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Maori Time may have been handed another visitor's draw but spirits are high in the camp as her European adventure reignites with a second Swedish hit-out on Sunday morning. Fred Crews' Victorian-bred mare, who is in the care of trainer Stig H. Johansson, will have her first hit-out since the luckless Elitloppet campaign, when she galloped off the gate in her heat after extensive delays and a restart. She will launch from gate eight on Sunday at 1.05am (AEST) for driver Erik Adelsson and trainer Johansson, with fancied Cyber Lane - winner of 18 of 22 starts and almost $AU1.2 million in stakes drawn in gate two and a likely favourite for the 2140m trot. Johansson said "I'm pleased with how she feels," according to a translation of his comments to local press. "She feels good and I'm happy with her work. It is clearly tough. I will be happy if she does a good performance." The race is worth $400,000 SEK ($AU61,000) and is an important next step for Maori Time, who is sponsored by Aldebaran Park and races for charity Women's Cancer Foundation. "She has a poor barrier but she is fit and ready to go according to her groom, Cecilia," Mr Crews said.   Michael Howard

The Elitlopp is over for this year and we send our biggest gratulations to Ringostarr Treb and his harness racing team! We summarize this past weekend with great weather, great horses, thrilling harness races and new friends from all over the world. The Elitlopp 2019 and World Driving Championship We have already started planning for the Elitlopp tour 2019. The tour will be held May 23-27 and the itinerary for the tour will be similiar to the one this year.  Furthermore, the World Driving Championship 2019 will be held in Sweden.  During a weeks’ time, some of the best drivers in the world will travel all around Sweden, competing at the different tracks. We will of course make a tour for all of you who wish to join. The date for the extended Elitlopp-tour with the World Driving Championship is May 23 – June 2. More information is expected to be released during october/november.  Join us for a weekend in Paris and kickstart the year with the worlds largest harnecc race: Prix d'Amérique. We arrange tours including hotels, transfers, a visit at Grosbois and of course many different extra activities, to experience the french kitchen, Mouiln Rouge and much more. Equi Tours | Stjärnplan 3, 216 18 Limhamn, SWEDEN | www.equitours.se info@equitours.se | Tel: +46 (0)40 29 88 08 | Mobil: +46 (0)708 540 200

RINGOSTAR TREB WINS ELITLOPPET FINAL; BOLD EAGLE MAKES BREAK IN FIRST HEAT

The Swedish media has quite openly admitted it knows very little about the form and ability of Australian mare Maori Time in the lead up to Sunday’s Elitloppet.  The Brent Lilley trained mare has attracted a lot of publicity and interest in Sweden but she has been given little chance of getting past the elimination stage by the local press. While the mare is being shunned by the locals, the common feeling amongst the Maori Time crew headed up by Lilley is contentment. “Since we have arrived I don’t think we could have asked for things to go better than they have,” Lilley said. “She has settled in perfectly at Stig’s (Johansson), she has eaten everything, her work has been great.  We won’t have an excuse in the world on Sunday.” Maori Time will have her last serious hit-out on Friday morning before she competes on Sunday. “Stig drove her earlier in the week for me and he was really impressed with her and the way she worked.  Watching her I was really happy with the way she got through it. “I’ve got the farrier coming this afternoon (Thursday).  She is trotting really well at the moment so we will just get him to put the front shoes back on and she can have a new set of aluminiums put on behind.” Maori Time has drawn barrier six in her heat on Sunday directly outside overall series favourite Bold Eagle.  The French trotting star won his heat impressively in 2017 before fading in the final to finish behind Timoko. After racing outside the leader in his heat last year the question has been raised in the Swedish media whether Bold Eagle’s driver Franck Nivard would be less aggressive in the heat this year in an attempt to save something for the final. If Nivard is not as aggressive as he was a year ago it could be a chance for Maori Time to use her speed to get into the race early. Owner Fred Crews understands his mare Maori Time is facing a huge task racing arguably the world’s best trotter in Bold Eagle. “I know Australia has had better trotters come to the Elitloppet in the past.  The last Australian horse to come was Sundons Gift and he was a better horse than Maori Time but what my mare does have is gate speed and she can put herself into the race,” Crews said. “It isn’t ideal that we have drawn directly outside Bold Eagle but it is an honour to be representing Australia, I know there are a lot of people back home who will be staying up late on a Sunday night watching Sky to cheer her on and I’ve had great support from gentleman like Duncan McPherson from Aldebaran Park who have made this trip possible.” Sky Racing will cover Solvalla on Saturday and Sunday night with Anthony Manton broadcasting the races live from the track.  Maori Time will compete at 11:22pm (AEST) on Sunday night.   Greg Hayes

