V75®/jackpot: The super amateur who goes up and down

A self taught amateur who trains his horses with his grandfather on a dirt road in the forest.
Oscar Berglund's journey from being scared of horses to being in the highest division is very special.
"It's a lot of fun that my entire family is so enthusiastic about this, that's my explanation to why it's going so well" says the rising star trainer who is racing two horses on V75® this Saturday.

25 year old amateur trainer Oscar Berglund from Grytan, just outside Östersund has gotten off to an astonishing start of his training career.
During the last five years he wins more than every fifth start he makes.
When this is being written his win percent 2018 is at a remarkable 37.
The last couple of months Berglund has also introduced himself to the bigger audience when winning V75® twice. At his home track in Östersund with Hope And Dreams in June and at Axevalla with Cobourg Hanover in July.
In between those wins there was one more V75 victory for the latter one in a V75 race at Dannero racetrack that wasn't on the actual V75 card.
To call him a rising start is no overstatement, especially considering Berglund didn't get in touch with horses until in his late teens.
"There's no history of horses in our family. We're a hockey family. My dad and my mom's dad both played at a semi high level and the plan was for me to do so too, my last few years in school was all about hockey. But then we moved to a new farm and ended up neighbours with the Djuse family. The sons got me into horses and then I was stuck" says Oscar Berglund.

Best friends
In the neighbouring family it's been all about race horses for generations.
The four brothers Mattias, Martin, Mats and Magnus Djuse are all licensed drivers, just like their dad Anders and his brother Lennart.
However this is not about that family, but the family who moved in to the next farm over.
The hockey fanatics who swapped out their passion for trotters.
Behind the success of Oscar Berglund is a true family business where the single most important piece is 71 year old grandfather Carl Gustaf Alander with a past as a hockey player in Leksands IF during their prime in the seventies.
Who also now holds an amateur license.
"When I wanted to take my amateur trainers license I said to my grandfather that he has to come to class too, I didn't feel comfortable going by myself. 'I do't know anything about horses' was his reply. But he came with me and after the first class he was as hooked as I was. And ever since, we've been in it together. We're both total fanatics at this point and I can't give him enough credit. He's over 70 years old, but with a mind of a 20 year old, we're on the same level. We're like best friends" says Oscar Berglund.
It didn't take long for mom and dad to jump on the bandwagon either.
"They both have jobs but they help out every day anyway. It's a lot of fun that my entire family is so enthusiastic about this, that's my explanation to why it's going so well".


Trains downhill
And it's indeed going well.
After showing that he can keep a win percent as high or even higher than most of the country's best trainers, Oscar Berglund has shown this past summer that he can also beat them at the highest level, V75.
What is it you do to get all this success?
"Many have asked me that and I always give them the same answer. Nobody can do magic, you have to have good stock to work with and good conditions. Then of course there's lots of hard work behind it all. I work from early morning to late at night seven days a week".
'Good conditions' usually means a complete training facility. So what are your training conditions?
"It's nothing fancy at all. There's an old dirt road that we've fixed up together with some neighbours. It's pretty basic but it works and the horses love it".
And you do all your training there?
"Yes. What we use for straight track is a 900 meter long piece of the road with an incline. The difference from the highest point to the lowest is 16 meters. When I started with horses I was taught that you train six intervals, twice a week. It stuck on me and I've done that ever since. We go three times each way".
Even downhill? Thats sounds pretty unusual?
"Yes. I suppose it is. But the horses love it. I've never trained with a heart rate monitor, I don't even know how those work. I just go on how it feels. Normally we go 1:28 to 1:30 speed uphill and a little faster downhill. But I never decide beforehand how fast I will go. It's up to the horses how they feel. The only rule I stick to is that we go a little faster a week before a race and then a little slower right before it".
How many horses are in a set?
"Four at a time. Besides me and my grandfather I also have a couple older guys who've had horses their entire lives helping me out. They do it all voluntary on their part and it's priceless for me so we can get done a lot quicker. You can also tell how much it means for them to get to be around the animals, they really put their souls into it and that what makes it so much fun".


Building a new stable
With twelve horses on his trainers list and a few more on the farm it's despite the amateur license a full time job. And Oscar Berglund can soon put professional trainer on his business card.
"Yes in two weeks i'm going to school for it. I only have the last four weeks left to do. Luckily most of it is held right here at Wången which is only a thirty minute drive from my farm so I can still train my horses. Then we'll see if I swap my license out right away or wait until the ned of the year".
Will you have room for more horses when you become a professional trainer?
"Yes, we're building a new stable with an additional 20 stalls. I know there's an interest among the owners and my goal is to have around 30 horses, I don't want more. To become a big trainer is nothing I dream about, I couldn't do that. I want a smaller stable and keep the quality and atmosphere we have now".
You have two starters on V75 this Saturday, could it be another win for Berglund stable?
"I have high hopes for Quality Tilly who is in top form. The conditions are right for him and this might his big chance to win on V75".
"Etosha Boko is such a nice horse, a dream horse for an amateur to have.  He's the one I bring out when someone comes to visit and wants to try to sit behind a horse. He doesn't really try as hard anymore but I think he'll race well and he can end up in the photo" says Oscar Berglund.


Here's a bit more info on Oscar's two V75 starters.
"9 Quality Tilly (V75-1) came to me this past winter and has developed nicely. Unfortunately he came up sick when he races here at home back in June, but he's come back nicely and raced very well after that. It feels like he's in the best form of his life, he's so much better now than when he was third in first V75 start back in May. He's got a mind of his own and can be grabby before the race, but he feels safe so I don't know his history why hes made so many breaks n the past. Here he's behaved in every start which has to do with him always having a good driver too. He's incredibly strong and wasn't tired last time despite a very tough trip. I've always thought he's not quick enough to win on V75, but if it's ever going to happen it will be this week with his form and the perfect distance. The post position is fine, he's in the two path right away. It's the first time Örjan will drive him and tactics will be up to him but he's a strong horse who is at his best with an even high pace so I don't him being aggressive early. Shoeing and equipment is same as in his last four starts, toe shoes behind, blind bridle and an American sulky. It looks like a race he can win and I'm optimistic".
"7 Etosha Boko (V75-7) is also is very good form and raced well on the front end in his last start when he gave Weekend Fun a tough time. He's extremely quick behind the gate so even if drew a bit far out it's better than a trailing position. But I don't think he can get past Emilia's horse (3 Sign Me Up Too) who should be impossible to beat here? Etosha raced in a goggles bridle last time which is usual equipment with these conditions and will do so again. Emilia said she felt he soured up when she pulled the earplugs though and I've heard that from other drivers too so I'm removing the earplugs this time and race him without them, which will be first time for me. I think he's best when following horses so a pocket trip would be optimal for him, but if he ends up on the front end and is as sharp as in his last start I don't mind seeing him there either. He trotted a low 1:11 time and he could possibly take some off of that too. He doesn't win that often but with the right trip he could end up second or third in here. We raced him with to shoes upfront in his last start and that worked out well so we'll go with that again plus the American sulky that he always races in".