Welcome to Sweden

It’s seven years since the European horseracing association, called European and Mediterranean Horseracing Federation (EMHF), was set up, just in Stockholm in the presence of the IFHA chairman Louis Romanet. Since then EMHF has gone both stronger and bigger.

Now there are 28 members with Greece as the latest one. 20 of them will be represented in Stockholm (or rather in Upplands Bro). Some of the absent  members have other things on therir minds, like Lebanon, Libya and Ukraine. The meeting will take place at Villa Aske, not far from Bro Park.

Besides the meeting the delegates will visit Solvalla and Elitloppet on Sunday and the Classic races (the racecard will contain  both 2000 Guineas and 1000 Guineas) at Bro Park Monday evening.

The meeting seems to be well prepared by EMHF secretary general Paull Khan. There are 16 items on the agenda, from many reports from the horse racing world to elections to the ExCo (Executive Council). As always with Brian Kavanagh from Ireland in the chairman’s seat.

EMHF 2016

Some of the earlier board members of EMHF. Hopefully the new board will be less male dominated

Welcome Greece

The Secretary General of EMHF (European and Mediterranean Horseracing Federation), Mr Paull Khan, has visited Greece and the racecourse in Athens. He was invited by the Greek Jockey Club which wants to be a member of EMHF.

Paull Khan’s report is very positive. He thinks that Greek racing is on its way to recover after some very dark years, not only caused by the economic difficulties. So he advises the members of EMHF to welcome Greece as a new member.

And the members have said to the Greek application, which is good news.

I have been following Greek racing for many years. As Paull says in his report Greece attended the inaugeral meeting of EMHF’s predecessor, ERDC (European Racing Development Conference (not Committee as the report says). It was represented by Mrs Aspassia Rassi, who is still involved in Greek racing, now as vice president of the Jockey Club.

The first ERDC meeting took place 2000 in Stockholm. Just a month earlier Greece was host for an EMSBLIC meeting (the stud book organisation), that took place in Olympia. It was the first European Stud Book meeting that was arranged outside France. It was very well organised and attended.

Before the EMSBLIC meeting we were able to watch horse racing at the old race course, just 1300 metres long with tight bends. I sincerely hope that the new one is better. At least the former Swedish jockey champion Fredrik Johansson said so. He rode some winners about ten years ago at the Greek racecourse and he should know.

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A man’s world?

Thoroughbred racing is still in many ways a man’s world. Even though women like Julie Krone, Criquette Head, Haley Turner, Chantal Sutherland and others may now and then have changed the perspectives for a while.

But although men and women should compete on equal terms, the sport is dominated by the male sex.

That’s on the outside – what the audience will see. How is it on the inside – in the administration of the sport? Well, I would say it’s even worse.

Let’s take racing’s world congress, the IFHA meeting, as an example. As always it’s arranged in Paris the day after the Arc.

This year it was attended by 86 delegates. Of these 78 were men and 8 women. There were also some observers from countries which yet are not members and also from other organisations. If we include them there were 115 persons listening to the chairman and the other board members. 10 of them were women, less than 10 per cent.

And how about the board of IFHA. There are 15 voting members? How many women? Guess … zero.

Is this a problem? Yes, in my view. In my experience (quite long nowadays) men who form groups together tend to be quite conservative, while women are more open minded. Of course this is a simplification and generalization but not far from the truth, I would say.

Well, I worked for a long time within racing. How about my own conscience? It could be better of course but as Secretary General I tried to stimulate education. And as women often are more interested in education than men this and other steps have resulted in that about 60 per cent of the trainers and jockeys in Sweden are female.

My right – and sometimes even left – hand within the Swedish Jockey Club was a woman and she still has a strong role there.

Another little example: In the informal organisation European Racing Development Conference (ERDC) we were just three board members but one of them was a woman.

ERDC’s successor the European and Mediterranean Horseracing Federation (EMHF) have unfortunately gone back to the old pattern. Not a woman in the Board.

Maybe time to discuss this issue. Or it is so much less important than to discuss doping, interference, betting and other serious things?

