SWEDEN: CZECH RAIDER TIPPED FOR GRAND NATIONAL REPEAT
Written on 15/06/23 by Darren Thrussell
The biggest day in Scandinavian jumps racing takes place on Saturday with the 52nd running of the Swedish Grand National at Strömsholm, sponsored by G Construct. Seven runners have been declared for the 230,000 SEK (approx.19,890 EUR) race, which once again has an international feel with runners from Germany and the Czech Republic taking on four locally-trained hopes.
Indeed, no less than five of Saturday’s seven runners took place in last year’s renewal. On that occasion. Czech raider HER HIM led home THREE IS COMPANY, with BOSS MAN LADDER last of the five finishers.
Having returned to Sweden to land the King’s Prize at Bro Park three months after his Swedish Grand National success, Her Him finished a fine third in the Crystal Cup at Wroclaw in October before returning to the Polish course in April for another third placed finish. A faller at the fearsome Irish Bank at Pardubice last time out, Her Him will be ridden on Saturday by Swedish jockey Henrik Engblom, who partnered the French-bred gelding to both his victories in Sweden last year, and could well give Engblom his third successive victory in the race.
Like Her Him, Three Is Company also won at Bro Park in last year, landing a 4000 metres steeplechase there in October. A dual winner in Ireland for top trainer Gordon Elliott, Three Is Company has developed into a consistent sort over fences for owner-trainer Lars-Ake Enström, and was second in the Jockey Club Stora Pris at Bro Park last time out under Saturday’s rider, talented Irish-based amateur Elliot Öhgren.
Boss Mans Ladder was a well beaten fourth in that race, and hasn’t finished in the first three for two years. However, MUTADAFFEQ, the winner of the Jockey Club Stora Pris, was still in touch in last year’s Swedish Grand National when brought down on the flat by German-trained WUTZELMANN, who was leading the race at the time. Having won both his races this year by a total of 18 lengths, Mutadaffeq could well be the best hope of a home-trained success this year.
With no jumps racing in Germany so far this year, Wutzelmann’s career this season has been restricted to a couple of flat races at the Hoppegarten course in Berlin. Although well beaten in both contests, Wutzelmann has always shown his best form over fences, landing a steeplechase on the all-weather surface at Honzrath in October despite carrying a mammoth 74 kilos. With Irish jockey Dylan Robinson, who rode Wutzelmann to victory in a lake steeplechase at Bad Harzburg last July, flying in for the ride, Wutzelmann can be expected to leave his flat form well behind again.
Owner-trainer Anders Herlin won the Swedish Grand National in 2018 with Truckers Glory, and relies this time around on BEATTHEBULLET, who like Truckers Glory was with Welsh trainer Rebecca Curtis before moving to Scandinavia. However, whereas Truckers Glory, was rated 125 after his final UK appearance, Beatthebullet had a rating of only 107 when he joined Herlin, having suffered a drastic loss of form over the last 12 months, falling to complete in three of his last six races, and being beaten a total of 127 lengths in the other three. Having been well beaten in both his starts for new connections in Sweden, Beatthebullet makes little appeal here.
This line up is completed by the second Czech-trained runner in the race, the German-bred MOLLY POWER, whose travelling exploits have brought him victories in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland, lancing the Grosser Preis der Stadt Zurich chase at Dielsdorf last time out. With trainer Alzbeta Faltejskova in excellent form this year boasting a 32% strike rate, Molly Power could run a really big race here. However, it should be pointed out that no six year old has won the race since Neptune Joly in 2007, and having only had four previous runs over fences, Molly Power might lack the experience to cope with the demanding Strömsholm fences.
PREDICTION: HER HIM – WUTZELMANN – MUTADAFFEQ – THREE IS COMPANY
Photo: Runners negotiate one of the obstacles in the 2018 Swedish Grand National at Strömsholm. This year’s renewal of the race takes place on Saturday (Photo copyright Stefanie Ihlenburg / Zwischen den Flaggen / Anglo German Racing).