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April 25, 2015 - Harness racing driver Peter Untersteiner steered BBS Sugarlight (6g Super Light-Sugarsweet Sid) to victory at 8/1 odds in Saturday’s Olympiatravet (€295,515 purse, Gr. I with 10 international starters, 2140 meters autostart) defeating fast closing 19/1 Oasis Bi (7m Toss Out-Up Front JM) and Bjorn Goop by three lengths. Voltigeur de Myrt (6m Opus Viervil-Myrtille des Bois) was third at 8/1 for Gabrielle Gelormini. Favorite Support Justice (6m Kadabra-Artisane) was fourth for G-V Gundersen ahead of Princess Grif and Maven, The winner was clocked in 2:31.3 (1.10.7kr) and the result illustrates the depth of talent among European fast-class performers. Thomas H. Hicks

April 11, 2015 - Noras Bean (10m Super Arnie-Easy Bean-Songcan) won today’s L.C. Peterson-Broddas Minne (fourth Olympiatravet qualifier, €150,000SEK to winner, 2140 meters autostart) at Jagersro. The Stefan Soderkvist driven veteran recorded career victory 22 in 77 starts now for earnings of 12,035,653SEK. Noras Bean took an early lead and held that advantage comfortably to win by just over a length in 1.11.1kr. This victory earns an Olymipatravet position albeit Noras Bean tired late and looked unsound coming back to the winners enclosure. Favorite Maven was away seventh from post 10 in the second row. She moved up with cover, fourth on the outer, until making a solid three-wide surge around the last bend. She was unable to close on the leader and gamely gained second for Johnny Takter by a nose over El Mago Pellini with Lutfi Kolgjini up. Thomas H. Hicks

March 28, 2015 - Johnny Takter teamed Maven to her first European victory today, taking the Prixies Lopp for Mares (2140 meters, 1.3 miles, Kat 1) at Solvalla, taking the co-feature worth 200,000SEK to the winner. Takter left alertly from post eight, eased three-wide to the front out of the first turn and led throughout to a five length victory, after Your Highness and Bjorn Goop made a miscue when pressing for the lead in the last turn. Maven (6f Glidemaster-M Stewart-American Winner) recorded her 30th career victory now for earnings of 14,088,134SEK for trainer Jimmy W. Takter. Maven was clocked in 1.11.2kr (off even fractions) to secure victory from Youana for Erik Adielsson and Jumble As with Flemming Jensen up. Fourth went to Stylish Hanover with Orjan Kihlstrom aboard. This victory has earned an Elitloppet invite for the talented Maven. Digital Ink Wins Today’s Gr. II UET Masters Series at Solvalla The Orjan Kihlstrom teamed, Stefan Melander’s owned and trained Digital Ink (6g Super Photo Kosmos-Laverda des Pres-Filou du Boscail), took today’s featured Gold Series at Solvalla, his eighth straight to boost his career earnings to 5,282,800SEK (24th win in 48 starts). Digital Ink was away mid-pack and then advanced to a first moving position to gain command midway through the contest from which he drew away for a comfortable win to earn 250,000SEK winner share of the purse. Clocked in 1.11.4kr over the 2140 meters autostart distance, the winner took victory from OBI Wan (6g Ganymede-Heja Reerstrup-Speedy Herve) and teamster Jurgen Sunnesson with third to the Torbjorn Jansson teamed Porthos Amok (6m Orlando Vici-Baroness Amok-Pine Chip). Thomas H. Hicks  

March 27, 2015 - Stefan Melander’s Digital Ink, to be teamed by Orjan Kihlstrom, is the harness racing favorite in Saturday’s Gr. II Gold UET Masters Series at Solvalla. Named the Triton Sund Trot, the first place share is 250,000SEK in this 2140 meters autostart contest. The top field of 12 includes Candor Hall, Kash’s Cantab, Obi Wan and Haraldinho. The Pixies event for mares (200,000SEK to the winner, 2140 meters autostart) includes 12 starters. Maven and teamster Johnny Takter lead this group ahead to contestants Jumble As, My Golden, and M.T. Harmony. Thomas H. Hicks