Picture: Nice men but still just men (representing EMHF in 2013).  (Even the photographer is a man – myself)

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The Bishop who loves horseracing

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This blog doesn’t often start with a picture of a bishop (or rather Bishop Emerita), but the other day I attended a funeral of an old  friend. First when the priest started speaking I recognized the voice of Christina Odenberg (on the picture).

I have heard the voice many times when it’s time to say goodbye to someone in the racing fraternity, but this was one of my friends outside racing, so I was a little surprised, but it gave me time to talk racing at the memorial gathering afterwards with the ex bishop, as many times before.

When Christina Odenberg became bishop in Lund in the south of Sweden, she was one of the first female bishops in  Sweden. I am convinced that she is the only bishop in the world that has been a keen amateur rider. She was the leading female rider in Sweden both in 1956 and 1957 (with 3 and 4 wins) and after some absence from racing again best female rider in 1979 (4 wins).

She has also been permit holder as trainer and a lot of horses have raced in her silks, blue with a red sash and white cap. In 2016 both her horses, Momo Barone and Negroamare, have been succesful at the racecourse.

So, bishop, amateur jockey, trainer and owner. But that is not enough. Se has also been board member at Täby Galopp and was chairman of the Old Swedish Jockey Club between 2009 and 2016.

Indeed a remarkable woman and an Icon for Swedish horseracing.

 

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Christina Odenberg (3rd from left) and trainer Francisco Castro (2nd fr left) and Momo Barone after a victory at Jägersro.

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As chairman of the Jockey Club Christina Odenberg supervices the ceremony when King Charles XII recieves the club’s jubilee book from the author.

 

Watching two Derbies in two days

Slovakian Derby 2016It was a kind of strange feeling sitting at the big square Saturday evening in Bratislava’s Old Town, sipping a glass of white wine and watching the Swedish Derby on the Ipad (it was a  triple for Swedish trained horses – all by the Reuterskiöld brothers). And in the backgrund you could hear a big youth orchestra playing beautiful tunes. That it was about 20 soft degrees didn’t diminish the impression.

The Swedish Derby is sadly nowadays (well since 1980) run on the dirt track but in Bratislava it was the real thing next day. The Slovakian Derby is as it should be run on the turf. It was an easy win for the favorite Timekeeper, trained in the Czech Republik by Josef Vana and ridden by Vaclav Janacek. (See picture above – by Karel Nemec)

The Irish bred winner’s pedigree is in good order – by Galileo-Looking Back by Stravinski.

The win was worth 32 000 euros.

The racecourse in Bratislava is charming situated in a park landscape. The circuit is about 1600 metres.

The  arrangements were very good as were the arrangements next day at the meeting in the Executive Council of the EMHF (European and Mediterranean Horseracing Federation).

A blogger shouldn’t be too positive but mind you I can’t fault much at the meeting, well chaired by Irish racing boss Brian Kavanagh and well prepared by secretary general Paull Khan.

Well there is something worth critizising. The board of the EMHF – as it is in most horseracing boards lack representation of women (se picture below). We must be much better encouraging the better sex to step forward. It’s the same in IFHA (the International Federation of Horseracing Authorites) and in several other organisations.

A consolation is that in Slovakia’s neighbour the Czech Republic the administrative chief is a woman, Martina Krejci.

 

EMHF 2016

EMHF Board: from left Sadettin Atig, Turkey, Behcet Homorlu, Turkey (board member) Henry Birtles (guest speaker), Henri Poiret, France (board member), Brian Kavanagh (chairman), Marian Surda, Slovakia (board member), Rüdiger Schmanns, Germany (board member), Omar Skalli, Morocco (board member), Paull Khan (secretary general), Björn Eklund (honorary life president). Photo: Peter Lukac.

 

The New Racing Arena has opened

After 46 years of horse racing at Täby Galopp the racecourse closed down at May 18th. A month later the new venue, Bro Park, opened. About 7 000-8 000 people attended the big occurrence, which was a huge success.

Everything or almost everything went according to plan, even the weather. Both the turf and dirt track were used and worked well, even if the dirt was a little unresilient.

