Petri Salmela will showcase his star pupil Makethemark in front of the hometrack crowd and he's dreaming of winning Norrbottens Stora pris.
He was locked in without having to get tired in the final of Elitloppet and Salmela almost has to pinch himself in the arm when he tells us how his horse has come out of the race.
"I barely want to say it but he feels even better now than he did before Elitloppet" says Salmela.
Boden has it's biggest race day of the year this Saturday when their annual Midnight Trot will go off. Post time for the first V75® leg is 20:30 and it always turns into a big festival crowd with around 10,000 people in the stands.
Norrbottens Stora Pris, with SEK 1 million to the winner, closes out V75 and will go off just before 23:00 in the midnight sun. Last year the winner was Propulsion with Makethemark finishing second. Trainer Salmela was almost happier with his second place than Redén was with his win with Propulsion.
"That was a great effort by my horse and that's when he stepped into the elite. I was ecstatic and that he was later able to win Jubileumspokalen was huge" says Petri Salmela.
"Would have won Elitloppet had he gotten out"
The Makethemark fairytale surely has continued this year. After winning his seasonal debut in the gold division at Romme, Makethemark got invited to Elitloppet. After finishing second in his elimination behind Readly Express, he then finished third in the final. He never got out and crossed the wire without being tired.
"Ulf (Ohlsson) told me when he handed me the lines after the race that if we get out with 150 meters to go we win the race. I had so much adrenaline that it was hard to absorb the feelings, but I was very happy with the result of course and overjoyed with what my horse had done".
"Of course it was a top effort by my horse and it was almost better than what I had hoped for. But I know my horse and what he's capable of and when we drew post one in the elimination, my hopes of making it to the final increased a lot. Then you know that in the final anything can happen and we really saw this year that just about anything can happen".
"I got to experience Elitloppet for the first time in my life and it was a fantastic feeling. But mentally it was pretty tough with a lot of pressure during the week. Luckily I've had a long career and I try to be calm and organized but it was a special week, for sure" says Petri Salmela.
"It was almost unreal"
How did Makethemark come out of the two heats of Elitloppet and what has he done training wise after that?
"He was off the week after Elitloppet until Friday when Anne jogged him for a bit. Tuesday that week the veterinarian went over him and it was almost unreal because he found pretty much nothing on him".
"The horse felt great and Anne told me already that same night after Elitloppet that he wasn't tired at all and just wanted to eat. I thought already in the test barn that it was amazing that he wasn't more tired than he was".
"Last week he trained intervals twice and Anne was more than pleased with him. She usually doesn't say much but when I asked her last Wednesday how he was she said that I barely want to say how good he feels. He almost feels better than he did before Elitloppet and just as good as he felt before Jubileumspokalen last year" says Petri.
"He's more ready than last year to race against Propulsion"
This Saturday will be another big moment for the Boden licensed trainer when he gets to showcase his star pupil in front of his hometrack crowd. Makethemark drew post five behind the gate and will be driven by Ulf Ohlsson as usual. His toughest opponent is last year's winner Propulsion and it remains to be seen if Makethemark can get his revenge on him".
"Of course it's not an easy task racing against one the best horses in the world, Propulsion. Last year I was very happy that we finished so close to him after a perfect trip. This year my horse is a year older and has acquired some more toughness if you compare to Propulsion who's been at the top for several years. I said already after his five year old season that he doesn't need to be better, he just needed some more toughness".
"That's why I think he's more ready to race against Propulsion this year compared to last year. But there are many nice horses in the race, not just these two, even if they might be the ones in best form right now. Racing luck and trip will determine who wins the race. I don't think Propulsion can do what he did in the Olympic Trot and win being out three wide every time, that's almost impossible".
"The post position is ok and he'll race with the same equipment as in the final of Elitloppet. He raced with toe shoes behind and barefoot upfront in the elimination and in the final he raced barefoot all around. His feet were worn down a little bit but they've grown out now so he can race barefoot all around again. Other than that he'll race in his American sulky and in his open bridle as usual".
"This is our Elitlopp"
For trainer Salmela this race day is of course something special and he has nine horses racing on V75 Saturday.
