Last Sunday, they became the ice-hockey world champions. And then only a week later they won the Elitloppet final.
“Right now it makes no difference where you happen to be in the world,” declared an elated Daniel Sedin, on the phone from Vancouver, Canada to TV4 after the horse he owns jointly with his brother Henrik, the splendid Nahar, won Elitloppet.
It was cold, rainy and windy weather at Solvalla at the 62st running of the Elitloppet. But there was nothing wrong with the atmosphere, fuelled by some 25 000 spectators enjoying the event, bringing with them their various hopes, dreams and theories.
There were those who were convinced that the hot favorite Sebastian K. and Åke Svanstedt would win. Elsewhere, a great many Finnish trotting enthusiasts were rooting for Brad de Veluwe, not to mention those who were hoping that the charismatic Lutfi Kolgjini would be first to cross the finishing line with Raja Mirchi.
And yet, the winner turned out to be none of these...
It was Robert Bergh's Nahar, owned by the new ice-hockey world champions in the Swedish national ice-hockey team, Tre Kronor, Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
“It’s completely incredible. What a race he ran!” Daniel continued, supported by his father, Tommy, who had watched the race on site at Solvalla.
Trainer Robert Bergh, from Bergsåker, was both composed and elated in response to his historic first victory at Elitloppet.
“I was going to throw my whip up in the air as a classic victory gesture before we crossed the finishing line, but this time I wanted to be really sure,” explained Robert Bergh after his fifth, and so very lucky, start at Elitloppet.
Sebastian K. and Åke Svanstedt were the favorite after a solid win in the second elimination race, before Nahar, Brad de Veluwe and Arch Madness.
Nesta Effe, Timoko, Raja Mirchi and Formula One had advanced from the first elimination race, where Maharajah never made it to the start.
In the final, Nahar, Raja Mirchi and Sebastian K. flew the Swedish flag while flying blue and white for Finland was Brad de Veluwe and Formula One. Nesta Effe represented Italy, then Arch Madness for the United States and from France, Timoko.
Thanks to the efforts of Nahar and Robert Bergh, the Swedish flag was hoisted in the winner's enclosure with Arch Madness in second place and Timoko coming in third. The victor was awarded SEK 3,000,000. Prize money also went to Brad de Veluwe in fourth place and Raja Mirchi in fifth.
So what became of the big favorite, Sebastian K.? He came in last after being put under pressure at the front by Raja Mirchi for the greater part of the race.
The winning time for Nahar, charging from the outer fourth post position with 600 meters left, to win comfortably, was 1.10.1.
“Last Saturday we were invited to Prince Daniel's race at Gävle, which we won. It was thanks to this victory that we were given the chance to compete in Elitloppet. And the very least you could say is that we used that chance well,” smiled Bergh.
Robert Bergh began training the eight-year-old Nahar on April 12, 2012 and the horse was bought by Stall Sedin HB a month later. Nahar was previously trained by Petter Lundberg, Petri Puro, Håkan Eriksson and Per Lennartsson.
Until today, he was more highly regarded for his power and strength than his speed, and questions had been raised about his invitation to start in Elitloppet. Was he, in fact, just a track filler?
The answer was, of course, a resounding No!
After seeing Nahar come in in second place in the second elimination race, spectators and betters could see that Nahar had moved up a gear, the horse and driver radiated calm confidence and belief in themselves which resulted in low winning odds set at 5.48.
But what of last year's winner Commander Crowe?
Prior to the second elimination, the big topic of conversation was in fact Commander Crowe. Last year's winner had run open an old laceration and the question was whether he was fit to start or not? The vet, Susanne Demmers, and the judges finally gave the go-ahead, but from the third position the ten year old never looked to be a likely winner.
“We have strict system of animal welfare in Sweden and I really hope the vet and the judges took the right decision,” questioned TV4’s expert and six-time winner of Elitloppet, Stig H Johansson.
After this exciting horse racing event lasting for three days, which has gathered approximately 50,000 spectators, Solvalla and ATG will be regrouping and recharging for the Elitloppet Weekend 2014 (23-25 May).
Hopefully, this will be with Nahar and Bergh in place as the defending champions.
For more information, please contact:
Leif Almgren, Information Manager ATG
Hasse Svennehed, PR Manager ATG
ATG, the Swedish Horse Racing Totalisator Board, was founded in 1974. The company was established by the state, with the aim of guaranteeing long-term financial stability for trotting and thoroughbred racing.
ATG's success on the betting market, and the surplus generated by the company's business, have made a major contribution to the health of horse sport in Sweden: the country today can boast of a high class of equine sport in general, and of trotting racing in particular. The profits produced by our betting activities also benefit other horse-related areas of industry.