The single biggest reason why Dennis Palmqvist and Rebecca Dahlén have been so successful since the start is spelled Minnestads El Paso.
The horse has earned over SEK 500,000 three years in a row and he has to find a way back to that form to be able to match those numbers in 2021. A good stepping stone would be to win on V86 on Wednesday.
“He trains the way he did when he raced on top, but it’s been a long time since he raced real well and I want him to show us that before I can wholeheartedly believe in him again” says trainer Dennis Palmqvist.
Minnestads El Paso has been an ongoing story on V75 as he has climbed through the classes and 19 starts in the Premier League of trotting has taken him all the way up to the gold division. He was very impressive last spring when he finished second to Tae Kwan Deo in Örebro a few weeks before Elitloppet and followed that up trotting 1:10.0/1,609 meters in Gävle the week before Elitloppet. That wasn’t enough to give him a spot on the last Sunday in May at Solvalla, but it took him to Jämtlands Stora Pris two weeks later, which didn’t turn out so well.
“He was suffering from something in that start at Östersund and we actually never got him back to that form again after that start. That’s why the most important thing on Wednesday is that he finishes the race well and shows that he still has that fighting spirit”.
“Everything feels good in training and we are hopeful but we don’t want to take anything for granted” says Dennis Palmqvist carefully.
Unsuccessful trip to France
Minnestads El Paso most recent performances don’t look too impressive in the program and a lot has gone wrong lately.
“We gave him a break after that start in Östersund and got him ready for France. We gave him a start at Hagmyren before we shipped him to France and the plan was to get him in form with that start, but it had the opposite effect on him”’.
“That race turned out to be pretty tough and it didn’t go as planned, which meant he didn’t get back in form in France as we hoped. He lacked the right spirit and even if he was OK in some start, the whole trip was unsuccessful” says Dennis.
“Biggest mistake of her career”
So instead of making more starts in France, the horse was shipped back home to Sweden to start the winter training early and the hope is now that this will get Minnestads El Paso back in top form.
“He has done heavy training in the pressure cart during his time away from the racetrack and we’ve also trained him 1:22 once before his recent return at Östersund. Everything went wrong in that start, but it wasn’t the horse’s fault”.
“Rebecca said after that start that she made the biggest mistake of her career. She’s a blacksmith and usually a very good one, but she misread the track completely in his last start and he was unable to grab the track at all”.
“He couldn’t leave at all and then it turned out to be a strange race with a very slow middle half. As they sped up again he was just slipping and had no chance keeping up” says the now Gävle licensed trainer.
Effort more important than the result
Due to that, the horse never got the chance to show where he’s at form wise in Östersund and that’s the answer the connections are looking for in the last leg of V86 on Wednesday where Minnestads El Paso starts in the second tier behind the gate.
“He’s not that lucky with the draw when we enter to some bigger races. Sure last time in Östersund he had post position two, but then it was just a six horse field and it didn’t matter anyway”.
“Now we’re back in the second tier and since the effort is more important than the result this time we’ll just have to see how it turns out. Keep in mind that he races well with any trip and it feels like he came out of that last start well. He feels very alert and sharp in training going into this start” says Dennis.
The race on Wednesday is closed at SEK 2.1 million lifetime and that means the top open trotters are not in the race, thankfully.
“Starting in the second tier and the fact that it’s a pretty tough race makes me lay low but on the other hand the condition of the race fits him very well. There aren’t that many races for him which aren’t free for all so from that point of view it looks promising”.
“Looking at the race it feels like there will be plenty of speed since many of the horses in the first tier seem to be looking for the lead and he really needs to move his legs if he’s going to have a chance to win this”.
“We will go back to the pull down bridle this time after racing him open in his last start and we are also taking his PG-shoes off and we’re putting aluminum shoes on him instead. He has shown that he’s good enough to compete against this type of horses but he needs racing luck if he’s going to have any chance here” says Palmqvist about his chances.
Impressive last time
Also making the trip to Solvalla is Bazinga Cheri, racing in the sixth race which is also the last leg of V5.
“She has made three starts for us now and in her last start she got the first win. She has raced in cheap races but the way she won her last start was impressive. She had to do a lot of the work herself and it was nice to see that she showed that kind of fighting spirit. I also want to say that Carl Johan Jepson drove her perfectly”.
“She finished well in her first start for us too and I think she’s ready to take on this type of competition” says Dennis who looks forward to an interesting Wednesday at the capital track.