The 4-year-old Nuncio, who last year was one of the leading 3-year-old trotters in North America, has been approved as a stallion in his new home country of Sweden. In that country every trotting stallion who is going to be used for breeding must be presented to a committee named by Svensk Travsport the Swedish equivalent to the United States Trotting Association. Nuncio, who is sired by Andover Hall, was awarded 82 points and along with Swedish bred Yarrah Boko (by the French sire Coktail Jet), who also was awarded 82 points, this was the highest between the 21 stallions who were presented. Points are awarded for career, pedigree, stamina and exterior and the maximum points is 100. The Danish-bred Tumble Dust, sired by Crazed, came third with 81 points. Nuncio is not going to be bred this year, but will return to action within a month, his owner/trainer Stefan “Tarzan” Melander said. by Karsten Bønsdorf, USTA Newsroom Senior Correspondent  Courtesy of the United States Trotting Association Web Newsroom

March 15, 2015 - Group II action at Ippodromo Padova resulted in victory by Santiago D’ete (4m Daguet Rapide - Love Me Tender) in the Gr. II Prix Citta di Padova for four year-olds on Sunday. The winner, reined by Roberto Andreghetti, scored in a record 1.11.5kr to record career victory seven in 24 starts for earnings of €118,529. The purse was €45,100 for this 1640 meter autostart test over the half-mile track. Sharon Gar (4f Varenne-Geneve Gar-Lemon Dra) was second for Pietro Gubellini with third to Superbo Capar (4m Calpso Capar-Dark Degli Ulivi-Indro Park). The card also included the Gr. II Prix le Padovanelle (purse €45,100, 1640 meters autostart) that went to Re Italiano Ur (5m Ganymede - Dark Lux SM) clocked in 1.12.4kr for Enrico Bellei. The 11 time winner in 35 starts has earned €272,641. Royal Blessed (5m Varenne - Ivory Kronos) was second for Wim Paal ahead of Per Amour Gual and teamster Roberto Andreghetti. While conducted at Halmstad (SWE) Italy’s Rossella Ross (5f Self Possessed - Northern Jewel-Garland Lobell), trained by Jerry Riordan and driven by Johnny Takter, took the 40,000SEK first money Lars B Persson Foto for five year-old mares. The winner is owned by breeder Francesco Rosselli and she recorded her ninth career win in 25 outings. Donna di Quattro (5f Love You-Whoopie As-SJ’s Photo was second for Christoffer Eriksson. Whoopie As is a daughter of Why Indeed by Speedy Crown. Fascination ended third for Johan Untersteiner. Thomas H. Hicks

Harness racing trainer Jerry Riordan scored a training double Wednesday at Jagersro in Sweden as a pair owned by Lisa Riordan and bred by the late Lou Guida took impressive wins. Sylvester America (4m Varenne - Armbro Voice - Garland Lobell) scored in 1.13.7kr to earn 70,000SEK first money in a 2140 meter autostart event for four-year olds. Christoffer Eriksson was the pilot as Sylvester recorded career win seven in 17 starts. He’s undefeated in two 2015 starts. The winner is from an excellent family that includes $100,000 plus winners Laurel America, Red Rose America and Michael America. In the card’s finale Radysin America (5f Donato Hanover - Zagabria Dei - Victory Dream) scored in a sharp 1.11.6kr over 1640 meters to earn 60,000SEK first prize. The event for mares saw the Peter Ingves teamed winner defeat Alchemilla Rich with Johnny Takter aboard. The winning mare, trained by Riordan, secured her 10th career win in 28 starts and first in the current year. She’s a half-sister to top international performer Lisa America. Thomas H. Hicks  