The big races went to Norwegian horses as always. But they were not trained by Niels Petersen or Wido Neuroth, as is the ”tradition”. This time Cathrine Erichsen made the double of Gr 3 Stockholms Stora Pris with the outsider Coprah (by Bertolini) and Easy Road (by Compton Place) in the listed Vår Sprint.

But the listed Bloomers Vase (for mares) stayed in Sweden. The winner was Ray (by Rock Of Gibraltar), owned and bred by Chess Racing, alias Benny Andersson (”of Abba fame”, as he usually is called in the Racing Post).

The tournament for female jockeys, riding in four races, was won by the Swedish team. But two of the divisions stayed in the hands of the guests, through Chantal Sutherland from USA and Ana O’Brien from Ireland

Classic winners were Danish trained Beaufort Twelve (by Academy Award) in 2000 Guineas and Pocahontas Face (by Layman) in 1000 Guineas, trained by the veteran Hans Adielsson, who was the big champion trainer in the 80’ies. Now he is back in Swedish training after ”excursions” to trotting and English racing.

A new era has successfully started for Swedish racing.

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Chantal Sutherland Kruse has won one of the tournament races at Bro Park on the back of Dreams Cape (by Observatory)

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The new grandstand (or rather small stand) at Bro Park on Rehearsal Day 1st of June. Much better adapted to new times than the old concrete building at Täby Galopp.

Culmination of a hectic spring

Last time – quite a while ago – this blog reported of a lot of racing events this spring in Sweden. When we now almost have reached the climax I’m happy to say that so far it has been a lot of success.

It started May 18th with the Tribute Day which was the name of the grand finale at Täby Galopp. Racing started at lunch time and ended late in the evening. It was an ordinary Wednesday which didn’t stop almost 4 000 people to show up. Among them were a lot of old faces from bygone days. Naturally there were big interest for memorabilia, such as old race cards, racing photos etc.

1st of June – another Wednesday – it was time for the first race day at the new venue, Bro Park. It was a low key event, used as a rehearsal, with a minimum of marketing. But it went all right and made it easier to prepare for the big opening at June 19th.

It was much better than 56 years ago when Täby Galopp started its operation. Before the inaugaration at 27th of August 1960  a meeting was fixed five days before as a rehearsal. But it had to be cancelled as the racecourse was unsuitable due to heavy rain.

This time it was a fine day with many positive commentaries. Quite another venue than Täby Galopp with its big concrete grandstand. Now it’s a much slimmer grandstand and a greener environment. All can see for themselves on Sunday.

Tha’s not all.  For the fourth year in a row there was racing in the Royal Park on June 6th, the Swedish National Day. And another success and a bigger attendance than before. Earlier talks of 50 000 people have to me seen to be a little exaggerated but not this time.

As before it was the races that caught the big attention, much more than hat competions, pop artists and different celebrities. And the big arab horse races didn’t go to Dutch horses this time but stayed in Sweden.

Last Saturday it was the traditional National Hunt races at Strömsholm, two hours from Stockholm. It way a nice picnic for more than 4 000 people, the best turnout for many years.

As usually the Swedish Grand National went to a German horse, Kazzio (by Königstiger), ridden by Cevin Chan and trained by Pavel Vovcenco. Second was the Czech horse Al Bustan (bred in Ireland).

Finally there is the big opening of Bro Park this Sunday. On the card is the Gr 3 Stockholms Stora Pris, the listed Zawawi Bro Park Vårsprint, the listed Taittinger Bloomers Vase (for mares) and the classic races  Jockeyklubbens 2000 Guineas and Happy Tamsvik Dianalöpning (1000 Guineas).

To that you can add a tournament with ten female jockeys. They are Chantal Sutherland Kruse from USA, Danielle Johnson from New Zealand, Ana O’Brien from Ireland (daughter of Aidan), Maija Vance from New Zealand and Australia and Josephine Gordon from U K. Coach is Dame Hayley Turner. They meet five Swedish female jockey.

The only thing that doesn’t look so great for the moment is the weather. But it looked the same before the National Day and that changed a lot to the better

Of course that’s not the end of the season. There are things like the Swedish Derby at Jägersro July 16th.

