -- and I feel we are obligated to be there,” Takter said. “There aren’t that many fans left in this sport and the Elitlopp is by far the biggest one when it comes to fans and what they’re doing. People that haven’t been there can’t even imagine. “The world is so small now. We have to start thinking about going together instead of going against each other. I spoke to (Meadowlands Racetrack Chairman) Jeff Gural and asked that next year there are no big conflicts, like the (New Jersey) sire stakes finals, the same weekend as the Elitlopp. “If we don’t take care of those three events, they’re going to die out too. You see a lot of Europeans coming over here for the Hambletonian as a spectator, even trainers and people like that. The Elitlopp has unbelievable fan support. I have to be there.” Moni Maker was the last U.S.-owned horse to win the Elitlopp. She also was the last female trotter to win the race. Maven -- who is owned by John Fielding, Herb Liverman, and Joyce McClelland -- will try to end both droughts. She heads to the Elitlopp off a second-place finish in the Copenhagen Cup, which was contested at 1-1/4 miles. Last year, Maven finished third in her Elitlopp elimination and sixth in the final while in the stable of Jonas Czernyson. This year, she prepped for the Elitlopp by racing exclusively in Europe, where despite poor race luck and draws she has a win and three second-place finishes from nine starts. Maven, who was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best older female trotter, has won 29 of 52 North American races in her career, good for $1.74 million in purses. “I think she’s ready,” Takter said. “I really think so. I think we have a heck of a shot. She’s probably much better prepared now than she was last year. She got adapted to the European system a little bit. Now she even handles a mile and a quarter better. I don’t think I could have her better than I have her right now. “She can win it if the race goes her way. But it’s a wide open race. I would say out of 16 horses, 10 or 12 of them could be the winner.” If Maven is unable to win, Takter would enjoy seeing Nuncio take the honor. Takter trained Nuncio last season and saw the horse win the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot and finish second in the Hambletonian. Nuncio is 2-for-2 this year, but will have to overcome post seven in his elimination. “I’m sure Stefan wishes he had another start in him, but you can never rule that horse out,” Takter said. “The race is going to be high pace and if he’s sitting third over I could see him coming very good in the last quarter (of a mile). He never gives up. I really hope that he’s going to race good. He deserves that, to show he’s a top horse, which he is. “He’s a winner. If I don’t win the race, I would be very happy for him to win. They’re great people that own the horse and I’d have a little part of that Elitlopp too because I developed him as a 3-year-old.” World champion Wind Of The North drew post eight in his elimination. Dave Palone -- the winningest driver in harness racing history -- will drive the 5-year-old gelding for Bier, who owns the horse with Joann Dombeck. Wind Of The North is coming off a second-place finish to Bee A Magician in the Cutler Memorial on May 16 at the Meadowlands. He has won three of 10 races this year and 16 of 61 in his career, earning $322,848. Five horses have odds in single digits to be the overall Elitlopp champion: B B S Sugarlight, Mosaique Face, Nuncio, Timoko, and Maven. Timoko, who drew post seven in the second elimination, is the defending champion. Here are the fields: 1st elimination: 1. Univers de Pan 2. Support Justice 3. Vincennes  4. Mosaique Face 5. Ustinof du Vivier 6. Royal Fighter 7. Nuncio 8. Wind Of The North 2nd elimination: 1. B B S Sugarlight 2. Nahar 3. Brett Boko  4. Maven 5. Magic Tonight 6. On Track Piraten 7. Timoko 8. Voltigeur de Myrt by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