Trenton, NJ --- As a youth growing up in Sweden, Marcus Melander would stay up all hours of the night following the results of U.S. harness racing. And considering there is a six-hour time difference, we do meanall hours. But that was the allure of the sport for Marcus, who was making a good name for himself as a European driver but was always fascinated by Standardbreds in the States. “Everyone in my family always loved America,” Melander said. “We love Sweden too and we always loved America. Especially me, I loved harness racing over here too. I’ve always been in love with American harness racing since 12, 13 years old, sitting up at night with the time difference checking all the big races from here. I always wanted to come here.” His wish came true last year when the Melanders moved from Stockholm to New Egypt, N.J., to purchase the farm owned by the late legend, Stanley Dancer. “We were sitting home and I know my dad said that this farm was for sale and had been for a couple of years,” Melander said. “We said if we had a chance to buy it, maybe we should do it and after a couple of months we decided to do it. “I know about Stanley. He’s a legend. On this farm there’s been many good horses from Stanley’s time and it’s a great farm. I love it here, I’m very happy we had the option to buy it. It’s amazing.” Marcus trains 15 horses at the newly named Melander Stables, and the family owns either all or part of every horse. His dad, Mikael, is a flight captain who works on the farm as much as possible, while his mom Madelene and sister Mikaela tend to the stables and groom the horses. “We’re working as a team and it’s been good, it’s been working out well,” Marcus said. “Fifteen horses are enough. I’ve got seven babies, three 2-year-olds and a couple older ones. It’s perfect.” And it’s only just the start for the 23-year-old Melander, who has been in love with horses from the start. His family bought a farm when he was 7, and Marcus began to work with ponies a year later. “I started to race them, we had about 20 ponies,” he recalled. “Not all the ponies are easy to drive, so it was a good (learning) experience for me. “I stopped doing that when I was 15. You can start to race big horses when you’re 16 in Sweden. So I went to the big horses at 16, I quit school and went to work for my uncle.” That’s not a bad place to learn the ropes, as Marcus’ uncle Stefan (Mikael’s brother) won the Hambletonian with Scarlet Knight in 2001 and currently has multiple-stakes-winner Nuncio. While there, Marcus began training some of the youngsters on the farm. “I learned so much working for my uncle,” Melander said. “He had a big stable with 150 horses in training. He gave me a lot of chances to drive in races too. You can just drive a few races between (ages) 16 and 18, like the fairs here. But when I was 18 I was driving more and more.” And he was succeeding. At age 19, Melander won Sweden’s equivalent to the U.S. Harness Writers Association’s Rising Star Award. He continued to rack up the wins and had just more than 100 when the Melanders moved to America. “I was still working for my uncle until the last year,” Marcus said. “Everything went pretty fast. I drove a lot of races back home and it was hard to quit that, but I decided it would be fun to test it out here.” Once he arrived, he continued to gain tutelage under one of the best ever, as Melander worked for trainer Jimmy Takter over the summer. And considering the summer Takter had, it was a heck of a time to be with that stable. “Working with him taught me a lot,” Marcus said. “None of the drivers knew who I was but in the summer I was traveling a lot with the horses so I got to know people. It was very good.” It was even better on Nov. 1, 2014, when Melander picked up his first U.S. win by driving Alwaysafirsttime to victory at Freehold. Marcus took the early lead and never looked back. “That was awesome,” Melander said. “I had never won over here. Sweden I won a lot but not here. I just loved it. It was great. “It was one of my own horses. She was dropping one class and had been training pretty good so I knew I had a good shot. I came to the lead easy and it felt really good all the way.” The win was exciting for two reasons -- it was his first, and it was on one of his own. “I love to drive,” Melander said. “You get an extra kick when you drive. When you’re racing it’s just so much fun, but it’s also fun to train horses. When you have the babies it’s fun to see the horse from the beginning and how it goes, and when you win (driving) with that horse you’re extra happy. Of course I’m happy if I win any race, but if you win a race with a horse you’ve raised it’s great.” Marcus got an even bigger thrill this past January when he drove Wygant Princess for his first win at the Meadowlands. “That was also with one of my horses and that was just amazing,” he said. “To do it at the Meadowlands was just great.” Melander said the biggest difference in Standardbred racing here and in Sweden is the speed, which isn’t surprising since the races are shorter in the U.S. “It’s faster for the entire race,” he said. “In Sweden it’s a longer distance. Here you go one mile for the most part. In Sweden we have one and a half miles. In Sweden you go from the start, take it easy in the middle and go the last quarter again.” Melander has won four times in America and is hoping to bump that number up if he can get more drives. “I love to drive,” he said. “I would love to drive more. It’s not easy, there’s a lot of good guys out there, but we’ll see. I can drive my own horses and I hope to get more drives.” And who knows. Maybe there will be a young boy in Stockholm staying up all night just to follow the exploits of Marcus Melander. by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent 

