This weekend, the Stochampionnet, or the Mares Championships will see the biggest race a mare can win in Sweden, take place on Sunday in Axevalla (4:14pm).
Introduced in 1969 it was the first major event restricted to mares in the country. Since then, there have been many more races introduced to the calendar for the mares, especially in the bigger races for the younger horses, with many having their own mares division.
Back to this weekend’s race, it is a contest which will crown the Champion four-year-old mare. Taking place over 2640m it is a staying event that requires a mare that is both strong and fast.
Over the years, several of the sport’s best mares have won the race.
Both Queen L and Ina Scot, who landed the Championship at Axevalla in 1990 and 1993 respectively have gone on to win the world’s toughest race the Prix D’Amerique at Vincennes in France.
Melander strong handed this year
Looking at the initial entries for the race can be really intriguing, for us to see the mares that could go on to big things later in their career.
That is the case this year, with 85 mares entered for the competition. Not all 85 will get a chance to become champion though, with the fields for the six qualifying races decided 10 days before the final.
In total 72 horses will get a chance to take the crown, with the first two in each of the qualifiers earning their place in the final event.
Top coach Stefan Melander has the strongest hand in the race, breaking a record by managing to get five of his mares qualified for the final. His string takes up a large part of the final field of 12.
Of those five, the ante post favourite for the race Ganga Bae is trained at his Åby base. However, while he is well thought of for the race, there are no guarantees, with many challengers lining up to fight for the crown.
Getting the best number, and therefore most promising starting position is American Hill, who is a sister to top trotter Campo Bahia. She gets the number one slot and will aim to lead from start to finish.
Another that impressed me in the qualifiers is the number two mare, Waiting Hill Hall, who will be driven by Danish champion Steen Juul. In my opinion, if you are having a bet on the race, she is the one that looks most worthy of your support.
Axevalla is home to one of the longest straights in Sweden, and it can often take its toll before they cross the finish line. Expect lots of late action in the biggest mares race on the calendar.
Tough Ivory my best bet
Away from the feature race of the day, my best bet of the weekend comes in the eighth race of the day at Axevalla (at 6:20pm). Number 11, Ivory Di Quattro will have a 40 meter handicap to overcome at the start of the race, but is well equipped to do that.
He has had eight starts this season, winning five of those and coming second in two others.
He is a tough, strong horse who can do it tough in his races. Do not expect him to lie down easily up Axevalla’s long straight. He’s worth a bet with the best driver around, Mats E Djuse, in the sulky.