Caen’s harness racing feature today was the Prix de Saint-Martin (monte, €38,000 purse, 2450 meters, 13 starters) and jockey Eric Raffin rode Tamerlan(8g Capriccio-Hematite) to a 1.14kr victory, his seventh in 66 career starts. The 6/1 winner is owned by Ecurie Danover and trained by St. Provoost. Salieri (9g Hermes des Pericard-Lysanxia) was second for David Thomain at 4/1 with third to 12/1 Ulpia des Jipes (7f Mon Bellouet-Obiga des Jipes) for trainer/jockey Franck Nivard. At Solvalla, their Elitloppet weekend began with a series of ASVT Trottex Auktionsloop events each with a winner’s reward of 110,000SEK. The three year-old females battled over 2140 meters autostart and Bjorn Goop teamed Tunika (3f Zola Boko-Verona du Ling-Super Arnie) to an easy 1.14.3kr victory. Tomas Malmqvist trains for owner Stall Tumble Boys-Easy and Tunika was bred by Menhammer Stuteri AB. The winner is 5-2-1 in nine career starts. Magnesia (3f Magnetic Power-Mertensia-Super Arnie) with Oskar J. Andersson up was second for trainer Jorgen Westholm. Second dam is by Speedy Spin. Orjan Kihlstrom teamed Teeter Totter (3f Jaded-Marelle-VikingKronos) home third. This one was also a Menhammer Stuteri AB bred. The three-year old males also fought over 2140 meters autostart for 110,000SEK first money with Poet Broline (3m Quite Easy-Candelia-Armbro Goal) victorious for trainer/driver Peter Untersteiner clocked in 1.14.1kr by open lengths. Broline International AB bred the winner that is owned by Sven-Goran Sjostrom. Another colt division (same distance and purse) went to Bjorn Goop reined Pacific Broline clocked in 1.14.3kr. Goop is also trainer of the Franck Leblanc owned, Broline International AB bred winner, now 4-1-0 in six starts lifetime, all in 2015. Another filly division (same distance, purse) went to Facile Boko (3f Virgill Boko-Zacile Boko-Muscles Yankee) with Erik Adielsson up timed in 1.14.1kr. She was an easy winner for owner Easy KB and trainer Svante Bath. Boko Stables Holland BV bred this one, now 5-5-1 in 13 career appearances. Also on the Solvalla card was the Gotlandssnus for mares (2140 meters autostart, 50,000SEK first money) and Ulf Ohlsson teamed Faith Hill (4f Muscle Hill-A Girl Named Sugar-Pine Chip) to a close there horse finish timed in 1.14.8kr. Stefan Melander trains the winner for his Stall TZ. Lebanon, Kentucky’s Jim Avritt bred Faith Hill. The mares also contested the E-trafik (1640 meters autostart, 60,000SEK first money) and Orjan Kihlstrom piloted Denmark’s Speed Hill (6f Goetmals Wood-Funny Hall-Mr. Vic) to a 1.11.6kr win. Roger Walmann trains the winner for Stuteri Sun Hill, also breeder. Speed Hill is 10-3-4 in 28 career starts. Thomas H. Hicks

In his own words, harness racing owner Duncan McPherson OAM is “living the dream” with his three-year-old colt Aldebaran Eagle, who will race in the New Jersey Sires Stakes Final at the Meadowlands on Sunday morning Australian time. The son of Muscle Hill / Letsjusttalkaboutme ran third in his heat in 1:52.4 and will come out the five gate in the $US100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final for three-year-old colts and geldings over a mile. “It’s an incredible experience,” a beaming McPherson said. Aldebaran Eagle will be driven by Corey Callahan and is trained by Jonas Czernyson. McPherson, the Principal at Aldebaran Park, has a passion for harness racing that has no bounds and will also get a huge thrill out of having Excellent Boku competing at Sweden’s Solvalla racetrack on the Elitlopp program on Sunday. Raced in conjunction with Michael Taranto, who also has a big week ahead with Australian and international runners – including Livin The Life in the New South Wales Trotters Derby – Excellent Boku was purchased to ultimately be exported to Australia. And as if the weekend wasn’t going to be jam-packed enough for McPherson, he will also line up Aldebaran Ay in the 2YO Ruby at the rich Harness Jewels program at Ashburton. The Colin De Filippi trained and driven filly has drawn outside the front line in the $100,000 race. By Cody Winnell

