V75®/jackpot: Exciting test with the third place finisher from Elitloppet

In Åby Stora Pris on Saturday the feeling is sort of 'Propulsion against the rest'.
Someone who will try to put up a fight for the SEK 2 million first prize is Petri Salmela.
Makethemark could have won Elitloppet this year had he gotten out and he will once again get a nice stalking trip...
"To beat the big favorite could prove to be impossible - but we know that my horse has a tremendous speed".

After finishing third in Elitloppet and second in both Norrbottens Stora Pris as well as in the Norwegian race Ulf Thoresen Gran International, Makethemark finally hit the jackpot and took home S:t Michel-Ajo in Mikkeli, Finland in the middle of July. 

The six year old came up with a tremendous finish in Finland and showed that the form from Elitloppet is still intact. 

'Make' was the first horse to get invited to Åby Stora Pris. A battle which since last year has a first prize of SEK 2 million. 

Trainer Petri Salmela skipped the one mile race Hugo Åbergs Memorial at Jägersro and he has instead been aiming at the three kilometer race at Åby. 

The six year old who has developed into one of the best sprinters in the world will now compete over 3,140 meters on Saturday. 

The statistics show that Makethemark has only tried long distance once in his entire career. That was when he finished outside the money in his Kriterium elimination at Solvalla in the fall of his three year old campaign.

"Horses of his caliber can do whatever is asked of them and I don't see the distance being a problem. He had throat issues when he tried the long distance as a three year old and had surgery after that. So we can forget about that start".


Shaping him for longer distances

Petri Salmela likes the thought of being the underdog on Saturday. It's not by coincident he's matching his horse over 3,000 meters, it's a strategy to develop the horse further. Many people thought Makethemark wasn't quick enough in the start to be a good sprinter and they were wrong. The hope is now to show that the six year old can take on the elite also over longer distances. 

"There are so many nice long distance races in the world" says Petri and laughs. He means Prix d'Amerique in France of course. 

"Yes, something like that of course. But when and how is still up in the air. In that case it would be next winter or the winter after that. If we can keep the horse as good as he is, it will be fun to start planning a little bit further then just the next start" Petri says. 


Very important test

Åby Stora Pris is as of last year raced over 3,140 meters with a first prize of SEK 2 million. 

Propulsion is the reigning champion in V75®-7 on Saturday and he will be the huge favorite. 

"It's very important and also exciting to now try him over three kilometers. I think he will be just fine. The post position is the worst possible. But if there's anytime you have to have post eight, it's in a three kilometer race. He seems very happy and alert at home. 

"To win everything has to work out perfectly. To beat the big favorite could prove to be impossible" says Salmela who points out that positions and racing luck will determine the outcome. 

Propulsion came up with an incredible finishing speed in Hugo Åbergs Memorial. Daniel Redén and Örjan Kihlström might come with the best horse in the world to the race Saturday. 

"Yes, Propulsion was very good in his last start. If my stopwatch was correct he trotted 1:08.8 last kilometer out three and four wide and much faster down the stretch. It's the same speed Makethemark trotted in a few races last year, between 1:08 and 1:09 last kilometer with a much faster finish". 


"Just sit and wait"

Ulf Ohlsson will give the horse a nice stalking trip again and nobody, including the trainer demands that Makethemark has to win his 3,140 meter debut. But it's a horse race and anything is possible. 

"If Ulf is too many lengths off when they start sprinting home, then of course he has no chance. There's not too many horses who can do all the work themselves in this race. Our horse can't do it. His chance is to just sit and wait as long as possible and then we all know how fast he can finish". 

Makethemark will race with is optimal balance and equipment, barefoot all around and in an American sulky. The bridle will be decided on race day. 

Let the game begin.