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Norwegian racing: An introduction from its top trainers

Updated: Oct 2, 2023



Niels Petersen


I got my licence in 1998, and have been champion trainer in Norway for twelve consecutive years. When I got here, Wido Neuroth (who's retiring this year) was the trainer you had to look up to. He’s a great colleague and has been an inspiration for all of us. I’ve looked over his shoulder a few times! Carlos Lopez is our first jockey, and he rides out here every day. I’m happy and relaxed knowing I’ve got him. He’s a stables man, and a jockey for the yard. Sometimes, if there’s a small race somewhere, he might not even go, particularly if there’s important work here. It’s not always easy having first pick at rides, though. Sometimes you can make the wrong choice!


"When I got here, Wido Neuroth (who's retiring this year) was the trainer you had to look up to. He’s a great colleague and has been an inspiration for all of us."

We have fifty odd horses here, and normally we’re full, so there aren’t too many spare boxes. We hold about a quarter of Norwegian horses in training at our stable. It’s a big number, and we have to travel to find races. This year, we have just under twenty two-year-olds. Scandinavia is a small circuit, and we have some challenges crossing the border, as Norway isn’t in the European Union. Race wise, though, it works well, and there’s good communication between the various authorities. I’m one of a few people who think there should only be one pan-Scandinavian racing authority. Our distances are no further than you’d go in England and Ireland.


I was born in Denmark, and worked a bit at Baden-Baden in Germany. I haven’t regretted winding up in Oslo, though. I have a wife and kids here. But you can long for challenges elsewhere, particularly with our long off-season. Dubai has been a good getaway over the years.



Annike Bye Hansen


We took Hard One To Please, last year’s Swedish Derby and Stockholm Cup International winner, to Goodwood last month. Sadly, we met bad weather and the track didn’t suit him. The horse who travelled over alongside Hard One To Please didn’t even get a run, as they abandoned racing before the end of Saturday. That said, they looked after us well in England.


I love good horses, so Hard One To Please has been a pleasure to have around. I’m very focused, and I think I drive people crazy sometimes. I want to go to the races knowing we’ve done all we can, giving the horses every chance to show how good they are. If I think I’ve failed, I’m mad at myself. For them to arrive as babies, and to follow them in the making, it’s very exciting. As well as Hard One To Please, we have another Group 3 winner in the stables: Admiral De Vega took this year’s Stockholms Stora Pris. We also have two listed fillies. So, while we don’t have many horses, we certainly have some good ones.


"I’m very focused, and I think I drive people crazy sometimes. I want to go to the races knowing we’ve done all we can, giving the horses every chance to show how good they are."

I need to travel across Scandinavia for runs, as Norway is too small to go it alone. To be honest, I’m slightly worried about the future of Scandinavian racing. It needs to grow, and I feel it’s shrinking. I think it’s alarming that there were only 44 horses catalogued in the Swedish Yearling Sale. There won’t even be an auction in Norway this year. We need to do a better job selling our sport, and I can’t understand why trotting is bigger than racing. I mean, it’s not like we have people here who can’t afford a horse! Syndicates are the future, and somebody needs to start more up. There aren’t, I feel, enough young owners.


Wido Neuroth, who retires at the end of the season, leads his son, Jan-Erik, into the winners enclosure at Jägersro.

 

For 2024

 





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