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Galopperande samhällskommentator som också gillar handboll, film, musik - gärna henryk gorecki. Numera Strängnäsbo.

The Illegal Hunt for a ”Super Horse”

One of many interesting lectures at the EMHF* Annual Meeting in Oslo was about the threats of gene doping. Simon Cooper from the British Horseracing Authority and vco- chairman of the European African Stud Book Committe has looked into the risks of gene doping and the possibilities to find ways to test if horses have been gene doped. He remarked:

”DNA can be inserted, substituted, deleted any number of ways. — Gene editing kits can be bought on the internet.”

He also told the delegates about tests in Australia with mice:

”Mice normally will run for about 800 metres before they’ve had enough. After some mice were injected with the stamina protein PEPCK and genetically manipulated, they ran six kilometres.”

The risks for thoroughbred racing is obvious. No gene doping has been found – yet. But part of the problem is ”that we can’t say unequivocally that it has not happened, because there is as yet no test to determine whether or not a horse has been subjected to the gene technique” – which of course is strictly forbidden in the thoroughbred world.

Among horses the most risky period is between conception and birth.

Gene doping could change the development among thoroughbred horses and be a tempting tool for those with criminal purposes. They might want to find a Super Horse.

A Nazi dream

But those dreams are not at all new. Adolf Hitler and the nazis also tried to find a ’’Super Pferd’ during the second World War.  But it was not primarly about thoroughbred horses. It concerned Lipizzaner horses.

”Just as Nazi ideology peddled pseudo-science regarding breeding a human ”master race,” Hitler also believed he could selectively breed horses to create the finest, bravest, and ”purest” war horses in world military history. This decision was not some extracurricular pipe dream of the Führer, but a deliberate response to the country’s poor fortunes during World War I.”

”After World War I, several factors combined to almost destroy horse breeding and equestrian sports in Germany. The numbers of equine casualties were so high during the war that the horse population declined by half. In addition, the inflationary conditions in Germany made the sale and upkeep of horses difficult, and to further complicate matters, Germany was required to export horses as part of the reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles”, Elizabeth Letts writes in her book ”The Perfect Horse”.

German leaders genuinely believed they needed more horses for the war effort. (Letts writes that by 1938, their army was using more than 180,000 horses and donkeys—and Hitler was convinced that he needed even more.)

Hitler chose Gustav Rau, a hippologist who had spent years tirelessly promoting Germany’s horse-breeding industry to create a e perfectly pure ’super breed”. To do so, Rau set his eyes on the famous Lipizzaner stallion, a beautiful and regal breed. Rau believed he could create legions of identical, pure white military horses through aggressive inbreeding of Lipizzaners in just three years, writing, ”We have to promote inbreeding of the best bloodlines.” (Rau clearly did not understand the link between genetic defects and inbreeding.)

To aid Rau’s mission, German soldiers began stealing purebred Lipizzaner stallions from famed stud farms and riding schools across Europe. ”It was a quirk of Nazi philosophy, so inhumane to humans, that animals were treated with the utmost care and kindness”, Letts writes. By 1942, Rau was in possession of nearly every purebred Lipizzaner in the world.

But the nazis also wanted to improve the thoroughbred population in Germany. In 1940 when France was conquered, the Nazis imported or rather stole 600 quality mares and some leading stallions. Among them were Pharis II and Brantome.

Stolen Stallions

Pharis II was bred in 1936. He was by Pharos and was owned by the mighty owner Marcel Boussac.

Pharis didn’r run as a juvenile. He ran only three times in his life. He was unbeaten as a three year old. What would have been his fall campaign was interrupted by the war. The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe was cancelled due to the war.

Among his victories were Prix du Jockey Club and Grand Prix de Paris. Pharis was retired as four year old and became a successful, versatile stallion. He got four winners of the Prix du Jockey Club and also a winner of Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He was leading sire in 1944, 1950, 1951 and 1952 in France.

There would not be any Super Horse or ’Super Pferd’ in Germany, but Pharis left one champion filly there, Asterblüte, who won the German Derby, 1000 Guineas and Oaks in 1946. She is mother in the fifth geheration to Urban Sea, winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Brantome (by Blandford) was older than Pharis, bred in 1931. He was unbeaten as a two- and three year, owned by baron Edouard Rothschild.

Among his victories were French 2000 Guineas, St Leger and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. One of his best sons was Vieux Manoir.

Both Paris II and Brantome were like many of the mares repatriated to France in 1945.

