Geir Vegard Gundersen is one of Norway's best trainers.
He has won nine Norwegian Derbys. Now, he takes aim at the Swedish one.
The four-year-old talent Imperatur Am chases his seventh straight win in one of the eliminations.
"He has never been tired and I think he has a good chance to win" says the Norwegian trainer.
Geir Vegard Gundersen is one of the most succesful trainers in Norway. He has won nine Derbys, six as a trainer and three as a driver, plus three mare Derbys.
He has tried in Sweden before, but is yet to succeed. The talented Elegant Ima quickly reached the top as a three-year-old, but had soundness issues as a four-year-old and not much went right for him.
"Elegant Ima was an early talent and we thought we had a horse good enough for the biggest Swedish races. Things didn't work out and he had soundness issues. Unfortunately he is injured again and we have to see if he can make it back" says Gundersen.
He now has a new chance. Imperatur Am comes into the eliminations with six consecutive wins. The four-year-old son of Ready Cash started his career on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, at the Marcus Melander stable before he was shipped over here to Norway and the Gundersen stable.
"4 Imperatur Am (V75-3) is a big horse who needed time and didn't fit the schedule in North America. He has always shown talent, but he is more strong than he is quick and was a bit too late to fit in over there. We have let him take the time he neeeded to get acclimated and grow. He is a very nice horse and we have a lot of hopes for him, going forward. He is at least the same kind of talent as Elegent Ima, but Imperatur Am is just later to develop".
The distance a huge advantage
The Swedish Trotting Derby is raced on the long distance, 2,640 meters, something that Geir Vegard Gundersen sees as a big advantage.
"He is very strong and tough and he doesn't need a certain trip and so far that has been his biggest asset, he also has the right attitude on the track. He has also learned to leave pretty well".
The Gundersen stable has had and has many top trotters and Imperatur Am is on his way to grab a spot on their top list.
"I have to say so, yes. Like I said, he is a big talent and he has never had to go all out, so I don't know how good he is, he solves his tasks in a very easy way. He has developed a lot lately and he was tremendous in his last start. He had to go three-wide for a while before he got up outside of the leader and he still won easily, without having to go all out".
With six consecutive wins, Imperatur Am will be on many V75 tickets on Tuesday.
"We are coming with a very good horse and I think we have a good chance to win. It would be huge to race in the Swedish Trotting Derby, but at the same time I know it's very tough. The races in Sweden are tough as nails and this year's four-year-olds seem to be just as good as good as last year's crop with San Moteur, Calgary Games and others. This year, Francesco Zet has shown to be extraordinary and if we were to reach the final, we would be the underdogs in any case".