V86: Last dance with the superstar

On Wednesday Fredrik Fransson will send out the winning machine Odd Herakles to race for the last time.
The goal is to get revenge on Månlykke A.M. and decide who is the best horse.
"It will be lots of fun. My horse is a second and a half better than when they last raced against each other, so we will see if it's enough" says Frasse.

It started awkwardly. 
Odd Herakles hadn't lost a race in 18 months and came with 20 straight wins when he made his first start for trainer Fredrik Fransson at Bergsåker in April. 
Among the opponents were however Månlykke A.M. The horse who in Gunnar Melander's training has developed into the best coldblood in Sweden and now got to take on the Norwegian phantom. 
It ended with victory for the challenger as Månlykke brought down his giant opponent the hard way. 
But since then everything has gone perfectly for Fransson and Herakles. 
A fantastic performance in Elitkampen at Solvalla showed that the king was as good as ever before and after that, the victory parade has continued in big races in Finland, Norway and Sweden this summer. 
"It's been magical. He has trotted under 1:20 in four straight starts, no other coldblood has ever done that before" says Fransson who got the call to train Odd Herakles as he also manages a breeding farm. 
"That's his real job here, with us. Racing has actually been secondary. And he has done great, his book is closed at 70 Swedish mares and some Norwegian ones. He's a fantastic individual and it's been great working with him". 
"Kept a low profile"
The initial plan was that the 'secondary' job would be over after Bollnästravets Elitsprint and that Odd Herakles would focus on fulfilling his duties as a stallion before returning home to his owners in Norway. 
But they decided to make one more start. At Östersund on Wednesday on the night of the coldblood Derby finals. 
It was no secret that Månlykke A.M. would go out there, but it was a surprise to many when they saw Odd Herakles in the start list. 
"Yes, we kept a low profile about that. But I thought it could be fun to make another start with him. That we get to race against Månlykke once again makes it extra fun".
Are you thirsty for revenge?
"I wouldn't say that, but of course I want to win the race. And I know that my horse is much better now than when they last raced each other in April. Odd Herakles raced with shoes that time and I said already then that he is half a second better barefoot. He then trotted 1:21.6, I think he could trot under 1:20 if the race gets set perfectly up for us. But I have the utmost respect for all the opponents, not only for Månlykke". 
Essential duties in the morning
But the fact is that you have to consider another variable this time, besides the barefoot factor. Odd Herakles will not be preparing for the start on Wednesday the way he usually does.
Before making the trip to Östersund, he has to do his regular day job, on the phantom. 
"This will be the first time he jumps on the phantom on a race day. It's nothing that I had planned, but we always collect him Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That's the reason he is here and that's nothing we can change just because it's on a race day. This time, there happens to be a race on the same day and that's that". 
What does that mean for a stallion as far as the performance on the track goes?
"It could mean a lot. To jump on the phantom is a lot of stress physically, but more so mentally. The stallions react very differently. For some, it takes a lot of energy and they get stressed. While some, Like Odd Herakles, are very calm throughout the entire process. I have raced horses with this setup before and some have been very lazy in the race while some have gotten a kick out of it and have raced great". 
How do you think Odd Herakles will react?
"You never know. But he definitely has the right mentality to handle it right. I have other stallions that I would never do this with, but with Herakles I feel confident". 
Is there a risk of him being 20 meters better or worse than usual?
"Yes, it can be more than that. It can have a huge impact on performance. But we won't know until he's in the race". 
Can you see in the warm up which way it might go?
"I don't think so. He's not a warm up winner, at least not at low speed. But Solberg (Tom Erik) likes to make some speed in the warm up, so then you could take a look. When Mats E Djuse warmed him up in Finland, he trotted 1:12 speed for 200 meters. If he trots that fast on Wednesday, I would take that as a good sign". 
Are you making any other changes, except for the race day routine?
"No, he will get the same training as he has prior to the other starts and he will race with the same equipment".
Gives out two Derby winners
The showdown between the two best colblood trotters is not the feature of the night at Östersund, however. That would be the finals of the Swedish Colblood Derby and the Mares Colblood Derby where a king and a queen of the breed will be crowned among the four-year-olds. 
As an acknowledged coldblood trainer, Fredrik Fransson will act handicapper and predict the outcome of the Derby finals. 
"Then I will pick 3 Tangen Bork (V86-5) and 2 Hopp Karoline (V86-3). 
The first prize is SEK 700,000 in the open class and SEK 400,000 for the mares. 
The winner of Sven O Perssons Minne will receive SEK 150,000. 
For Odd Herakles that would mean that he surpasses SEK 10 million in earnings and takes place in a very exclusive club in coldblood history.