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Spring comes to Norway
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - by Dean A. Hoffman

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Dean Hoffman

Columbus, OH --- Recently I got the “Breeding” issue of the excellent Norwegian magazine Trav og Galopp-Nytt (TGN) and found it to be a lot of fun browsing through its hundred or so pages.

No, I can’t read Norwegian, but I’ve been to that beautiful northern European nation enough to pick up bits and pieces of the articles and advertisements. My first trip there was in 1991 to see Peace Corps win the Oslo Grand Prix and then I was there for the magical Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in ’94. My most recent trip to Norway came in 2009.

If you’ve ever wondered whatever happened to those stars of the Grand Circuit trotting stakes in the last 10-15 years, chances are you’ll find many of the males standing at stud in Norway or other European countries. The cross-border commerce in breeding between Norway and neighboring Sweden is quite common and many of the stallions advertised in TGN stand in Sweden.

The inside front cover of this issue of Trav og Galopp-Nytt featured an ad for Banker Hall, the son of Balanced Image that won the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old trotters in 2000. He was third in the Hambletonian the following season and stood briefly in North America before being exported. While in the US, he sired the top filly Klipspringer and others. He stands for a fee of 21,000 Norwegian crowns ($3,630) with 3,000 crowns paid at the time of breeding and the balance due when a live foal is born.

You’ll also find ads for:

  • Adrian Chip – This son of Andover Hall played second fiddle to Donato Hanover during his races in North America.
  • Americanese – He’s a son of American Winner like Viking Kronos, the hottest sire in Sweden. He covers mares naturally.
  • Clerk Magistrate – Another son of Andover Hall. He earned almost $800,000 as a sophomore and got a 1:53.2 mark at Balmoral. He was fifth in the Hambo.
  • Giant Chill - He is best known perhaps as the sire of the dam of the great Maharajah of Sweden. He is a son of Speedy Crown from Chili Bowl by Super Bowl and won both the Peter Haughton Memorial and Breeders Crown for trainer Per Eriksson and driver Sonny Patterson.
  • Mr Commissioner - This son of Tagliabue was a very fast trotter during his days in the US, although I saw him slip into the pace once or twice in races at The Red Mile.
  • Make It Happen – This son of Conway Hall was third in the Hambo and banked $947,829 in North America before being exported.
  • Norvelous Hanover – I certainly remember this impressive son of S J’s Photo trained by the talented Norwegian Arild Eggen. He was third in the Breeders Crown and 4-2 in the World Trotting Derby.
  • Quite Easy – A royally-bred son of Andover Hall out of the Hambo Oaks winner Marita’s Victory by Valley Victory.

Those are just a few I spotted.

Norwegian breeders have access to stallions in North America and across Europe through frozen semen, so you’ll see listings for popular stallions such as Andover Hall, Angus Hall, Broad Bahn, Broadway Hall, Cantab Hall, Conway Hall, Crazed, Credit Winner, Donato Hanover, Explosive Matter, Federal Flex, Holiday Road, Kadabra, Lucky Chucky, Majestic Son, Muscle Hill, Muscle Mass, Muscle  Massive, and Muscles Yankee.

You will also see advertising for Norwegian cold-blood stallions, a breed that they hold near and dear to their hearts because they are national heroes in many respects. While cold-bloods are unknown to readers in North America, they are quite popular in Norway and there are just as many races for cold-blood trotters as there are for Standardbreds. There are, of course, no pacers in Norway or in any other European country except the United Kingdom.

Trav og Galopp-Nytt has long been a source of terrific racing photography and a great photo of a horse knows no language barrier. It’s particularly interesting to see the driving styles of the leading reinsmen in Norway because whips are totally forbidden in racing there. That’s why it was a bit jarring to see the photo of Americanese in his advertisement because the driver is obviously carrying a whip, but then you notice immediately that the photo was taken in Sweden, where whipping is permitted under tight restrictions.

One endearing photo to me showed a group of Norwegians in France paying homage to the great Ourasi, the marvelous French champion that is now 32 years old. This warrior won the Prix d’Amerique four time and almost won it a fifth time. The Prix d’Amerique is known as the toughest trotting race in the world and it takes a great horse to win it once and it’s almost incomprehensible what Ourasi did in that classic test. In this photo, Ourasi is showing his age, but I am sure that each one of the dozen or so Norwegians who made the pilgrimage to see the chestnut stallion have a copy of this print hanging in their home or office. It’s proof that they were once in the presence of royalty.

Speaking of Norwegian trotting, the biggest event of the year, the Olso Grand Prix, is slated for May 12 and it’s sure to attract an all-star field of many of the best in Europe and possibly a few from North America. Arch Madness was an impressive winner in the Oslo Grand Prix last year.

The Oslo Grand Prix is followed by the biggest day of the year in Norway -- May 17. That is their national day or a day comparable to the American Fourth of July. I’ve been lucky enough to witness one such celebration and stood on the Karl Johans Gate in Oslo and enjoyed the endless parade. I’ve never seen so many flags being waved at one time in my life. All Norwegian flags, of course.

If you ever have a chance to go to Norway, just go. It’s a beautiful country full of friendly people. And they love their trotters.

Editor's Note: The views contained in this column are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.

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