V75: Double upset chances for Stjernström
In the end of November he was thrown out of the sulky in a terrible race accident.
The very next day he won a race at Solvalla.
On Saturday Micael Stjernström would like to win as a longshot on V75.
"I have two horses with enough speed to win, so it's up to me to give them the drives they need" says the trainer and driver.
It was in an amateur race at Färjestad on November 24 that Micael Stjernström went air born when the horse in front of him went down and his own drive Pegasus All Over had no chance of avoiding the collision.
"It all happened so fast, all of a sudden I was on the ground without knowing how badly injured I was. I was hurting and had the presence of mind to not move, I didn't know what could be broken" says Stjernström who after a ride in the ambulance to the hospital came home all beat up at 3:30 am.
Miraculously he had gotten away without any fractures.
A couple of hours later he was training horses and that evening he drove and won with Rasmus Raz in an amateur race at Solvalla.
My initial thought was to do just like they do in horseback riding - get right back up on the horse again. In the race I didn't feel much pain but I realized afterwards that it wasn't such a great idea. I was very sore.
As a matter of fact, Stjernström still have complications from the accident".
"I've had a lot of pain, especially in a shoulder and in my back. Unfortunately you always think more about the animals than yourself, they get treated by chiropractors and massage therapists, but I never went for any follow ups or treatments. I finally went to see a chiropractor a couple of weeks ago and it made me feel much better, of course I should have done that a long time ago. I have been able to drive but I had to quit shoeing horses due to the pain".
"Like driving a go-cart"
After having handed in his professional license and raced as an amateur since 2015, Micael Stjernström is now as of the start of the year once again a professional trainer. Even if it doesn't mean any real difference in his daily routine.
"It was just the summer right after I had handed in my license that I had a job delivering news papers, other than that I have made a living training and racing horses my entire life. It's almost a shame that it's so much fun, because it's so hard to make ends meet. Since I drove too many races last year to be able to race in what used to be the amateur races, I thought I could just as well get my professional license re-activated again. We also got four new horses to train last fall and that was obviously inspiring".
Out of the nine horses on his training list, Stella Pona is the one with the most accomplishments, having made almost SEK 500,000.
Last winter she raced successfully on V75 but after a start at Kalmar in February she suffered a fractured coffin bone.
Having just turned seven at the time one might think it would have been a good time to become a brood mare instead.
"The owners wanted to keep racing her and so did I. We believe she has a lot more to give on the racetrack. The prognosis was good, all she needed was a long rest and now she's back" says Stjernström whose mare has gotten three starts now and finished well at Mantorp a month ago, but wasn't herself in her last start.
"That was my fault. We had a good post position and I felt that I had to leave with her, but she doesn't like being used early, then she just stops. It's all in her head, she has done that before. When she was locked in, racing in a final of Diamantstoet last winter she came off of a bad effort in an amateur race the week before. The way she feels in training, I would say she is very close to the form she had a year ago. Everything comes down to me giving her the trip she needs".
What does 'the trips she needs' mean?
"That I can keep her covered up until the last 300 meters. Then it's like driving a go-cart, she's completely safe and switches gears very quickly. I can almost promise that there is no quicker horse than her in the race".
Could she be the upset winner here?
"Yes, absolutely, if everything goes her way. American Hill will be very hard to beat in the lead, but should she not deliver, then I'm certain my mare is as good as anyone. It's up to me to give her a good drive and save her speed until the top of the stretch".
Any changes in the training or the equipment for this week?
"I will train her a bit quicker in the intervals this week. Equipment-wise she will race the same as usual with a pull down bridle, pull out earplugs and in her regular sulky".
"One heck of a horse"
Micael Stjernström will also get the chance behind his Mantorp colleague Per Thole's Ryssebo La Reine - the mare who got her breakthrough in the summer of 2018 and wasn't worse than second in her first ten lifetime starts.
The last couple of seasons haven't been as successful even though it looked like was getting better when Stjernström took over the driving duties last fall.
"Ability-wise she is one heck of a horse. I felt that right away when I drove her the first time. But she has been very hard on the right line. I don't think it's all because of soreness, some of it is in her head too. The only time she was trotting straight was at Vaggeryd three starts ago, that time she was down at the pylons the entire race and she seemed to like that. So my plan is to get her to the pylons, but it also depends on how she feels on Saturday".
She usually races well coming off a layoff. Do you know how she has been training lately?
"Not more than that the trainer has sent me some text messages where he has been very pleased. I know she has been treated so hopefully they have found what was bothering her last fall".
Can we tell from her warmup if she is better?
"No, in the warm up she keeps throwing her head up and down so it won't show until she's in the race".
Do you if there will be any changes?
"No, I don't. She used to race with an open bridle and she also had a Murphy blind on the inside when she trotted straight at Vaggeryd so she might have that on again. But we'll discuss that on the day of the race".
Is she good enough to win?
"Ability-wise she definitely is, but my plan is to give her a nice trip to build her self confidence back up again. That means she would have to have some racing luck to win. Either way it will be interesting to see how she feels now" says Micael Stjernström.