Second fastest horse in the country this year.
On Saturday, Four Guys Dream faces the toughest challenge so far in his career in Copenhagen Cup.
"If he wins, I might toss my crutches. I have always wanted to have a horse in this race" says trainer Håkan K Persson.
It was in the silver division at home in Halmstad that Four Guys Dream sprinted home to win in 1:09.6/1,640 meters.
It is still the second fastest time in Sweden this year, only the potential Elitlopp starter San Moteur has trotted faster.
Four Guys Dream is not likely to race in Elitloppet, he has qualified for the silver division final that same weekend, but as a preparation for that final, trainer Håkan K Persson has not chosen an easy race as he sends his horse to Denmark's biggest race Copenhagen Cup - the feature of the Sunday V75 card from Charlottenlund in Copenhagen.
And that is a race that Persson has wanted to race in.
"Yes, that's a race I really like. I have been to the Copenhagen Cup day many times and always had a good time. It's such a good atmosphere there. I never thought I would have a horse for the main event, but after his last victory I got this idea. To raise the bar and test him a bit. It’s perfect in time before the Elitlopp weekend, so I gave it a try and entered".
As opposed to Elitloppet which is by invitation only, Copenhagen Cup is just like any race where the trainers enter and then the horses with the most start points draw in.
"This year they had two invites and eight open spots you could enter to and I am so glad that he drew in".
Horses from many countries
That resulted in a dymanic field of horses that very rarely race against each other. On one side we have the experienced duo Milligan's School and Vitruvio, who combined have made over 200 starts and made SEK 30 million.
On the other side of the spectrum we find the home team, two five-year-old top trotters. First the mare Flower Dust and even more interesting is Festival Of Speed - who in 15 career starts only has lost once. Add horses trained in Sweden, Norway, Italy and France and we have a highly international field that will go for the first prize of over SEK 500,000 over 2,011 meters on Charlottenlund's 950-meter track.
Four Guys Dream is with his lifetime earnings of SEK 1.6 million the horse with the second lowest earnings on his card and he has the lowest average per start by far in the field.
But that doesn't stop the trainer from being optimistic with his class-climber who in his last start raced barefoot all around for the very first time in his career.
"I thought it would have a big effect om him racing barefoot, but it was even bigger than I had hoped. I saw already when he scored down that he had a better kick to his stride. He has been pacey, especially in the first turn and has had to go with a lot of weight. A year ago he raced with heavy steel shoes, lately we have been able to take some weight off of him and two starts ago he raced with aluminum mushroom shoes and a pad, the least amount of weight he had ever had up to that point. But barefoot is a big difference and you could really tell in the race. He crossed the wire with a good bounce to his stride" says Håkan K Persson who was not surprised about his six-year-old's development.
"No, I said in a podcast this past winter that he would trot 1:09 this year once he gets to race barefoot and I was right first time we took the shoes off".
How fast can he go over the middle distance on Sunday?
"If he gets a covered up trip at a fast pace, he can trot 1:10 on the distance. He has it in him. But then he needs the race to go his way".
How has he trained after his last win?
"He has looked very good. There is nothing suggesting that he would be any worse on Sunday".
Has not sat behind a horse in four months
Not felt good.
After an accident last winter Håkan hasn't been able to sit behind a horse in almost four month.
After two weeks in the hospital and some time in a wheelchair, he now uses crutches to move around.
"The problem is that a nerve is broken which makes me unable to use my foot the way I want, it's hard for me to lift it up and I don't have any stability. According to the doctors it will come back, but it might take up to a year and a half before I'm fully recovered. But hopefully I can try sitting behind a horse in a couple of weeks, so I can be out there training again".
How much can you help around the stable?
"Not much at all. I just watch. But it's not all negeative. It gives you a different perspective".
Is it frustrating?
"No, not when things are going so well. We have had very good results this year. Had things gone badly, it might have been different, I guess I would have been more impatient. My staff does a fantastic job and everything works out even if I can't be out there training myself".
Can Four Guys Dream race barefoot again on Sunday?
"Yes, without any problems, he has good feet. Other than that he will race the same way he always does, with blinkers and an American sulky. We had a pair of bell boots on him last time, but Stefan (driver and Håkan's brother) said we could take them off too. But I won't take that chance this time. Now when he drew in the first tier and will have to leave for position I don't want him getting pacey in the first turn. We might take them off at the Elitlopp weekend instead".
Is this race as important as the final during the Elitlopp weekend?
"Yes, or more important. It's huge for me to be in the Copenhagen Cup. If he wins, I might toss my crutches".
Do you think he can win?
"I'm really looking forward to the race and I think he can finish near the winner or even win it himself if things go his way. I have to believe that based on how good he was in his last start and the way he looks in training, he can develop further".
Here is Håkan K Persson's comment about his other starter on V75 this Sunday:
"12 Global Believer (V75-5) is in very good form and under improvement. He is very fast behind the gate and took the lead and won very easily in his last start. Unfortunately the way he drew, he won't be able to do that again and that really lowers his chances. He has stepped up when racing barefoot the last two starts and he will race that way again. Judging by how he trains, he should be even better this time, but the post position makes it tough for him".