Next Sunday will see The Elitlopp contested in Sweden. Labelled by Dean Hoffman as one of the top four racing "spectacles" in the Northern hemisphere, alongside the Prix D'Ete, the Little Brown Jug and our own Gold Cup And Saucer on PEI, the race features some of the best trotters in Europe and usually one or more from North America. This year there are three entries invited from each of Germany, France, Italy and North America competing against four from Sweden.
I had an email from someone in Sweden who wanted to know why the European horses were not as good as the North American ones - was it due to what he called second class stallions ? I replied that it has as much to do with how the bloodlines were matched as with the quality of the bloodlines. In Europe there is a tendency to outcross to the point of having as few common individuals across the pedigree either paternally or maternally. Historically this has produced some spectacular horses but the percentage of top performers to mares bred is actually quite low. This lack of consistency contrasts with success rates in North America which reflect a higher degree of inbreeding, particularily on the maternal side.
The Elitlopp entries this year, as is usually the case, are a mixed bag with repect to pedigree. Some are strongly influenced by current North American bloodlines, while others, primarily from Sweden and Germany, show maternal families that have developed regionally, albeit from primarily North American ancestors early in the nineteenth century.
Here are the entries in the two eliminations.
Nu Pagadi (Germany) by the French sire Love You, a son of Coktail Jet. He is inbred to Speedy Crown maternally since his dam is by a son of Speedy Crown. His second dam is German , third dam is Dutch, and the rest of the maternal line is North American.
Copper Beech (Germany) is by Como, a son of the top German sire Diamond Way. His dam is by the Danish sire Dirigenten, second dam by a son of Stars Pride, third dam is German bred, fourth dam is Austrian, There is no Speedy Crown maternally.
Quarcio Du Chene (France) is by Capriccio, a son of the great Italian bred Sharif di Iesolo, has a Speedy Crown line dam through Workaholic, and his maternal line is entirely French.
Lavec Kronos (Italy) also mixes French and North American bloodlines except this time the dam is French bred while the second dam is by Speedy Crown and the rest of the maternal line purely North American. He is inbred maternally to Speedy Crown 3x3.
Ilaria Jet (Italy) is a typical North American style pedigree being by Pine Chip from a Speedy Crown line dam. One of three mares in the race she is inbred to Speedy Somolli 3x3 and her dam is a double to Margaret Parrish.
Nimrod Borealis (France) is by the French sire Arnaqueur and from an entirely French bred mare except for her maternal family of Lancastre, a mare by the Morgan sire Franck Allyson, imported into France in the 1870's. Nimrod Borealis has no Speedy Crown anywhere in his pedigree.
Lucky Jim (North America) is by S Js Photo from a dam who is double to Margaret Parrish and has a Speedy Crown second dam.
Triton Sund (Sweden) is by that country's top sire, Viking Kronos, a son of American Winner. This entry also has no Speedy Crown maternally on the dam side.
Torvald Palema (Sweden) is by Alf Palema, historically one of the top sires in Sweden,. He is one of only two line breds in the event since he is bred 4x4 to Speedy Scot. He is also inbred maternally to the same sire 4x4 as well as to Stars Pride 4x4. Again there is no Speedy Crown maternally.
Enough Talk (North America) is by Enjoy Lavec, and like Lavec Kronos is inbred maternally to Speedy Crown.
Oyonnax (France) was the longshot winner of this year's Prix d'Amerique. His sire is a son of Coktail Jet and Oyonnax maternal line shows no Speedy Crown but features a third dam by the great broodmare sire Florestan and a maternal family that starts with the North American import Lady Pierce, a daughter of American Clay.
Beanie M M (Sweden) is by another of Swedens past top sires in Super Arnie and from a mare by Tibur, an exceptional broodmare sire born in France. Again there is no Speedy Crown maternally.
Define The World (North America) is the lone Canadian entry but one of the likely favorites. By Duke Of York, a son of Balanced Image, he is inbred maternally to Speedy Crown and is from the maternal line of Margaret Parrish.
Lisa America (Italy) is a mare I know well since she is owned by Lou Guida and I had a hand in selecting the sire for the dam Zagabria Dei that produced this exceptional mare. Varenne was the choice based on the 3x3 maternal inbreeding to Speedy Crown and the double to Margaret Parrish both across the pedigree and in Zagabria Dei. We were hoping for a filly and luck was on Lou's side particularily since it was my feeling that Varenne would be a much better sire of fillies. Another feature of the match that former Pedigree Campers will notice is the "flavour of the day" cross to Speedy Somolli from a son to a daughter as was the case for Zagabria Dei as well.
Brioni (Germany) is by yet another son of Coktail Jet in Timberland. Like Torvald Palema the match is double inbred to Speedy Scot and Stars Pride maternally and in this case there is no Speedy Crown anywhere in the pedigree.
Iceland (Sweden) is by the Hambletonian winner Scarlet Night, a son of Pine Chip. Speedy Crown is doubled maternally 3x3 in this match.
So there are the entries. Trying to pick a winner from such a mixed group based on pedigree is probably a bit foolish since they are all well qualified as racehorses and as Marg Neale used to say " Once they are on the race track the pedigree does not matter". However, being a fan of Speedy Crown in maternal lines I am going to predict that most of the finalists and perhaps all of them will come from horses showing Speedy Crown. So here are my predictions.
1. Define The World
2. Lisa America
3. Lucky Jim
4. Ilaria Jet
5. Lavec Kronos
7. Enough Talk
8. Quarcio du Chene
9. Nu Pagadi