Maori Time has settled in very well according to harness racing connections and is ready to give her best in round one of the Elitloppet. Despite being the rank outsider of the series, Australian trotter Maori Time is definitely one of the most fascinating runners in Sunday’s Elitloppet series, whether you are a local or an Aussie. By racing on Sunday she becomes the first trotter from the Southern Hemisphere to race in the Northern Hemisphere since the great Sundons Gift finished sixth of seven finishers in the second heat of this series nine years ago. The series takes the same format as the first four renewals of the Great Southern Star, being two heats, at 11:22pm and 11:49pm AEST, and the Final two hours later. Owner Fred Crews arrived in Sweden on Sunday, just after the barrier draw where she unfortunately drew gate six of eight. But there are apparently no excuses when it comes to the horse’s wellbeing and how she has settled in. Fred spoke about how the whole thing came about. “After the performance at Menangle, I started to look around for what the future held for her as far as racing, and the opportunities for her over sprint distances are pretty limited, all the $20,000 Free For All’s that she runs in she is going to draw the second row or out wide and there’s a very limited number of Group 1 races where she can use her speed to advantage,” he said. “I for some reason came up with the idea of the Elitloppet and I spoke to Duncan McPherson and Michael Taranto and they put the wheels in motion. They and Andrew Kelly and HRA (Harness Racing Australia) sent the videos across to Sweden and put all the evidence before them to help them make the decision (about whether to send an invitation or not). “Brent (Lilley, trainer) and I then went away and did all our homework as far as the logistics of the trip and when the invitation finally came we had all our plans in place and we we’re ready to act, because when the invitation comes they need to know pretty quickly what you intend to do, particularly when you’re on the other side of the world.” Unfortunately just under a month ago the Maori Time camp suffered a scare when her first of two trials for her overseas campaign ended after 800m when she was pulled up in a trial at Bendigo on April 29. Thankfully she was able to recover quickly from the setback that could’ve been much worse. She then trialled at Maryborough seven days later and after leading was narrowly run down by The Sparrow Hawk, a stablemate, in fast time but obviously this was very promising after the setback she had seven days earlier. << Watch Bendigo Trial https://youtu.be/J13LLnaRvAg >> << Watch Maryborough Trial https://youtu.be/gPliWAMFI2Y >> “She suffered from atrial fibrillation where her heart went out of beat for 24 hours or so but that came good and everything has been 100 per cent since,” Crews said. “She has arrived here in Sweden in incredibly good condition. Other people that have travelled with horses have been surprised with how well she has taken the trip. Brent is saying you’d think she was still home in the stable she’s so relaxed and going so well. “That gives us a little bit of confidence because the first concern, naturally enough, is getting your horse here in a fit condition ready to race, we’ve got all that so that is not an excuse.” She is staying at Stig H. Johansson’s stables, a man that by next year will have been training for 50 years and is considered one of the greats of local trotting. He has won the Gran Premio della Lotteria (Italy’s equivalent of the Elitloppet) four times a Prix d'Amérique, the premier race of the world, and of cause multiple Elitloppet Finals and has had Group 1 winners, either trained or driven, in nine countries “Stig is the legend of Swedish trotting,” Crews said. “He has trained and driven six previous winners of the Elitloppet and he is probably like the elder statesman of trotting here in Sweden and he is very well respected. “He drove Maori Time in fast work on Monday morning (Swedish time) and he said she was a very good horse, so hopefully he is correct.” Most likely Maori Time will not return to Australia after Sunday and will instead have a European campaign, as long as she comes through this week well. “If everything falls into place Brent Lilley and I will have a meeting next Monday with Stig with a view to leaving the horse here in Sweden to race,” Crews said. “If something goes wrong then we’ll pack up and bring her straight home but if she performs well and he wants to train her, at this stage he has said he will train her but we want to wait until after the series. “Two weeks later there is a big race in Norway (Oslo Grand Prix which is Norway’s annual highlight) and there is also another one in Sweden and they could be possibilities.” The European Mares Championship at Solvalla on Tuesday August 14 over 2140m could also be a possible target. “I wouldn’t want her racing beyond 2140m (Swedish middle distance) and we’ll make that point known to Stig. “But a lot of things have got to fall into place first, I’m leaving all my options open and ideally that’s what I’d like to do but I can’t make a firm commitment. “Our first target is to perform well in her heat and if she performs up to what we think she can then we’ve got two or two and a half hours to think about the final. “We haven’t even though about the final yet.” Bizarrely in Europe when analysing the form you have to take into huge consideration what shoes a horse will where. For example Lionel, a top trotter at his best who will compete in the first heat, usually performs at his best when he is unshod with all four feet, but if not he once started at odds of 100/1! “There is a lot of interest about whether she is going to race with shoes, the last time the Great Southern Star was the two heats and the final, she raced without shoes in the final when Yannick Gingras (US driver who drove her) suggested we pull them off, so that’s a definite possibility, if we got into the final,” Crews said. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves but I suppose you have got to have something in mind.” One of the definite positives leading into the series is that in that 2016 Great Southern Star she performed very well in the both the heat and final (second and fourth), so if she was able to make the final she would have no excuses when it comes to backing up, which of cause after running 1:50.1 in the first heat 12 months ago, series favourite and champion Bold Eagle couldn’t do in the final two hours later. Speaking about Bold Eagle, Fred said: “He tried to blow them away in the heat and the final, but he is obviously the best horse in Europe.” “You’ve got to have a horse 100 per cent on the day, if a horse is only 99 per cent then things can go wrong. We certainly don’t underestimate him and we know he is the one to beat, we didn’t want to be in the heat with him, we would’ve preferred to be with any other lot of horses but it is what it is and if you come over here you’ve got to be prepared to take on the best and hopefully beat them. “I guess it depends on whether we decide to attack for the lead. Todd doesn’t arrive here until Friday so we haven’t had that discussion with him obviously but I think we’ll probably wait a bit longer and Brent will probably have a talk to Stig about tactics as he is the expert over here. I know Brent has been asking him a lot of questions and he greatly respects the man and trying to learn from him. I’m sure he’ll still be asking him questions on Sunday here at Solvalla, but we don’t need to make a decision now regarding tactics.” Maori Time overall has had nine different drivers throughout her career so it was always going to be interesting to see who got the nod to drive her and it was Sydney reinsmen Todd McCarthy, who we will chat to later in the week, who drove her in Sydney and is one from one aboard the mare, who picked the huge drive up. “He’s the driver who won in the quickest time; we just felt a young, keen, aggressive driver is probably what is needed to win in a series like this”. Following her 1:51.5 win in Sydney, Maori Time is the one of the top six fastest horses in the entire series and the third fastest horse in her heat behind Bold Eagle (1:50.1 in the first heat 12 months ago) and Takethem (1:51.3 in the same race when 5th!). “We don’t know how the times line up, the times at Menangle are on a 1400m track whereas the times here at Solvalla are on a 1000m track and it’s a softer track and it is a different banking and everything else. “From our point of the only way to compare the horses is race against them.” Keep following thetrots.com.au throughout the week as I’ll be bringing you all the action from the Elitloppet, including social media coverage of the Final night on Sunday night/early hours of Monday morning. Trots Media - Luke Humphreys

