Czech Invasion in Sweden

Well, invasion is a little bit of an exaggeration but horses from the Czech Republic were very succesful at the Grand National meeting at rural Strömsholm, about ten miles north of Stockholm.

There were just six contenders in the Swedish Grand National, but all with a chance. Three from the Czech Republic, two from Sweden and one from Norway. None from Germany which produced the winner last year.

The victory went to the favourite Al Bustan (by Medecis), bred in Ireland but trained in the Czech Republic by Stanislav Popelka and ridden by Josef Bartos. Lady Dylan from Norway was second and Marcus Aurelius, also from the Czech Republic third.

The winning owner, Lokotrans, recieved almost 15 000 euros.

There was Swedish consolation in the Swedish Champion Hurdle, as the 12 y o Swedish bred Calvados (By Trepolino) was the strongest at the run in. He is trained locally by Dennis Persson and had Niklas Lovén as pilot. Niklas has been National Hunt champion jockey many times.

Even the runner up was Swedish trained. That was Lindenthaler (by Azamour). Third place went to German guest Rosenköning.

The first prize was worth almost 11 000 euros.

As alwas there was sunshine (and som rain), picnics, and a beautiful greenery.

Al Bustan 8075-S

Al Bustan (IRE) and Josef Bartos after Swedish Grand National win

Calvados 7354-S

Calvados (SWE) after Swedish Champion Hurdle with trainer Dennis Persson, jockey Niklas Lovén and groom Johanna Hedström

What happened in Sweden last time?

Don’t ask a foreign president (you know he who twittered about something in Sweden he didn’t know of – often). Ask me.

I was there att the General Assembly Meeting of EMHF (European and Mediterranean Horseracing Federation). It took place in a nice rural environment, not far from the new racing venue Bro Park.

There was a record attendance. 20 member countries were represented. Among them was the new member Greece which made an interesting presentation of what seems to be a promising renewal of horse racing in the country.

The situation of the members that were missing at the meeting was thoroughly discussed. But in countries as Ukraine, Libya and Lebanon there are other ossues on the agenda. And in Austria thoroughbred racing is almost extinct. Which is a great pity.

Two new board members were elected. Both were women, but hopefully will make some impression in the very male dominated racing world. The new members are Martina  Krejci from the Czech Republic and Helena Gärtner from Sweden.

At the meeting Bo Helander presented the European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders Association, with which EMHF has started to cooperate. There was also a presentation from Yves Bonnaire of the work of the European Horserace Scientific Liaison Committee.

The meeting was as always chaired by Brian Kavanagh from Horseracing Ireland, well assisted by the Secretary General Paull Khan.

In the evening the delegates visited the 1000 and 2000 meeting at Bro Park. Some of them assisted in the prize ceremonies as you can see below.

1 Jakub Kasprzak from Polen (to the right) congratulates  5 y o Antigua (By Archipenko)

2 Paull Khan hands over prizes to the Danish 3 y o Sir Herman (by Zoffany)

Antigua 1863-X3

Sir Herman 1827-X3

We also bring you a picture from the National Day racing at the Royal Park in the center of Stockholm at June 6th. 55 000 thousand people had picknicks, listened to music and above all followed six horse races (and two pony races) with great intense.

NatGalopp 6520-S

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.


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)



The Bishop who loves horseracing


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.


Chr Odenberg

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

Odenberg, eklund, Bernadotte

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.