More dramatically was the rescue of 375 Lipizzaner horses. They were taken on May 12th 1945 from a stud in Czechoslovakia, which was occupied by Nazi Germany, to the south of Bavaria through a strange cooperation by the German Stud manager and the Americans. Both parties had the same wish to save the horses from the Russians. They knew that the Russian soldiers would shoot and eat the horses. The American effort was made possible by the aid from the famous general Patton who was very fond of horses.

*EMHF is short for the European and Mediterranean Horserecing Federation

This article was written with the help of Simon Cooper, from BHA, the magazine The Trainer, the author Elizabeth Letts, and Google.

Pharis II

Pharis II, champion racehorse and sire, illegally brought to Germany 1940-45

Lipizzaner

A visit to the famous Lipizzaner stud Lipica in Slovenia. Photo: Toni Sturm

The Scandinavian Derbies

Traditionally the Norwegian is the last of the Scandinavian derbies. It was this year run Sunday August 26th at Övrevoll in Oslo and ended up with an impressive and very easy win for French bred Square de Luynes (by Manduro-Power Girl by Dashing Blade).

It was the geldings only fifth start and second victory. He was one of the favourites (mine actually) for the Swedish Derby but didn’t probably like the dirt track at Jägersro, Malmö and was just sixth.

The Swedish Derby, run 15th of July was won Nordic Defense (FR) (by Makfi-Angel Falls by Kingmambo) and he was second in the Norwegian Derby.

Both these horses are trained by the champion trainer Niels Petersen, who has his stables at Övrevoll but is Dane by birth.

Second in the Swedish Derby was Barade (by Havana Gold-Statia by Anabaa), not only bred in France but also trained there (by Nicolas Clement), but with a Swedish owner.

In Oslo Barade had to be content with a fourth place, behind Danish trained Learn By Heart (by Frankel-Memory by Danehill Dancer) and bred in England by The Queen.

In between The Danish Derby was staged at Klampenborg in Copenhagen. It is restricted to Scandinavian bred horses and had another outcome. It was easily won by Swedish bred Master Bloom (by Pastorius-Milibloom by Miesque’s Son) before the Danish favourite King David (by Elusive City-Jeunesse Lulu by Montjeu).

Two Group 3 races was in therace card at the Derby Day in Norway. Marit Seaas Minnelöp (1800 m) saw the 2016 Norwegian Derby winner Our Last Summer (IRE) by Zamindar-Hoh My Darling by Dansili lead the race from start to post. Narrowly beaten was  Fearless Hunter (GER))  and British raider Big Country (IRE).

Like Square de Luynes Our Last Summer is trained by Niels Petersen and the jockey was the same, Rafael Schistl, who was born in Brazil.

The other Group race, Altai Polar Cup, saw the English guest Hakam (USA) by War Front-Lauren Bird by Arch as a very unexpexted winner, in front of Viscount Barfield (by Raven’s Pass) and Seaside Song (by Harbour Watch).

Of the Scandinavian Derbies the Danish is the oldest, first run in 1910. The Swedish Derby dates from 1918 och the Norwegian from 1930.

But already in the 1870’ies and 1880’ies a Scandinavian Derby took place in Copenhagen. It was several times won by German horses.

Square de Luynes

Square de Luynes (by Manduro-Power Girl by Dashing Blade).

Photo Nils Rosenkjaer

Another success in the Royal Park

For the sixth time in a row there was racing in the Royal Park in the middle of Stockholm on Swedish National Day, June 6th. Again it was a tremendous success.

As entrance is free and people are walking in and out the area the whole time it is difficult to to count the audience. But it is estimated to be 50 000 to 60 000.

Although there are a lot of well known artists performing, many exhibitions taking place, and hat parades with prizes, it is obvious that it is the horse races that is the most popular occasion.

There were four thoroughbred races, two races with arab horses with big purses thanks to the scheik of Abu Dhabi, and two pony races.

The female riders were successful and won four of the races and both the pony races was won by girls.

The National Day racing is now established as a big event, which was confirmed as one of the biggest TV channels in Sweden broadcasted three hours from The Royal Park.

An audience of around 50 000-60 000 people followed the National Day races in Stockholm (photo Elina Björklund)

Gärdet 2018

Greetings from Sweden

For the first time since 1963 there are no winter races in Stockholm. The dirt track course at Bro Park has to be restored after just one year’s use. Sad story but we hope for a much better surface in 2018.