"After Elitloppet this day has gotten our undivided attention and for the people of Norrbotten this is our Elitlopp. It's a great concept that turned into a success and it's been very well received by the people living up here. We get a lot of owners visiting and everyone is welcome to my stable to grab a bite to eat" says Salmela.
"First time barefoot all around - interesting"
Here are Petri Salmela's comments on his V75 starters and we'll start in the first leg with Canwin B.F. who is undefeated this year after three starts.
"Canwin B.F. (V75-1) is a very interesting horse and we raced him on V75 already as a three year old but then he got injured last year with a fractured coffin bone and was off for a long time. He got a lot of training last winter has come back strongly. Two of his wins were easier races in Boden but he's been very good and last time he won a race in Finland. The thing was that he couldn't earn more than SEK 10,000 or he'd go out of the class. So it turned out perfectly and he fits the class down to the last crown. We had planned on racing him barefoot in his last start but when we tried him behind the gate he looked like a million bucks so we kept the shoes on. But this time they're coming off and I think it will be very interesting to see him barefoot all around for the first time. The post position is fine, he's a big horse but my feeling is that if he just gets to turn on time in volt start he can leave a bit too. He's raced with a Murphy blind and with a can't see back bridle before but this time he will race with an open eye bind bridle. I don't think you can count him out here" says Salmela.
"Is in hysterical form"
"Dragondamour Sisu (V75-2) has finished top three in every start so far but never won and won't do it this time either. She's in good form but needs a perfect trip and if she gets that she can make some money. Maybe if everything works out 100% she could be top three but not better. She'll race barefoot again".
"Lady Zappa (V75-2) is in very good form and winning during the Eliitlopp weekend is never easy and she did it from post twelve. She drew a very good post here even if she starts with a 20 meter handicap and Erik is good at getting them to leave from these types of spots. She can leave well and it wouldn't surprise me if she has caught up to the leader after 300 meters. She needs a good trip and she's in no way a horse that can sit parked outside the leader. But she's in hysterical form and if she gets some form of trip you can't count her out in here. She'll race barefoot again".
"He's worth a warning"
"Rhapsody Ås (V75-5) finally got his win in his last start after having trained well for a long time. Petteri drove him perfectly and he won very easily. That was a cheap race and this is much tougher. He's in good form and if he gets a good trip along the pylons he could make some money".
"Cupido Sisu (V75-5) tried to challenge Eder Bob for the lead in his last start and he was up by half a length but when he goes max speed he tends to hit the bike and so it ended with a break. I promise that considering the form my horse is in right now he would have finished second or third had he not been pushed to a break. He feels very good and he's in top form and I think he's capable of trotting 1:11 over this distance. He drew a bad post but he has raced against tough horses and if it works out and he has some racing luck it wouldn't surprise me if he wins. A new driver is usually a plus on older horses and he's worth a warning. He'll race barefoot again".
"The plan is to pull all shoes and race in an Amercian sulky"
"Zinco Jet (V75-6) wasn't bad when he finished fifth on V75 in his last start but I had expected more from him. Had he been in top form that day he would've been right there in the photo. He's gotten two starts after his layoff now and he was good when he won his first start of the year and he feels good after his last start too. I think think we can expect an even better turnout this time. My only worry is the long trip from where he's stabled outside Stockholm but he's such a cool and calm horse, that I think he'll be fine with it. The plan is to pull all his shoes for the first time in my training and also race him in an American sulky. He should be considered early in this race and I think he's got a good chance to win".
"B.W.L. Ruthless (V75-6) got used way too hard in his last start. He got the lead when a couple of horse broke but the first kilometer was 1:10 and he got very tired at the end. He seems to have come out if well and is happy at home. He's racing on V75 only because it's here at our home track and he has no chance against the best ones in here. If he gets a good trip along the pylons he could make some money".
"Hesiod (V75-7) finished second in his last start after being parked outside the leader in cheap race. He beat the leader but got a little too comfortable and was passed by another horse at the end. He's in the gold division to get some toughness and he'll get a trip along the pylons here. He's ready to trot 1:11 if there's a high and even pace. Of course he has no chance against Makethemark and Propulsion. No changes".