Taking on the harness racing world’s best trotters is a huge ask, now it just even bigger for brilliant Aussie mare Maori Time. Owner-breeder Fred Crews was sweating on a good barrier for the Elitlopp series in Stockholm, Sweden, which consists of two qualifying heats and the final on Sunday night, AEDT. Instead, the barrier draw has been cruel with Maori Time out wide in gate six and French megastar Bold Eagle, the prepost favourite for the final, drawn in gate five. LATEST BETTING: TAB FIXED ODDS Bold Eagle, who boasts 39 wins and eight seconds from 51 starts, is $1.45 with TAB to win the heat and $2.70 for the final. Maori Time is $17 in the heat and $41 for the final. Her heat is scheduled for 11.22pm, Sunday, and will be shown live on Sky Racing. The second heat is 11.49pm and the final is slated for 1.38am. Realistically, just making the final – which requires a top-four finish in the heat – would be a huge performance by Maori Time given champion Down Under trotters of the past — Lyell Creek and Sundons Gift — have failed to do so. Maori Time will fly the flag for Australia in the Elitlopp in Sweden this weekend.Source:Supplied “She’s quick out, but I’m told there’s plenty of speed drawn inside her,” driver Todd McCarthy said. “So much is going to hinge on where we can settle early.” Maori Time is only the seventh Australian or Kiwi trotter to be invited to the Elitlopp. The the best performer has been former champion Kiwi mare Pride Of Petite, who ran fourth in a heat and sixth in the 1996 final. The Brent Lilley-trained mare caught the eye of Elitlopp officials when she blazed an Australasian record 1min51.5sec mile winning the Group 1 Trotters’ Mile at Menangle on February 24. She led throughout in that race. The second heat boasts more depth with the US-bred star Propulsion (gate four) and Italian raider Ringostarr Treb (gate one) shaping up for a stirring clash. Propulsion is $1.70 with TAB and Ringostarr Treb at $2.10 for the heat, and they are second and third favourites at $2.90 and $3.80 respectively for the final behind Bold Eagle. Australia’s Anthony Manton will call the race for Sky Racing and Sky’s harness chief Greg Hayes will be trackside for the coverage. DOWNUNDER RAIDERS IN THE ELITLOPP 1977: Petite Evander (7th in heat) 1978: Petite Evander (6th in heat) 1996: Pride Of Petite (4th in heat – 6th in final) 1999: Special Force (7th in heat) 2001: Lyell Creek (5th in heat) 2007: Touch Of Flair (8th in heat) 2009: Sundons Gift (6th in heat) Reprinted with permission of The News.com.au site

