V75®: Handsome Brad a win candidate in Åby Stora Pris
SEK 2 million awaits the winner.
Ulf Stenströmer has a lot of faith in the star of his stable Handsome Brad in this year's Åby Stora pris.
"My feeling is that he's a little bit better this year. It's a tough race but at least there's no horse like Propulsion that feels unbeatable. I think I have a horse that should have a chance".
The big races are coming up one after the other and on Saturday Åby is hosting STL finals including the Group I race Åby Stora Pris.
Åby Stora Pris is since 2018 a true trial of strength over 3,140 meters and in both 2018 and 2019 the winner was Propulsion.
Axevalla licensed trained Ulf Stenströmer's Handsome Brad finished fifth last year and the seven year old stud horse seems to be even stronger this year. Handsome Brad won Jämtlands Stora Pris on June 6 and followed that up by finishing fourth in Kymi Grand Prix in Finland three weeks ago. In his most recent start on July 18 on V75 at his home track Axevalla, he won the gold division.
"I think he has taken big steps forward every winter including last winter. From being an OK three year old he became a good four year old and then he stepped up to become a top five year old and last year he became an elite horse. It feels very good that he keeps improving every year and maybe it's because we have raced and managed him carefully" says Ulf Stenströmer.
"In his last start at Axevalla the race didn't turn out the way we thought it would but he was phenomenal and it was nice to see him deliver. In the test barn his heart rate was only 99. He won without being tired and I think I have to agree that he has taken another step in up this year" says the Axevalla licensed trainer about his star protegé.
What do you think of his chances in Åby Stora Pris this year compared to when he finished fifth last year?
"My feeling is that he is a little bit better this year. It's a tough race but at least there's no horse like Propulsion that feels unbeatable. I think I have a horse that should have a chance to win. My horse is versatile and races well on all distances, he has shown that".
"There are several horses in the field who benefit less from the three kilometer long distance than my horse do, he was close to the world record in Harper Hanovers last year but finished second. Moni Viking will be bet a lot but we almost beat him in Finland, my horse made up several lengths on him the last 300 meters and lost the third place in a photo finish".
What are the plans for Handsome Brad after Åby Stora Pris?
"I would like to race him in Sundsvall Open Trot in three weeks. The Swedish Championship is also a reasonable goal later this fall".
"I would like to take him to France, but the owner doesn't. We have to talk about that. Prix d'Amerique is nice and I've won Prix de France before, you also have dreams".
Stable in good form
Ulf Stenströmer has his stable in good form and last Saturday he took a V75 double at Rättvik when Flash Håleryd and Vien Ici both won.
"Both horses came up with very strong efforts and it's nice to know that the stable is in form going into this Saturday, even if we have had some throat issues with some of the younger horses it's nice to know that the older ones are in good form" says the Axevalla trainer.
Flash Håleryd is also racing at Åby on Saturday and he drew post position six behind the gate in a sprint race with SEK 220,000 to the winner.
"With his last win he stepped into the gold division so I thought I have to be tough with him and race him back to back weeks as a preparation going to the final of the silver division, which will be his big goal later this fall, on the Kriterium weekend at Solvalla" says Stenströmer.
"He left in 1:08 speed and came home in 1:10 speed in his last start. This is a tricky post position for him. But he can leave very quickly and I don't think he is chanceless. Winning might be tough but he has surprised me before and it's not completely out of the question" says Ulf Stentrömer.