June 17, 2012, Stockholm, NR ~ In a sport as professionally orientated as racing, it’s good to see, that amateurs still have a significant role to play.
Gothenburg Racecourse on the west coast of Sweden is a fine example. When the harnessed racers usurped the nearby Åby in 1975, the local amateur trainers and a handful of enthusiasts started scheming on a replacement. Begging and borrowing, they had succeeded 25 years later in building what’s essentially a bushtrack with tents for stands, but which boasts a galloping grasstrack with a 4 furlong straight and is widely considered the fairest in Scandinavia.
Stromsholm Racecourse is also run by amateurs. Contrary to Gothenburg, it’s a tight course with plenty of bends in and out of small woods. The one-day meeting is the traditional picnic day for racing people and is also the host of the Swedish Grand National steeplechase and the Champion Hurdle for English Thoroughbreds.
Photo: 6-y-o grey entire El Weiron (Neiron X Eldorana /Eldorado) Bred by Per-Olof Scherling, Sweden
Strömsholm is also the home of the Grand Prix for Purebred Arabians.Group races notwithstanding, it may be the most prestigious race to win for a Swedish trainer of Arabian horses. In recent years, Hespeshal has won this race run over 2100 meters on three occassions for his owner/breeder/trainer and finished second in his two other attempts, making it clear that there are indeed Horses for Courses. He was absent in this years edition run under the auspices of the Scandinavian Arabian Racing Association, but the victor two years ago Milord (by Alt) was in the field of twelve as were other seasoned campaigners like out-and-out stayers Bomberbad (Eldorado) and El Quattro (Elcatero), the enigmatic W Helge (Dorwan du Cayrou), horse-of-the-year Joshua Brown (Samsheik), the normally short running Al Raai (Riyal) and the newly repatriated El Weiron (Neiron).
Bred in Sweden, El Wieron, the 6-y-o grandson of Dormane, had spent his entire racing carrier in Poland, where he had won six times.
He returned in time for the Wathba Stud Farm Cup (Gr3) at Jägersro in Malmo. Running on dirt and getting kick-back in his face for the first time in his life, he finished 10 lengths beaten by Dutch raider Gazel (Prince d’Orient) and Pentagon (Marwan).
Back on grass he was made favourite to win the Grand Prix in spite of his lack of experience of the unique course and for good reason as it turned out. Immediately after the start El Weiron sat just off the pace set by stablecompanions Al Raai and W Helge, El Quattro at their heels. The latter was the first to send distress signals, shortly followed by Al Raai and coming out of the last bend and into the short straight, El Weiron soon had the measure of W Helge, but had to fight off a fast late challenge from Joshua Brown. W Helge finished third a length behind the pair with Al Raai another two lengths away.
Owned by a consortium, El Weiron is trained by ms. Borger and was ridden by amateur Jennie Osterberg.
Traditionally the race was always the SAHF Grand Prix run at Stromsholm on the grounds of Strömsholm Castle just south of Stockholm.
SAHF was the main body of all things Arabian and maybe still is. It’s still under debate as it is crumbling and sorely lacking these last few years. Thus SARA (Scandinavian Arabian Racing Association) was forced to take over this very traditional race this year. The racing section is trying to get underneath another umbrella for efficiancy.
The SARA Grand Prix was run on Sunday the 17th of June and was the second leg of the nationwide V4 (Pick Four) as well as the 1’st leg of the Daily Double. It carried a purse just short of 4200 euro of which 50% to the winner.
The Grand National itself got permission from Ms Mirabelle Topham of the Aintree Grand National at Liverpool to carry the Grand National name. She furthermore donated the magnificent Topham Trophy, which is raced for each year.
The course itself is kept by unpaid volunteers (as was Gothenburg before SG (Swedish Racing Association) took over the course last year), who come out in force during the weeks up to the race to pack the obstacles, make ready the travelling boxes for the horses and all the other stuff needed for a day at the races.
Contributed by Nils Rosenkajaer