Top Swedish trotter Readly Express, who won the Prix d’Amerique after a battle with Bold Eagle, will not race in the Elitlopp at Solvalla later this month. Readly Express trained Monday, but his trainer Timo Nurmis found that he will not be able to get the horse in shape to go two heats on the same day, and therefore he informed Solvalla that Readly Express is out of the race. Readly Express has not raced since his win in the Prix d’Amerique. In the meantime he has done some stud duties, but just until last week he was the favorite by all bookmakers who have odds on the Elitlopp. Then the rumors began that there was doubt about his participation in the Elitlopp. So far Solvalla has nine trotters ready for the Elitlopp; the field will be at 16, which is divided into two eliminations. Ready for the Elitlopp are: Uza Josselyn - Denmark Bold Eagle – France  Propulsion - USA Maori Time – New Zealand Ringostarr Treb - Italy Pastore Bob – Sweden  Nadal Broline – Sweden  Volstead - USA Dreammoko – France by Karsten Bønsdorf, USTA Newsroom Senior Correspondent

On May 9 Australasia’s fastest ever trotter Maori Time will leave Australia on her quest to win world trotting’s sprinting Holy Grail, Sweden’s Elitloppet. Let no-one be under any illusion of the challenge that Maori Time is confronted with for qualification alone for the Final in the same day heats/final affair would be a magnificent achievement. Maori Time, who is trained by Australian-based New Zealander Brent Lilley and will be driven by Todd McCarthy, is fresh off a stunning trial at Maryborough last Sunday when she was beaten a head in 1:55.9 by the pacer The Sparrow Hawk. Only six trotters from Australia and New Zealand have ever been invited to the Elitloppet – Petite Evander (NZ bred), Pride of Petite (NZ trained), Special Force (NZ bred & trained), Lyell Creek (NZ bred & trained), A Touch of Flair (Australian bred) and Sundons Gift (NZ bred & Australian trained) – with the American bred pocket rocket Pride of Petite, trained and driven by Mark Purdon, being the only one to qualify for the final finishing fourth in her heat and sixth in the Final. The quest for the Elitloppet by horses from the Southern Hemisphere commenced with Petite Evander way back in 1977 and the complete rundown of our challenges follows: PETITE EVANDER (NZ) – Trained by Eddie Dunnigan (USA) 1977: Seventh in heat 1978: Sixth in heat – WON Consolation (no longer run) PRIDE OF PETITE (US) – Trained by Mark Purdon (NZ born & based) 1996: Fourth in heat – Sixth in Final SPECIAL FORCE (NZ) – Trained by David McGowan (NZ born and based) 1999 – Seventh in heat LYELL CREEK (NZ) – Trained by Tim Butt (NZ born and based) 2001 – Fifth in heat A TOUCH OF FLAIR (AUS) – Trained by Noel Daley (USA based, Australia born) 2007 – Eighth in heat SUNDONS GIFT (NZ) – Trained by Chris Lang (Australian born & based) 2009 – Sixth in heat Another champion trotter with NZ roots that raced in the Elitloppet was Grades Singing (granddaughter of NZ FFA winner Le Chant) who won a heat of the 1987 Elitloppet and ran third in the final to Napoletano. Australia’s champion trotter Knight Pistol was never invited to the Elitloppet but stunned the Europeans in winning an European Grand Circuit event by defeating Norwegian champion Gentle Star in the Harley Davidson Trot at Stavanger, Norway in 1997. Breeder and owner Fred Crews is looking forward to “one of the most exciting weeks of our lives” and was even cheeky enough to suggest that “we are already planning our next trip with Maori Law (Maori Time’s half brother)”. Maori Time’s career will conclude this year, however, when and where is up in the air, according to Fred. He said, “No decision has been made beyond her run in the heat. There are a couple of races two weeks later that may suit her, but that decision will be made on Monday May 28. Who knows, if she wins the whole thing I might leave her there to defend her title.” Fred went on to say, “The Inter Dominion is not a real possibility as I believe the final will be over 2760m. If she does race again in Australia the Bill Collins Trotters Sprint could be her last run. In the meantime I have to study up on all the available stallions.” The Elitloppet consists of two eight horse heats with the first four progressing to the Final and thus far eight horses have been invited – Maori Time (Australia) 1:51.5, Europe’s first 1:50 trotter Bold Eagle (France) 1:50.0, 2017 Swedish Horse of the Year Readly Express (Sweden) 1:52.5, Uza Josselyn (France) 1:53.6, 2017 Elitloppet runner-up Propulsion (US bred-Sweden trained) 1:49.6, 2018 Olympiatravet winner Ringostarr Treb (Italy) 1:49.8 (placed), 2018 Lotteria winner Urlo dei Venti (Italy) 1:53.6 and 2018 Finlandia AJO winner Pastore Bob (Sweden) 1:53.8. What a time awaits Fred, Brent, Todd and Maori Time with Australian fans being glued to their televisions, tablets and mobile phones late on Sunday May 27 to cheer on their challenge for the Holy Grail. John Peck

