Some of you will have seen I was in Sweden over the weekend attending the Swedish Grand National at Strömsholm. It was my second time attending the Swedish Grand National and my third time visiting Sweden (I went to Täby race course earlier this year). My journey to Sweden was once again long involving coaches and planes but its always worth it. Landing in Sweden on Friday myself and others were invited to walk the course which was led by Magnus & JP. Walking around this course taking in its history and beauty is a privilege. Set in the countryside its like the front of a postcard. This time round the weather during the course walk was very different. Plenty of rain but it never spoiled it for me, was different that's all but my shoes did take on more water than a sinking ship!
After this come the traditional BBQ on the course which was a delight. Moving on to the Swedish Grand National Day itself the weather took a turn for the better and it was nice and sunny with just the odd small shower but it never spoiled a great day. I was asked to judge best turned out (which I was asked to do last year) for races 1-8 which I was delighted to do as I do enjoy doing my own best turned out when I attend my local race courses.
Kicking off with the Easyfix sponsored Swedish Champion Hurdle won by Falconettei ridden by Cevin Chan (who would later go on to win the Swedish Grand National) before this race their was a few pony races which were fun to watch. With the winners maybe becoming Sweden's future top jockeys?..
With the 9 race card the Swedish Grand National was Race 7, perfectly placed in the card in my opinion. After judging best turned (Monfalcone) I took my position near the commentators tower. A great spot especially for seeing them come past the winning line. It was another success for Germany as Kazzio won the big one previously won by Ländler. Another big win for Kazzio and Cevin Chan for trainer Pavel Vovcenko. Two more races and the day would sadly end.
After the day of racing it was the traditional Swedish Grand National after party this year hosted at a new venue. The after party was to toast the winner and the horses and its always a tradition at the after party that the Swedish Grand National trophy or the Swedish Grand National Annual Challenge Trophy to give it its full name is filled with champagne and is passed around everyone so they can take a drink from it. To which I did. It was a great night at the after party, good food and drink with good music which got people busting a move or two on the dance floor.
Before I end this I just want to say its truly brilliant how much hard work goes into this meeting all by a team of amazing volunteers. Strömsholm is a truly wonderful place to watch racing and the Swedish Grand National is so special and I can say it holds a place in my heart and I hope to continue attending it for a long time to come. I've met some great people from my two visits. I honestly urge people if their ever in Sweden around the time to visit the Swedish Grand National, you'll have a wonderful time and make some great friends.
Thank you to everyone who again made me feel welcome. Thanks to Magnus and Elisabeth, my good friend David who done a great job on commentary, Camilla (lovely to see you again) and Amie. It was also good to see John and Alex again as well as trainer Jose Lopera and Dennis Persson and some new faces jockey Mark Quinlan (2nd in the Swedish CH & 4th in the SGN) and his friend Aodhagán. As well as Mark's agent Stefanie. Big thanks to Ingrid and the drivers who drove us around. Sorry if I have missed anybody out.
See you next year!