The V75 Gold on Saturday went to Dreams Take Time (6m Andover Andover - B My Honey - Viking Kronos handled by Johnny Takter clocked in 1.13.3kr. He earned 150,000SEK for the victory over 2140 meters autostart. Obi Wan was second for Flemming Jensen ahead of 11 year-old veteran Montgomery Hall with Kenneth Haugstad. The Silver Division (125,000SEK, 2140 meters autostart) went to Italy’s Naglo del Nord (8g Naglo - Entita del Nord - And Arifant) with Veijo Heiskanen up timed in 1.13.2kr. Daniel Reden teamed Vasterbo Highclass  (7f Look de Star - Vasterbro Highclass - Pine Chip) home second ahead of Caliber TT (8g Cromwell - Marcon Lady - Marcop Lep) and Johnny Takter. Other winners on the card included Djali Boko (5m Ready Cash - Lucky Lavec-Pine Chip) in 1.13.8kr for Per Nordstrom to earn 110,000SEK for this 2640 meter autostart contest ; Flex Lane (4m Federal Flex - Margo Hall - Like A Prayer) in 1.15.2kr over 2140 meters autostart for Erik Adielsson for 100,000SEK first money ; Folli (6g Self Possessed - M.T. Angel - Juliano Star) in 1.13.3kr in his 1640 meter autostart contest for Johnny Takter to earn 100,000SEK and Geisha Sund (5f Love You - Kanadia - Canada) 1.12.8kr for Torbjorn Jansson. The one earned 100,000SEK for the win over 2140 meters autostart. Thomas H. Hicks  

February 11, 2015 - February 9 at Halmstad showed a victory by the Jerry Riordan trained Rare Wise As (5f Varenne - In Wise As - SJ’s Caviar), clocked in 1.13.5kr. Second dam is Garden Variety by Tagliabue. Lisa Riordan owns the winner, driven this day by Johnny Takter in the Hallands Lopp providing 35,000SEK to the winner. The distance was 1640 meters autostart and the winner recorded career victory number seven. Replay: http://www.atgplay.se/lopp/20150209-halmstad-dd?id=1 February 10 at Jagersro the half-brother of Commander Crowe, Master Crowe (5m Conway Hall - Somack - Mack Lobell, won for the fourth time in five career starts. Thomas Uhrberg drove the winner for owner/trainer Petri Puro. The victory was his second in two 2015 starts in this event clocked in 1.15.7kr over 2140 meters voltstart. The winners’ purse share was 20,000SEK. Second dam is Somolli Ribb by Speedy Somolli. Replay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbimCcegIxQ Thomas H. Hicks      

