He beat Odd Herakles fair and square and took over the coldblood throne.
Gunnar Melander has once again produced a coldblood king – and now Månlykke A.M. is going for five in a row as he will be the big favorite on V75®.
"It's no easy task starting with a 40 meter handicap, but we want to win. And it has gone well so far" says Melander.
Saturday's V75 is being raced in Östersund and and in the colblood race we once again get to see the new king. Månlykke A.M. has has been very successful for Gunnar Melander. So far he has won eight out of twelve starts for Gunnar who in a long and successful career has trained several of top trotters. Back in the 80s Lapp Nils was a well known horse on V65 and he won 97 out of 184 starts. He was a winning machine who often was handicapped and had to start way behind the rest of the field and he almost every time rounded the entire field.
"Lapp Nils was a fantastic horse. He was a physical phenomenon who had incredible strength. He was an extraordinary horse who wanted to win at all costs. If there was a chance when we turned for home he would give it his all" says Gunnar Melander.
The big star in present days is of course Månprinsen A.M. who won 71 out of 112 starts but who had to be euthanized when he became dangerous to handle. Melander has also trained star trotters like Stellbarr and Månjahn, just to name a couple.
"I have said that I'm quitting for 15 years"
Gunnar Melander, 74, says himself that he is training horses on overtime.
"I have said for 15 years now that I'm quitting and I had made plans for retiring. But I love training and racing horses and as long as I'm good enough it's a lot of fun" says Gunnar who runs a six horse stable outside Bollnäs.
"I've been fortunate to train many good horses throughout the years. But I still think it's a lot of fun and to be able to have such a fantastic horse like Månlykke A.M. at my age feels incredible".
What did you feel in him when you got the horse in training last year?
"He hadn't functioned properly and he was turned out when he came to me. He hadn't gotten any real winter training that winter so I started training him back. But the horse has been positive all along for me and he has surprised me over time. I felt early thaty he was a good horse, but I could never imagine he would be this good".
"Going into this year he got a winter of solid training and he stayed healthy. I've had a good relationship with the owner and I've been able to setup his schedule the way I wanted it. That makes it extra fun when he turned out to be this good. It's fantastic that he's been able to develop like this" says Melander.
Beat Odd Herakles on the outside without being emptied
Månlykke A.M. is undefeated in four starts this year and especially when he defeted the mighty Odd Herakles two starts ago at Bergsåker was a special moment for Gunnar Melander.
"That was fantastic. I had never expected him to beat Odd Herakles from post eleven. My horse spent the entire race parked out and won in a good way without having to be emptied. He has won easily in every start this year and has raced great without having to go all out. I have to say that it's been a surprise even for me that he has been this good".
"In his last start at Åby he also raced very well. I didn't mean to go that fast at the end, but when I gave him the reins the last 400 meters he just took off. So I thought I have to let him keep going and not slowing down at the end. Horses easily develop bad habits if you let them slow down at the end and then they can do it against good horses when they think they're home free. So it's better to maintain the speed across the finish line".
How has he felt in training aft that start?
"He feels very good and has done so the entire time. I think he feels even better and looser with these starts in his legs. That's how it ususaly is, when the horses don't have to go all out they improve with each start. I have no complaints" says Gunnar Melander.
"I guess it's all up to the driver"
Månlykke A.M. will be the huge favorite in the second leg of V75, starting with a 40 meter handicap. Despite the double handicap trainer Melander is optimistic and thinks he can win again with his star trotter.
"It's always tough with a 40 meter handicap and having to go around the entire field. It's no easy task but I have a very good horse in good form. All signs tell me he will race well and I guess it's all up to the driver. But I have to beleive in him and we want to win. And it has gone well so far" says Gunnar.
Any equipment or shoeing changes planned?
"No changes. He races with set earplugs and shoes so we have some extra gears saved for later. He has nice feet so sometime when the time is right he will race barefoot".