May 7, 2018 - The 2018 Elitloppet harness racing lineup now includes Pastore Bob, Urlo dei Venti, Ringostarr Treb, Maori Time, Propulsion, Uza Josselyn, Bold Eagle and Readly Express On Saturday the V75 Gold at Orebro went to 4.7/1 Volstead (7m Cantab Hall-Madame Volo-Yankee Glide) with owner Stefan Melander up, and quick timed in 1.10kr over the 1609 meters autostart distance. Purse to the winner was 200,000SEK and this USA bred, by Arden Homestead and A.J. Skoglund, now has 21 wins in 62 career outings.  Volstead might get an Elite race invite. He defeated 3.9/1 Charrua Forlan (8g Up Front Larry) reined by Hans Owe Sundberg and 37/1 Deuxieme Picsous (11m In Love With You) handled by Bjorn Goop On the undercard was a Silver V75 victory by 2.8/1 Michelangelo As (7g Allstar Hall-Harmonic As-Mack Lobell) driven by Orjan Kihlstrom to a 1.12.6kr score worth 150,000SEK to the winner and raced over 2100 meters autostart. Aged mares battled in the Enoch Karlssons (purse to winner 125,000SEK) and the 1.11.7kr timed winner over 2100 meters autostart was 3.9/1 Anna Mix (8f Ludo du Castelle-Ires-Tenor de Baune) with Kim Eriksson up. Franck Leblanc owns the Sophia Aronsson trainee. In Toto Sund and Darling Mearas trailed Anna Mix. Thomas H. Hicks

Young gun Aussie driver Todd McCarthy has already started doing homework. McCarthy is still pinching himself after confirmation he will take the reins on flying Aussie mare Maori Time against the world’s best trotters in the iconic Elitlopp Trot in Stockholm, Sweden later this month. “It’s an amazing opportunity. I follow the big international races and I’ve always been in awe of how incredible the Elitlopp looks. Now I’m going to be part of it,” he said. “I took some time over the weekend to go back and loo at some replays of the heats and finals. I can’t wait to get there.” Owner Fred Crews and trainer Brent Lilley opted for McCarthy as the driver thanks to his one and only steer on Maori Time at Menangle. It resulted in a breathtaking front-running win in a record-smashing 1min51.5sec mile in the Group 1 Trotters’ Mile back on February 24. “We got along well that day and she showed the sort of time she can run. She felt magic,” McCarthy said. “I know how hard a challenge this will be. These are the best trotters in the world, many of them in their own backyard, and in one of the great races. “Every horse in the series has to be a star in its own right just to make it that far. “Realistically, if she can finish top four in her heat and make the final she will have done an amazing job.” The Elitlopp is somewhat unique in that two heats are held early in the day and the first four home in each heat contest the final just two hours later. “If she arrives there safe and sound and can show the form she did at Menangle, running the two races in a day won’t bother her,” McCarthy said. Maori Time showed she was over a bout of atrial fibrillation when she sparkled in a Maryborough trial last Sunday. “The trial was brilliant. She went her last mile in 1min55.9sec and home in 56sec. She’s off to Sweden,” Crews beamed. The Elitlopp is run at Stockholm’s Solvalla track on Sunday, May 25.   Adam Hamilton

Maori Time is the fifth entrant into Sweden’s famed Elitloppet as Australia bursts back on to harness racing’s European stage. The much-anticipated invitation was received overnight, which will see Maori Time leave Australia’s shores on May 9 to contest the May 27 Elitloppet at Stockholm’s famed Solvalla race track. Harness Racing Australia CEO Andrew Kelly said the invitation was a great result for connections and the Victorian trotting gait. “It is a terrific feather in the cap for all to have a horse considered good enough to make that trip,” Mr Kelly said. “This is not a small adventure to be undertaken by connections and by Maori Time herself.” Owner and breeder Fred Crews and trainer Brent Lilley have both long awaited the invitation, which was pursued soon after Maori Time produced an Australian record smashing 1:51.5 mile rate when saluting at Menangle on February 24. She will be the first Australian-trained horse to make the trip since Sundons Gift ran sixth in his heat in the 2009 Elitloppet. “It’s a very short and elite list,” Mr Kelly said of Australia’s Elitloppet entrants. “It’s the most famous race in Scandinavia if not Europe. “Fans from all over attend the day, they paint their faces and dress in their traditional grab to make the most of the day. The horses are very well known in that part of the world and have their own fan clubs.” Maori Time is only the fifth horse to have been invited for the May 27 race day, which features two heats into a final. The eight-year-old by Pegasus Spur out of Sundonna joins other invitees Readly Express (Sweden), Uza Josselyn (Switzerland), Bold Eagle (France) and Propulsion (Sweden). Her exposure on the world stage further reinforces Australia’s trotting wealth and strengthens European bonds. “It’s important not only to be sharing our racing product to Europe but that people realise the bloodstock talent that exists in Australia and that Europeans may want to invest in Australia as well,” Mr Kelly said. “It is a great opportunity to showcase some of our bloodlines. The wagering on our racing is bubbling along really well in Europe and those in Sweden are really interested in our product.” Trots Media - Michael Howard READ: ELITLOPPET A TRIP OF A LIFETIME, FRED CREWS TOLD THETROTS.COM.AU