February 5, 2015 - Today’s Q+ (jackpot €5.25 million) Prix Guy Lux (€75,000 purse, 18 European starters, 2700 meters) went to 17/1 odds pacesetting Traveling Man (10m Supergill - Kimberly Lobell-Speedy Somolli) from Sweden. Pierre Vercruysse teamed the impressive winner for trainer Daniel Reden and owner Stall Zet. He scored in 1.13.9kr off well-rated fractions (1.15.5kr at 1500; 1.14kr at 1000; 1.13.9kr at 500). The winner, in this his first 2015 start, now has 26 career wins for €312,282 earned. Team Job (8g Buvetier d’Aunou - Just Love) was second for Romain Derieux and trainer Yoan Teerlnck at 25/1. Ugor du Beauvoisin (7m Olitro - Klea du Beauvoisin) was third for Alexandre Abrivard at 7/2.  Rapports (pour 2€) Tirelire 5.250.000 € - Numéro plus : 0390   Ordre :       82.392,00€   Désordre :       686,60€   Bonus 4 :       80,00€   Bonus 4sur5 :       29,10€   Bonus 3 :       19,40€ Today’s feature event was the Gr. II UET Masters Series Prix Jean le Gonidec (€120,000, European 10 starters, 2175 meters) and it resulted in an impressive open-lengths score by 4/5 favorite Amiral Sacha (5m Ganymede - Nostalgique Sacha - Goetmals Wood) and driver Gabriele Gelormini for trainer Florent Lamare clocked in 1.13.1kr, with a powerful closing kick off modest fractions (1.13.7kr at 1500; 1.14.1kr at 1000; 1.14.6kr at 500). Andre Battal owns the winner. Amiral Sacha now has seven career wins good for €442,430 earned. Africaine (5f Oiseau de Feux - Italienne), at 2.8/1 odds, rallied from a second over position to end second for Jean-Etienne Dubois, also trainer/owner) ahead of Astor du Quenne (5m Opus Viervil - Qualinka du Quenne) with Eric Raffin up for trainer Sebastien Guarato. 35/1 Re Italiano UR (5m Ganymede - Dark Lux SM) sat outside the winner most of the journey and held fourth for Pierre Vercruysse and trainer Catello Savarese ahead of fifth place Duke of Greenwood (5m Otello Pierji - Nikki Greenwood) off at 26/1 for teamster Robin Bakker for trainer Peter J. Strooper. Venosc de Minel (6g Laetenter Diem - Melia Monochrome) and J-M Bazire took the Prix Leon Zitone (€58,000 purse, European 14 starters, 2700 meters) clocked in 1.14kr. This 2.7/1 favorite, trained by Mme. Severine Raimond, defeated Sweden’s Falcon Haleryd (6g Varenne - Falnos Ballona) with Dominik Locqueneux up for trainer Johan Untersteiner, with third to another Swedish invader Tell Me No Lies (6g Offshore Dream  -B Glorious) with Franck Nivard aboard for trainer Fabrice Souloy. Thomas H. Hicks

February 4, 2015 - Harness racing trainer driver Jean-Michel Bazire piloted 1.8/1 favorite Val Royal (6m Capricio - Buardu du Rib) to victory in the Wednesday Quinte+  Prix de L’lle-et-Vilaine (€50,000 purse, 2100 meters autostart, 17 European starters, Q+ jackpot €5.2 million).  Bazire also trains Val Royal, timed in 1.13.6kr, as the pair defeated Ultra d’Asnois (7m Jasmin de Flore-Hotesse de Feu) with Christian Bigeon up at 7/2. Ustou (7g Niky-Oh Manor) was third at 9/1 for David Thomain. Sweden’s  Photo Princess (10f Super Photo Kosmos-Milady Hornline) ended the contest fourth for Michael Lonborg, also trainer. The relatively low odds top five produced an unusually modest exact order payoff.  Rapports (pour 2€) Tirelire 5.200.000 € - Numéro plus : 0802   Ordre :       2.260,00€   Désordre :       45,20€   Bonus 4 :       9,60€   Bonus 4sur5 :       4,80€   Bonus 3 :       2,60€   The Prix de Bourg-en-Bresse (€58,000, 2700 meters, European females, 15 starters) went to Sweden’s Monas Invercore (6f Viking Kronos - Moras Speranza) for teamster Eric Raffin and trainer Svante Bath.   Clocked in 1.14.6kr the 8/1 winner defeated Va Vole de Lys (6f Oiseau de Feux-Nostalgie du Lys) at 7.5/1 reined by Franck Nivard with third to Vitesse la Ravelle (6f Lontzac-Ma d’Ylea at 67/1 for Tony Le Beller. Italy’s Petra Axe (6f Daguet Rapide-Image Delmar) was fourth with J-M Bazire at the lines. Thomas H. Hicks