In the meantime we will express our thanks for holiday greetings from abroad and wish friends in the racing world a Happy New Year.

Yours truly

Björn Eklund

The picture shows the headquarters of Equo Blooodstock, close to the lake Mälaren

Sjöviken vinter

 

 

A Grey Day in Sweden

This year’s last Classic, the Swedish St Leger, was won by the Swedish bred Muteki (by the little used Japanese stallion Devil’s Drink.)  The winning jockey Madeleine Smith is also trainer of the horse.

Narrowly beaten was the favorite, Norwegian trained Silver Falcon, winner of the Norwegian St Leger and second in the Norwegian Derby. He is by the Coolmore stallion Mastecraftsman, and as his father grey.

But Mastercraftsman also had a great winning day, where a lot of prestige races was run at Bro Park.

Mastercraftsman sired the winner of the listed Stockholm Fillies and Mares Stakes, Icecapada, grey like her father. He also sired the winner of the important 2-y-o race Vinterfavoriternas Pris, I And I, trained by Wido Neuroth and ridden by son Jan-Erik Neuroth. It was just I and I’s third race and he won easily. I And I is also grey and like Icecapada bred in Ireland.

Finally a high class handicap saw Crafty Exit as the winner. Father: Mastercraftsman. Colour: Grey. But bred in England.

Maybe a grey day but the colours were flying for Mastercraftsman.

Mastercraftsman

Mastercraftsman

Impressive Cup Filly

For the first time in its long history the Stockholm Cup International (G 3) was won by a 3-y-o filly, Dorcia (GB) (by Henrythenavigator-Spinola by Spinning World), bred by Qatar Bloodstock Ltd.

It was Dorcia’s ninth run and her fourth victory. She sprang a big surprise when she won the hundred Swedish Derby in July. The odds was 54,20. But in her next race, Swedish Oaks, she was more popular among the bettors. She won at 1,40.

In the Stockholm Cup she was an outsider and started at 6,48.  More trusted were her stable mate Hurricane Red (Hurricane Run-Bounce), Derby winner in 2013, and Hurricane Red’s sister, Icecapada (Mastercraftsman-Bounce). But they were properly beaten. The only competitor who could follow here were another Derby winner, Bokan (Soldier of Fortune-Paree), who was victorious in 2015.

Dorcia secured the prize money of 800 000 sek (about 80 000 euros) for the owner Stall QC.

Trainer Lennart Reuterskiöld Jr won the race for the first time, but for jockey P A Gråberg it was the fifth time. Gråberg won also the listed Taittinger Bro Park Spring Championship with Norwegian trained Tinnitus (Clodovil-Star Now).

The handicapper was so impressed by Dorcia’s effort that her rating was raised from 97 to 110. Maybe exaggerated to call her a ”Swedish Enable” but good enough.

Dorcia 2071-S

Dorcia wins the Swedish Derby at a wet Jägersro, ridden by Carlos Lopez.

Dorcia

And the Stockholm Cup with jockey P A Gråberg, groom Malin Janninge and trainer Lennart Reuterskiöld Jr

Chock win in Swedish Derby

The first Swedish Derby was run in 1918, so we have just seen the hundred Derby. The record first prize of almost 150 000 Euros went to the filly Dorcia, who paid 55-1. On a rainy day she defeated the favourites Stricker (by Poet’s Voce) and Gold Tyranny (by Zoffany) with an impressive finish..

Dorcia (by Henrythenavigator-Spinola by Spinning World) was bred by Qatar Bloodstock Ltd in England and bought by owner Roland Johansson and trainer Lennart Reuterskiöld Junior at Arquana in France as a yearling for 40 000 Euros.

The Derby was her seventh start. She has only twice ended worse than second in her races. Her trainer started three other stablemates in the race, among them 3rd Gold Tyranny.

It was the seventh time a filly won the race. Last time was in 2001 when the Caerleon daughter Final Care secured the win for Norway. This time the best Norwegian trained horse was fifth (Bolt by Poet’s Voice).

The winning jockey was Chilean bred Carlos Lopez, who also won the Derby last year with Duke of Burden. A son of Footstepsinthesand – trainer again Lennart Reuterskiöld Junior.

In spite of the rain more than 5 000 spectators showed up. The turnover was a good 1,3 million Euros.

Dorcia 2071-S

The Swedish Derby 2017 was won by the rank outsider Dorcia, ridden by Carlos Lopez.