Veteran Timoko (10m Imoko-Kiss Me Coulonces-And Arifant) blasted to the front from post five and scored easily by three lengths for Bjorn Goop and trainer/owner Richard Westerink in today’s Benders Elitloppet Final (3SEK million to the winner, 1609 meters autostart, eight starters). He was clocked in 1.09kr (1:51.02) at 31/1 to pin a stunning defeat on Propulsion and Resolve at 16/1 and 11/1 respectively. Heavily backed Bold Eagle was fourth and Nuncio was fifth. Neither had anything left and had no excuses. Timoko was simply the best this day as he recorded career victory 34 in 98 starts for 47,248,058SEK (that is US$5,432,318 at today’s conversion rate). Quite a feat for quite a horse!!! Timoko Elimination 1 Bold Eagle (6m Ready Cash-Reethi Rah Jet-Love You) easily took the first Benders Elitloppet 2017 elimination by six lengths timed in 1.08.4kr (mile rate 1:50.05) for driver Franck Nivard, trainer Sebastien Guarato and owner Pierre Pilarski. The winner sat alongside pacesetter Delicious, in the death seat, with Resolve second over until top of stretch when the Eagle motored away under little urging. Bred by Jean Etienne Dubois the Eagle was off at 3/2 odds and bested 9/1 Resolve (6m Muscle Hill-Anikawiesahalee-Credit Winner) handled by Ake Svanstedt with third to 13/1 DD’s Hitman (6m Donato Hanover-Deedee’s Destiny-Muscles Yankee). Veteran Spring Erom (12m Gentle Star-Springflickan-Prince Mystic) landed fourth for Christopher Eriksson. Bold Eagle Elimination 2 Elimination #$2 went to home town favorite Nuncio (6m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane) with Orjan Kihlstrom up for trainer/owner Stefan Melander. Propulsion was a game second for Johan Untersteiner, beaten half-length in the 1.10.1 clocked event (1:52.79). Timoko (10m Imoko-Kiss Me Coulonces-And Arifant) held third after traveling wide all the way for Bjorn Goop. The fourth spot to the final went to In Vain Sund (5m Revenue-Staro Yasmine-Supergill) for Erik Adielsson. Nuncio Bold Eagle will get first choice in the final post position by virtue of the fastest elim time. The big crowd of over 30,000 is enjoying the action on this warm day. Thomas H. Hicks