January 24, 2015 - Erik Adielsson put Sweden’s veteran On Track Piraten (7g Kool du Caux-Monrovia) on the front early and led throughout to record a three length harness racing score timed in 1.12.2kr in this Gr. III Prix du Luxembourg (€110,000 purse, 2100 meters autostart, Quinte+). The Stall Morkermassa owned campaigner is trained by H.R. Stromberg and he was off as 1.9/1 favorite. Un Fille d’Amour (7f Infant du Bossis-Never So Great) was second at 11.5/1 for David Thomain with Ru de l’Airou (10g Cygnus d’Odyssee) third at 31/1 for Pierre Levesque. Backfire was fourth for Jos. Verbeeck driving. The winner finished briskly after an even pace (fractions 1.11.2kr at 1500; 1.13.1kr at 1000l 1.13.1kr at 500 and 1.12.2kr at finish). The race record was set in 2011 by Rapide Lebel in 1.10.9kr. Turbo Jet took the 2014 edition. Yannick Gingras driven SHT’s Playmate raced well but finished eighth timed in 1.13.2kr for trainer Anders Lindqvist. This mare was in the Arqana Trot sale last evening but did not achieve reserve. Gingras first mount Pershing Bi was a scratch in the second race. Thomas H. Hicks  

Noras Bean (9m Super Arnie-Easy Bean-Songcan) grabbed an early lead for reinsman Stefan Soderqvist in the V-75 Gold contest over 1640 meters autostart on Saturday at Mantorp, Sweden. After five-hunded meters favorite Digital Ink (5g Super Photo Kosmos-Laverde des Pres-Filou des Boscall), with Orjan Kihlstrom up for trainer Stefan Melander, got alongside the leader. Those positions were remained to last turn. Digital Ink lost ground at the beginning of the home stretch and it looked like Noras Bean could prevail. But with only hundred meters to go the Stall TZ owned Digital Ink made a comeback and managed to secure the narrow win in 1.12kr. Miss Sue V. (6f Credit Winner-Sunday Yankee-Muscles Yankee) grabbed the third position for driver Bjorn Goop, trainer Daniel Reden and owner Stall Zet. The winner earned 150,000SEK for the victory, his 18th in 42 outings for career earnings of 4,082,800SEK. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Undefeated Mister JP (2m Taurus Dream-Baghdad Dream-Yankee Glide) remained so on Saturday as trainer/driver Bjorn Goop guided the impressive colt to an easy front stepping victory in this 1640 meter autostart at Jagersro, Sweden in a Grade I Swedish National for two-year-olds event. Timed in 1.13.8kr. J-P Barjon (Ecurie du Citrus) owns the winner, the first record performer of Baghdad Dream that was acquired in foal at Harrisburg and exported to Sweden. The winner earned 600,000SEK and now sports career earnings of 1.3SEK million with six victories. Sucre (2m Jacose-Sugar No Cream-Starchip Enterprise) was second for Steen Juul and Exceed GT (2m Truton Sund-Filoxenia Light-Armbro Trick) ended third for Per Lennartsson. Clemenza AM (2m Muscle Hill-No Better Kronos-Varenne) battled early alongside the winner and ended a game fourth for Lutfi Kolgjini. The Johan Jacobssons test at Jagersro went to Riff Kronos (4m Dream Vacation-Elaine Kronos-Viking Kronos) in 1.13.2kr over 2140 meters turning start. Veijo Heiskanen teamed the winner for Denco HB and earned 150,000SEK to boost career earnings to 2,424,145SEK with this 11th win in 29 lifetime starts. Dante Boko (4g Going Kronos-Margherita Ross-Obo Volo) took second for Lutfi Kolgjini and Backfire (4f Offshore Dream-Fashion Brodde-SJ’s Caviar) was third for Johnny Takter. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

Solvato (5m Donato Hanover-Solveig-Yankee Glide) won today’s V75 Gold Meadow Prophets at Jagersro over 2140 meters autostart. The Veijo Heiskanen trained and reined pupil earned 150,000SEK for the win, his 11th in 45 career starts, now for earnings of 5,233,630SEK. He was timed in 1.12.3kr. Solvato rallied from near the back to circle the field around the last bend to score easily for owner Denco HB. Montgomery Hill (10g SJ’s Photo-Funny Hill-Mr. Vic) was second for Flemming Jensen and Nothing But Class (5m Andover Hall-Bold Dreamer-Donerail) ended third for Peter Untersteiner. The winner hopes to start next Saturday at Paris-Vincennes in the Gr. II International UET Masters Series Prix du Bourbonnais over 2850 meters, the second “B” automatic qualifier for the 2015 Prix d’Amerique. by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink.com

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