May 25, 2-15 - Some refer to Saturday’s Sweden Cup as the little Elite race and often it includes past and future harness racing Elitloppet players. Italian trotters are well represented and they have performed well in past Sweden Cups. Irving Rivarco and Owen's Club (which also holds the record of the Finale with 1.09.7kr) are the two Italian winners both led by Pietro Gubellini. In the first elimination Saturday Ringostarr Treb, trained byHolger Ehlert and driven by Wim Paal take their shot along with Olympic Kronos and Lufti Kolgjini. Second elimination includes Orione Spin and Kolgjini, Royal Blessed with Paal and Rod Stewart rained by Jerry Riordan. The elims also include well-regarded Reven d’Amour, that competed in a US Breeders Crown several years ago, and the J-P Dubois bred Nato Dream now owned by Stefan Melander. This year’s event has 20 starters aligned in two mile sprint eliminations, as shown below: Solvalla – 5-30-15 Saturday Sweden Cup 3a race 1  RINGOSTARR TREB* (IT) h 5 Paal Wilhelm (Ehl Ho) 1609 2  REVEN D'AMOUR h 10 Ohlsson Ulf (Lar FB) " 3  MAGICCARPETRIDE US* (US) h 9 Adielsson Erik (Ped An) " 4  OLYMPIC KRONOS (IT) h 7 Kolgjini Lutfi " 5  HIGHSPEED CALL v 7 Jansson Torbjörn (Pet Ni)a " 6  GOING FOR GOLD ZAZ h 7 Bergh Robert " 7  NOUVELLE PELLE v 12 Eriksson Kim (Joh Bo)a " 8  PRINCE TAGG h 9 Karlstedt Ralf " 9  DAVID SISU h 7 Takter Johnny (Sal Pe) " 10  DISCO A.E. h 7 Kihlström Örjan (Mel St) "   4a race 1  KASH'S CANTAB (US) h 7 Adielsson Erik (Joh SH) 1609  2  ORIONE SPIN (IT) v 7 Kolgjini Adrian (Kol Lu) " 3  VÄSTERBOONTHENEWS v 7 Ingves Peter (Pur Pe) " 4  NATO DREAM (US) h 6 Melander Stefan " 5  TABRIZ DU GITE* (FR) h 8 Thomain David (Lel Je) " 6  GOLDEN SID v 8 Jansson Torbjörn (Lin Bj) " 7  I SAW YOU v 10 Lindblom Åke " 8  MONSTER DRIVE h 9 Lövgren Joakim " 9  ROYAL BLESSED* (IT) h 5 Paal Wilhelm " 10  ROD STEWART* (IT) h 5 Eriksson Christoffer (Rio Je) "     Mosaique Face took the 2014 Sweden Cup and he may be a factor in the 2015 Elitloppet. Thomas H. Hicks

May 24, 2015 - Today’s featured harness racing action in France took place at various rural venues with one on the turf. The Prix Bernigaud (€34,000 purse, 2625 meters distance handicapped, 15 European starters) went to 15/1 Triton de Meunier (8g Camelia du Donjon-Ora de Meaunier) that overcame a 25 meter penalty to score in 1.17.1kr over 2650 meter distance. J-I Verrier teamed and trains and owns the winner. Uncle Oaks (7g Le Big Boss-Ile d’Or) was second for Th. Issautier at 5/1 with third to 4/1 Scarlet de l-Iton (9f Ideal d’Iton-Hermine de l’Iton) with trainer Thierry Collaud up. 6/1 Going As (7g Pink Diamond-Go Lucky) was fourth for Germany’s owner Stall Germanian and Stall Rubin. At Avignon the turf masters were at the start in the Prix du Chateau de Segries (€45,000 purse, 2650 meters distance handicapped, 16 starters). Barefoot Tresor Wic (8m Jag de Bellouet-Epona Vinn) and reinsman Daniel Bekaert overcame a 25 meter penalty to score in 1.18.1kr at 2/1 over his 2675 meter distance. 11/1 Verdict d’Honneur (6g Prodigious-Ploace d’Honneur) was second ahead of 50 meter penalized 87/1 Ramses des Charmes (10g Kiss Francis-Hydra de l’Epinay). Laurent Simon trains the first and third place finishers. At Solvalla today the two Elitloppet 2015 eliminations were drawn as shown below. 1a Elimination Univers de Pan (Philippe Daugeard) Support Justice (Geir Vegard Gundersen) Vincennes (Örjan Kihlström) Mosaique Face (Lutfi Kolgjini) Ustinof du Vivier (Mattieu Abrivard) Royal Fighter (Jennifer Tillman) Nuncio (Stefan Melander) Wind Of The North (Dave Palone) 2a Elimination B.B.S.Sugarlight (Peter Untersteiner) Nahar (Robert Bergh) Bret Boko (Ari Moilanen) Maven (Johnny Takter) Magic Tonight (Örjan Kihlström) On Track Piraten (Erik Adielsson) Timoko (Björn Goop) Voltigeur de Myrt (Gabrielle Gelormini)   Univers de Pan drew post one in the opener and he was full of trot and blocked in the Finlandia AJO. Fast front-runner Mosaique Face (1:09) Saturday in Sweden drew the advantageous post four for Lutfi Kolgjini. Four year-old Nuncio and trainer/driver Stefan Melander drew post seven with US invader Wind Of The North at post eight for sulky-sitter Dave Palone, the American driver who has just passed the 17,000 victories. Per Eriksson’s Royal Fighter drew post six for driver Jennifer Tillman. Elimination two has Timoko and Bjorn Goop scoring from post seven with Nahar and Robert Bergh from post two.Finlandia AJO pacesetting winner Bret Boko goes from post three and Maven starts from post four for Johnny Taker and trainer Jimmy Takter, today an easy winner in the US with Father Patrick in the Maxie Lee Memorial, defeating pocket-sitting Bee A Magician. Thomas H. Hicks

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