Freehold, NJ --- As John Campbell prepared to head to Sweden for his final Elitlopp, he admittedly knew little about the horse he is driving in Sunday’s elite harness racing invitational for older trotters. But he did know the most important thing. “The only thing I know is that he’s inexperienced for this level of competition, but he does have a lot of speed and ability,” Campbell said about lightly raced 5-year-old Tjacko Zaz. “He’s got the fastest race time in Sweden this year. As a driver, that’s what you’re looking for, something that can go fast. And he definitely can. I’ll certainly get a lot more information from the trainer when I get there.” Tjacko Zaz has raced only once this year, winning in 1:51.4 (mile rate on a five-eighths-mile track). The horse is a son of U.S. stallion Crazed out of the Angus Hall mare Kinoras Zaz. He is trained by Timo Nurmos and will start from post four in the first of Sunday’s two Elitlopp eliminations at Stockholm’s Solvalla Raceway. The top four finishers from each elimination return later in the day for the final. Campbell, who will hang up his colors in July to take over the role of Hambletonian Society president and CEO from the retiring Tom Charters, won the 1988 Elitlopp with Mack Lobell. Campbell last competed in the event in 1996, winning an elimination with Triple T Storm and finishing fifth in the final. Three years ago, Campbell returned to Solvalla for a legend’s race and was reunited with Mack Lobell for a special ceremony at the racetrack. In addition to Sunday’s Elitlopp, Campbell will drive in six other races that day at Solvalla. “I’m really looking forward to it,” Campbell said. “It’s obviously my last time driving in Sweden, so there’s that. Any time you get to go to the Elitlopp it’s special. And they’ve treated (my wife) Paula and I so well every time we’ve gone to Sweden that you just can’t help but look forward to it. They’ve treated us extremely well over the years.” Campbell has won 10,659 races in his Hall of Fame career and earned a record $299.71 million in purses. Campbell’s win with Mack Lobell in the Elitlopp ranks among his greatest memories. “The first thing that comes to mind is the crowd, the fans, just how electric and enthusiastic they are,” Campbell said. “It’s more than a horserace, it’s a sporting event. “Winning it with Mack, he’s the only 4-year-old to have won it, which is something that is very special in my career. Just the fact Mack did that, I look back in almost astonishment that he did. It’s one of my best memories.” Campbell can recall all the details from the day. “That one is easy to remember, both heats,” Campbell said. “He had an outside post (seven) in the first race and they were trotting out of there a hundred miles an hour so I just took him off the gate. They go so slow the middle half and when they started to slow down Mack really got on the bit and I wasn’t going to be able to keep him in where I wanted. I flipped him three wide (prior to the second turn) and he made the front and won easily from there. “I remember one of the Swedish journalists said ‘All we ever heard about was how fast Mack Lobell could leave and he didn’t leave at all.’ I said, ‘Well, you just stick around for this second heat.’ And he just went right down the road and won. He left the gate really hard the second heat, and he had to because there was so much early speed. Once he got control of the race he did everything else on his own from there.” This year, French star Bold Eagle is the favorite to win the Elitlopp. Bold Eagle is in the first elimination, with Campbell and Tjacko Zaz, and will start from post five. The elimination also includes U.S. representative Resolve, who will leave from post eight with trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt, as well as several other horses that launched their careers in the States: DD’s Hitman, Delicious, and Cruzado Dela Noche. Online oddsmakers have Bold Eagle as the favorite in the elimination, followed by Delicious, Resolve and DD’s Hitman. Returning Elitlopp champion Nuncio, who Campbell drove during a multiple-stakes-winning career in the U.S., is a slight favorite in Sunday’s second elimination. Up And Quick and formerly U.S.-based Propulsion also are receiving strong consideration in the division. Bold Eagle is the favorite to win the final, followed by Delicious, Nuncio, Resolve, Propulsion, and Up And Quick. Campbell might have a long shot in the Elitlopp, but he is thankful for the opportunity to drive in the event and focused on the task at hand. “Before the race, you’re going to take a look around and take it all in, for sure,” Campbell said. “Once you get in the post parade you’re not soaking in anything. You’re concentrating on the race. It’s a totally different mindset once you go to the post parade. “Just to have a horse in the Elitlopp this year is really special because I didn’t expect it,” he continued. “When I spoke to them about going over, I was going to drive in some other races and make some appearances, so this is a bonus getting into the Elitlopp.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

May 25, 2017 - Elitloppet weekend is something special, highlighted by the May 26 Elitauktion, May 27 Sweden Cup and May 28 Elitloppet, surrounded by partying, networking and exploring in a superb harness racing environment. Below you will find catalog and program links. The yearling sale is interesting to me as it includes offspring of Bold Eagle, Ready Cash, Timoko, Bird Parker, Muscle Hill and the memorable Googoo Gaagaa. Click here for the Catalog. Click here for the Auction Company site that will have live feed. Example catalog page follows. There are 94 head in the book and six outs so far. The race program links follow. Enjoy!!! Click here for the Sweden Cup Day May 27 Click here for the Elitloppet Day May 28 Thomas H. Hicks