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The National Day Racing in Stockholm June 6th

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Rehearsal at Bro Park June 1st (with the blogger in the background)

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Täby Galopp

After 56 years of service and almost 3 000 race meetings Täby Galopp will close next Wednesday, May 18th. And it will be done in great style.

There will 14 races, starting soon after noon and finishing late in the evening. 149 runners are declared and there is a great interest from the whole of Scandinavia.

The final day is called the Tribute Day because there will not only be racing but second hand selling of books, prints and other racing memorabilia. And meeting with old stars. In a special veteran race we will se old jockeys like champions Kim Andersen and Yvonne Durant.

After that the building machines will take over and in a few years 6 000 flats will cover the old race course.

But that’s not the end of the story. June 19th will be the date for the great opening of the new racecourse Bro Park. On the programme there is the Group 3 Stockholms Stora Pris and a female jockey tournament, where Hayley Turner will coach the international team, which wll consist of Cathy Gannon, Sammy Jo Bell, Chantal Sutherland, and Danielle Johnsson.

But before that it’s time for the fourth running of the National Day meeting in the Royal Park of Stockholm. That’s the venue where the first races in Stockholm took part – in 1831.

And June 11 there’s the contrast to racing in the middle of Stockholm – Grand National Day at rural Strömsholm.

All racing enthusiasts need a good stamina the coming weeks.

Finally some historic shots from Täby Galopp.

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Before opening in August 1960. The road was just opened as a motor way.

Below In the old days (1963-1989) there was races at the straw in winter time. 

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Listed Third for Moroccan horse in Sweden

For the first time the Scandinavian audience could watch a horse with the suffix (MOR) after its name. It was 4-yo Famous Mark who participated in the Listed race Pramms Memorial, run on the dirt track Tuesday evening.

It was a good race in which not only the Scandinavian top milers competed of a first prize of almost 75 000 euros (700 000 Sw Cr)) over the distance of 1730 meters, but also guests from Ireland (the All Weather Championship winner Captain Joy) and Germany (Group 3 winner Nordic0).

None of them won the first prize and as often neither one of the Norwegian runners. After a determined finish the home trained Hurricane Red (Hurricane Run-Bounce) came out on top over last year’s  winner, Silver Ocean from Norway.

But third – and best of the foreign runners was Famous Mark from Morocco. Even he is trained by Pascal Bary in France most of his startahave been made in Morocco where he has won eight of nine runs.  Famous Mark was ridden by the Moroccan jockey Abderrahim Faddoul.

Hurricane Red – Swedis Derby winner in 2013 – is trained by Lennart Reuterskiöld Junior, who had a  real field day. He saddled fice of the altogether eleven races of the evening. His runners were rewarded with prize money of about 120 000 euros (1 107 000 Sw Cr).

Below: The finish of Pramms Memorial, to the left Hurricane Red (jockey Jacob Johansen) outside of Silver Ocean and on the rail Famous Mark.

Pramms 2016

Swedish Promotion

May I make some PR? Of course, I may. It’s my own blog…

And it’s not for my own sake.

But I think that the promotion efforts the Swedish publisher Mats Genberg makes for horse racing in general and specifically for Scandinavian racing is worth mentioning.

He is the publisher of the quarterly ”Gallop Magazine” which calls itself ”The worlds only feel-good horse racing magazine”. No shyness there.

The latest edition (Spring 2016) has just reached its subscribers. Among the articles are a presentation of the new Longchamp which will open next year, a feature of the Australian bush track Birdsville (written by ex National Hunt champion Richard Dunwoody) and an interview with the Swedish champion jockey Per-Anders Gråberg (who can be seen on the cover photo below).

The most strange thing about Mats Genberg (and I don’t think of his pony-tail hair style) is that he prefers so called Pure bred horses before English thoroughbreds. On the other hand he was one of the first to send a mare to my stallion Fraam (who is in 6th place on the Swedish stallion list just now – which has nothing to do with this blog article).

The subscription cost for the yearly four editions is 25 euros.

You can mail your order to subscribe@gallop-magazine.com. You can also use the webshop at http://www.gallop-magazine.com.

Gallop Magazine 001