Dexter Dunn confirmed to drive in Elitloppet
By Dave Di Somma, Harness News Desk
Dexter Dunn has secured a drive in one of the world's premier races, the Elitloppet in Stockholm, Sweden next week.
It's a major coup for the 10-time New Zealand champion driver who has earned more than $15m in stakes and been crowned driver of the year four times in North America.
Dunn is scheduled to drive Stoletheshow, a Dream Vacation eight-year-old who earned a ticket to trotting's big event with victory in the $240,000 Finlandia-ajo held at the Vermo Racetrack in Finland.
Last year Stoletheshow won the Oslo Grand Prix as one of six wins from 16 races and this year he has raced four times for two wins and a second.
There is also the possibility that Dunn will drive in other races on the card as well.
“We know what Dexter Dunn stands for,” said Stoletheshow’s trainer Frode Hamre.
“He’s getting huge speed on the horses. I’m looking forward to seeing Stoletheshow with Dunn in the wagon in what looks to be the elite race of the century.”
The Elitloppet will be held at Solvalla Raceway, Stockholm on Sunday week (May 28).
"He’s the best over there in the US," says Solvalla head Anders Malmrot, "and it’ll be extra fun that he comes here since he’s never been here before. I talked to him recently and he is excited to come here.”
Just Believe arrives in Stockholm after marathon trip
By Adam Hamilton
More than 60 hours after he left his Victorian stables, star Aussie trotter Just Believe has arrived in Stockholm.
The Inter Dominion and Great Southern Star winner was unloaded at the stables of Hall of Famer trainer Stig H Johansson this morning.
Co-trainer Greg Sugars jokingly said Just Believe handled the trip a lot better than he did.
"Yeah, I hit the wall a few times, but he handled it well," he laughed.
"It sounded a long, long way before we left, but it was even longer doing it all with him."
Just Believe was flown from Melbourne to Bangkok on Tuesday night, had a stopover in Singapore then another in Doho, where he had to change plans and head to Amsterdam.
"Then we had a bit of a break at the 'horse hotel' in Amsterdam before getting on the float and driving through Germany and Denmark before going across the big bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo, in the south of Sweden.
"Even, it was another seven-hour road trip up to Stig's stables."
"Just Believe seems well. He seems bright. I can't say the same for me."
Sugars said Just Believe would have "an easy day or so" before starting his work towards the famed Elitloppet at Solvalla on Sunday week.
"We'll give him time to settle in and have a stretch in a paddock," he said.
"Then I'll assess what we need to do with him between now and raceday.
"The Solvalla people have said we can go in there any time we like to work around the track and get a feel for it. It's not far from Stig's farm."
Sugars is stIll pinching himself he gets to stay with Johansson, who has won more than 7000 races, including six Elitloppets.
"That's a huge highlight in itself," he said. "I still sort of can't believe it."
Sugars and wife, Jess Tubbs, would love to join former mighty Kiwi mare Pride Of Petite as the only Down Under raiders to qualify for an Elitloppet final.
Just Believe will become the eighth Australasian-trained trotter to tackle the Elitloppet and only the third trained in Australia.
"We certainly realise the enormity of the challenge ahead," Sugars said.
"To be part of it will be amazing and he always gives his best, so we'd love to make the final.
"We know we're going to a good draw and plenty of luck in the run."
Queen Elida's possible tilt at Elitloppet
By Adam Hamilton
Brent Lilley is loving being back “home” in New Zealand, but part of his mind is in Sweden.
Although this year’s famed Elitloppet is still more than a week away, Lilley is pondering whether he could be there next year.
“It’s more than 12 months away and there’s lots to play out, but I do think Queen Elida would be an ideal trotter to take to the Elitlopp,” he said.
“She’s just so versatile. She can work early and is just so fast when driven off the pace.”
Lilley, who took Maori Time to the Elitlopp without luck or success in 2018, will be watching Aussie star Just Believe closely this year.
"It's such a strong race. I've got everything crossed for him, but if he can make the final he's done a mighty job," he said.
The Kiwi-bred and Kiwi-owned Queen Elida showed she was right back to her best, maybe better than ever, with a stunning win in the Group 1 Macarthur Mile at Menangle two weeks ago.
Queen Elida has “another couple of $30,000 mares races” at Melton in coming weeks before a break.
“She’ll come back for the Bill Collins’ Sprint in October and then the Inter Dominion (in Queensland). We’ll get through those before we talk seriously about the Elitlopp.”