May 23, 2017 - Superb harness racing, festivities and partying await those attending the 2017 Elitloppet at Solvalla Racecourse. 16 Elite Race entrants include some of world’s best – Bold Eagle, Timoko, Resolve, Up and Quick among them. Of interest to me is the breadth of pedigree and variance in earnings. However, anything can happen in a horse race and even recent form can be reversed, up or down. Bold Eagle has been lightly raced since the Vincennes Winter Meet and has been standing stud, Nuncio has seemingly been off form in his last three starts. Resolve has raced once and qualified once off a long layoff. Delicious has been undefeated over two years, albeit racing few times against generally less than top competition. Timoko has be grinding on in his ten year old campaign, racing consistently but perhaps not in his past peak form. It’s anybody’s guess – make your wagers and enjoy. Elimination 1 Horse – Driver – (Trainer) – Country – Pedigree – Career Earnings in SEK (conversion to USD .115) 1. Spring Erom – Christoffer Eriksson (Dan Widegren) – SWE Gentle Star - Springflickan - Prince Mystic; 7,583,341 2. D.D.’s Hitman – Ulf Ohlsson (Petri Puro) – FI -Donato Hanover - Deedee's Destiny - Muscles Yankee; 2,724,569 3. Delicious U.S. – Örjan Kihlström (Daniel Redén) – SWE - Cantab Hall - Ipsara LB - Lemon Dra; 6,481,572 4. Tjacko Zaz – John Campbell (Timo Nurmos) – SWE - Crazed - Kinoras Zaz - Angus Hall; 970,381 5. Bold Eagle – Franck Nivard (Sébastien Guarato) – FR - Ready Cash - Reethi Rah Jet – Love You; 31,194,709 6. Cruzado Dela Noche – Björn Goop (Stefan Melander) – SWE - Muscle Massive - Alidade - Credit Winner; 4,900,971 7. Takethem – Steen Juul (Steen Juul) – DE - From Above - D'Cherie - New Quick; 2,430,668 8. Resolve – Åke Svanstedt (Åke Svanstedt) – USA - Muscle Hill - Anikawiesahalee - Credit Winner; 20,837,506 Elimination 2 Horse – Driver – (Trainer) – Country 1. Up and Quick – Franck Nivard (Franck Leblanc) – FR - Buvetier d'Aunou - Fichtre - Quiton du Coral; 19,425,650 2. Twister Bi – Christoffer Eriksson (Jerry Riordan) – IT - Varenne - Lorraine Bi - Lemon Dra; 2,872,055 3. Propulsion – Johan Untersteiner (Daniel Redén) – SWE - Muscle Hill - Danae - Andover Hall; 7,282,195 4. Nuncio – Örjan Kihlström (Stefan Melander) – SWE - Andover Hall - Nicole Isabelle - Lindy Lane; 27,948,230 5. In Vain Sund – Erik Adielsson (Daniel Redén) – SWE - Revenue - Staro Yasmine – Supergill; 3,243,197 6. Timoko – Björn Goop (Richard Westerink) – FR - Imoko - Kiss Me Coulonces - And Arifant; 44,173,058 7. Dante Boko – Adrian Kolgjini (Lutfi Kolgjini) – SWE - Going Kronos - Margherita Rose - Abo Volo; 5,672,776 8. Elian Web – Janne Soronen (Katja Melkko) – FI - Like A Prayer - EL Dolly - Conway Hall; 3,551,213   Saturday’s Sweden Cup, often referred to as the junior Elitloppet, presents three eliminations each worth 100,000SEK to the winner and a final for 600,000SEK first prize. Notables in this group include BBS Sugarlight, Charrua Forlan, Vasterbo Highflyer (two straight wins in fast-class company), Harry Haythrow, Cool Keeper, Ringostarr Treb, Volstead, Thai Broadway and Buzz Mearas. The excellent Saturday program also includes the Lady Snarts for mares worth 200,000SEK first money. Patricia Hastrup, Wild Honey, Treasure Kronos and Shadow Gar face the starter in this 1640 meter autostart event. The Solvalla racing weekend also features the Gr. II International UET Masters Harper Hanovers, worth 500,000SEK to the winner, and raced over 3140 meters voltstart. The top entrants, all handicapped 40 meters, are Sauveur, Rod Stewart (Jerry Riordan trainee and racing well of late) and El Mago Pellini. Legendary trainer Anders Lindqvist starts Butler (by Ready Cash) with a 20 meter penalty. To make the weekend more enjoyable is the appearance of legendary reinsman John Campbell, down on seven mounts Elitloppet day including the Elite Race. Participants Elitloppet 2017 Thomas H. Hicks

He started out his career racing in the New York Sire Stakes Fair Circuit and now J A T O has received and accepted the biggest invitation of his life. He is going to race in Sweden at Solvalla Racetrack the day before the Elitlopp Day this coming Saturday, May 27. He will be competing in what is called the "Little Elitlopp" for horses that nearly were invited for the big event. The Little Elitlopp is also raced in two heats.  The five-year-old gelding by Big Apple Deli from the Credit Winner mare, Highwaytoheaven, is currently being trained and will be driven by the world renowned Swedish horseman, Ake Svandstedt. J, A T O is co-owned by the Our Horse Cents Stable of Melville, NY with Rossie Smith of Greenville, NY. Longtime owner, Eugene Kurzrok, of The Horse Cents Stable, confirmed this morning that J A T O is leaving today for Sweden. “He (J A T O) will be racing in an undercard event for a purse of $180,000,” Kurzrok said. “and this is the first time I have ever had a horse race in Sweden. This is very exciting; the whole sport of harness racing is exciting. Unfortunately, I will not be going over to watch him race.” A career winner of $157,808 and a record of 1:54 at age four, J A T O has come a long way since the NYSS Fair Circuit. This year he already has two wins, three second place and two third place finishes in just seven starts. He recently won at the Meadowlands, beating Melady’s Monet in 1:54.1 and the week prior, won at Yonkers Raceway in 1:56.3. Growing up, J A T O was the stablemate with the top trotter, Dayson, and now travels to Sweden with the great Resolve as his new stablemate. At age two and three, J A T O was a terror on the New York Sire Stakes Fair Circuit, winning 25 of his 27 starts. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

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