Thursday, August 20

GUEST POST: Derby fever in Scandinavia

Derby fever in Scandinavia (by Amie Karlsson)

Bokan and Jan-Erik Neuroth after winning Svensk Derby (L) at Jägersro. Trainer Wido Neuroth to the left. Photo: Stefan Olsson / Svensk Galopp.

The summer is the highlight of the racing season in most parts of the world and Scandinavia is of course no exception. Within five weeks in July and August the three Scandinavian derbies are run, starting with the Swedish version. Svenskt Derby (L), which took place at Jägersro on the 18th July, is the only one run on dirt track. The French-bred colt Bokan (by Soldier of Fortune) won in an impressive manner, giving Norwegian trainer Wido Neuroth his 20th Derby win (that is, a total of twelve winners in the Swedish Derby, six winners in the Norwegian equivalent and two in Denmark). Bokan was ridden by Neuroth's son Jan Erik who had a great day, not only securing his first Derby win but also winning another two races on the card.

Two weeks later, the Danish-bred filly Manacor (by Primatico) beat all the colts in the most important Danish classic - Dansk Derby - staged at Klampenborg near Copenhagen. Danish trainer Bent Olsen has trained a Dansk Derby winner once before, but for the jockey Rafael De Oliveira, the breeder and the owners, it was the first Derby winner. The owners confessed after the race that they actually bought her at the sales because she is born on February 25th – the same month and day as one of them!

TOP: Without Fear and Fredrik Johansson winning Norsk Derby (L) in 2011. Without Fear runs in Marit Sveaas’ Minneløp (Gr3) on Sunday. Photo: Amie Karlsson. 

BOTTOM: Khyber and Jan-Erik Neuroth winning at Täby Galopp in June 2015. Photo: Stefan Olsson / Svensk Galopp.

My personal favourite is the Norwegian (Norsk) Derby at Övreroll in Oslo, which will take place this Sunday at 5pm local time. I would not be surprised if Wido Neuroth, who trains at the track, will saddle his 21st Derby winner, as he has got two good chances with Swedish Derby winner Bokan (again ridden by Jan Erik Neuroth) and stable mate Khyber (by Sinndar). The latter will be ridden by William Buick, who needs no introduction. We're of course very happy to see that Buick can combine his Godolphin job with some rides in his native Norway! He is in fact not the only British-based jockey visiting Norway this weekend, as Silvestre De Sousa rides outsider Mestre Dos Magos.

There are some good horses in the race but one that should be mentioned, and looks like the one for the Neuroth team to beat, is German-bred Quarterback (by American Post), who picked up a bit of prize money in Dubai earlier this spring. Since returning from the Middle East he has only run once, when fourth in the Derby Trial three weeks ago. Quarterback is trained by Rune Haugen, who has been champion trainer in Norway on several occasions and won Norsk Derby twice before. Haugen can occasionally be spotted in England and his Avon Pearl has ran twice at Ascot this year, finishing 8th in the Royal Hunt Cup.

TOP: Berling after winning Swedish Open Mile (L) at Täby Galopp in September 2014. Owner Benny Andersson from ABBA to the right. Photo: Elina Björklund / Svensk Galopp.

BOTTOM: Bank of Burden and Per-Anders Gråberg winning Stockholm Stora Pris (Gr3) at Täby Galopp in June 2014. Photo: Stefan Olsson / Svensk Galopp.

Another highlight of the day is the Group 3 race Marit Sveaas’ Minneløp (4pm local time) over 1800 m turf. Niels Petersen-trained Bank of Burden is looking for a third win in the race, having previously won both in 2012 and 2014. Berling, who won the race in 2013 and more recently won a  very dramatic running of the Scandinavian Open Championship (Gr.3) in Denmark in June (in which Bank of Burden and two other horses fell), can make jockey Dina Danekilde the first female rider to win the race. Berling's trainer Jessica Long from Sweden has had a great season so far and her three year old Swedish-bred star Volatile ran at Royal Ascot this year. And believe it or not, but Berling is actually owned by Benny Andersson from ABBA.

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