ANNIKE BYE HANSEN
Skoganstallen sweeps 5 awards
Leading role: Hard One To Please
Poster girl: I Rest My Case, of course!
28 Jan 22: The annual awards ceremony, when Norwegian thoroughbred racing celebrates last year's champions, became a night to remember for Annike's great team. Hard One To Please, a dead cert to grab the headlines once again, picked up no fewer than three awards; Horse of The Year, Three-year-old of The Year and Stayer of The Year, while I Rest My Case was handed the award as Best Homebred of The Year. To top it off Annike was handed the Achievement of The Year award. Five awards to our excellent stable. While I Rest My Case saw off a couple of lively challengers in her division, Hard One To Please was lengths clear in his categories – just like he was in his two impressive Derby winning performances.
Takeko (filly & mare division), as well as General de Vega and Youonlyliveonce (both the sprint division) were also nominated but had to settle for minor honours on the night. The ceremony and dinner was held at Thon Hotel Oslofjord i Sandvika on Saturday evening, with these winners announced; Hard One To Please (Horse of The Year, 3yo of The Year, Stayer of The Year), I Rest My Case (Norwegian bred), Master Zone (2yo of The Year), Could Be King (Sprinter), Duca di Como (Miler), Ascot Brass (Filly & Mare), Canmore (Handicapper).
Hard One To Please – Horse of the Year
Last year's undisputed star in Scandinavia, Hard One To Please, was voted 2022 Horse of The Year in Norway, a title that was never in much doubt. What was, however, was his prospects of landing the odds in the Stockholm Cup International (G3), a race where he looked a certain loser turning for home – only to produce a tremendous finish and get up to beat the English challenger Outbox in a thrilling photo finish. That must have been one of the most exciting races of the season. Hard One To Please showed us a new dimension that day, as he proved that not only did he have the talent to get himself out of trouble, but also that he was well equipped for a street fight.
Landing a punch is one thing, and he had seen him doing that to some effect, but being able to take a punch is quite different. Some highly talented runners have been lacking in that department, many because they had become too accustomed to winning with ease. Not Hard One To Please. He knuckled down gamely as he was chasing the leaders coming down the home straight at Bro Park, and he found another gear in the closing stages. It was as easy as his two classic wins, in the Swedish Derby and the Norwegian Derby, both won comfortably. Actually, that's not quite right. His winning run at Jägersro, where he proved himself on dirt, did ask a lot more of him than his stroll back on turf in Norway, and perhaps it was a valuable learning experience. He came from off the pace to win the Swedish Derby by 2 measured lengths from Steinar, with the rest a long way further back. Steinar went on to win big himself next time out and it was rather obvious what horse they all had to beat when we came to the Norwegian Derby in late August. Derby Trial winner Pas de Faux had his supporters and was backed as as if he would have a serious chance, but looking at the formbook one might say “really?” The answer out of the course was an emphatic “not at all”. Hard One To Please, who had been ridden by Oliver Wilson in the Swedish Derby but now had Jacob Johansen on board, absolutely trounced his rivals to win by 14 lengths. Pas de Faux was outstayed by the fily Sea Lodge for second as the two Neuroth trainees filled out the trippel. The runner-up went on to win the Danish Oaks two weeks later. That result made the Norwegian Derby form a bit easier to assess, it was undoubtedly the best seen amongst the three-year-olds in Scandinavia.
The next test would be a lot more informative. Hard One To Please was being pointed at the Stockholm Cup International (G3) at Bro Park in September, when he would be facing older horses. The Cup, often billed as Scandinavia's 'Arc', drew a solid field of 15 runners. Amongst them was the German trained Virginia Storm, who had run third to Prix de l'Arc winner Torquator Tasso and second to German Derby runner-up Alter Adler at home. Virginia Storm's best form made him one to fear. Then we had Outbox, flying the English flag for a second time at Bro Park, having run such a good second in the 2021 edition of the Stockholm Cup, Oslo Cup (G3) winner Quebello and local hero Espen Hill. Ulf Zeider, one of the best judges of form in Sweden, gave this prediction in his racecard preview; Hard One To Please first, Outbox second, Virginia Storm third. He wasn't far wrong. Virginia Storm ran no sort of a race and finished second last, running as if something was amiss, while Hard One To Please pipped Outbox to win by a nose. Master Bloom, like Outbox another horse to have been placed in a previous edition of the event, ran third, while Quebello took fourth.
His win at Bro Park, where he was partnered by Pat Cosgrave, gave Hard One To Please a unique treble; the Swedish Derby on dirt, the Norwegian Derby over the undulating and testing course at Øvrevoll, and the Stockholm Cup at Bro Park, a flat, more US-style oval. Will this treble ever be repeated? It may, but it's probably long odds-on that he won't happen anytime soon. Väsby Häst AB's top performer is an unusually versatile performer, and a well deserving Horse of The Year. His 2023 campaign could be really exciting, though there will be no more cruising runs against his own age group only. The gloves will come off more than once in 2023, as he takes aim at the top races in Scandinavia. Those with similar aspirations have one thing in common; they all know that they will be up against a true champion. GS 290123
STABELL TALK 2023 /
GEIR STABELL's horse by horse presentation of Annike's high class team for the 2023 campaign - with articles posted weekly leading up to the new season. These horse bios, posted in reverse alphabetical order, can also be found on the horse pages.
Homebred of The Year
I Rest My Case - she's the poster girl
Presenting the winner of the award as Best Homebred of The Year in 2022; I Rest My Case, Skoganstallen's popular poster girl.
I Rest My Case earned more prize money than any other horse in running in Norway last year, when she won the valuable Drømmemilen on Derby, picking up 312,000 kroner after what looked like a racecourse gallop, and the historic Brukseier Eivind Lyches Minneløp – an important event for homebred horses. She was also runner-up in the Breeders' Prize, Skandinavisk Mesterskap and against imports in the Derby Trial, a performance that posed the question “should she go for the Derby?”. Well, she didn't – instead taking in the mile race on Derby day, which she won with ridiculous ease, cantering home by 15 ¼ lengths from No Compromise. It was as hard to assess the value of this form as it was not to be impressed by the performance. I Rest My Case won the race with such ease and it would have taken a very good horse to keep up with her on this occasion.
Her win in Lyches Minneløp was also a bit of a stroll, as she outclassed her rivals to win the 1980-metres turf contest by 5 ¼ lengths. Buckybelle finished second, and Queen of Antaktis filled third place, beaten almost nine lengths. This was also a case of I Rest My Case being far too good for her rivals.
She was being tested against better performers though, and ran solid races to be placed in important events. She was second to Hear The Drums in the Skandinavisk Mesterskap for 3yos in July, going down by a neck at the end of a hotly contested race over 1800 metres / turf. Semper Fi was 1 ½ lengths behind her in third, with Sugar Crust fourth. The Derby Trial, run in early August, meant a step up in distance + a clash with good imports. The trip, 2160 metres, did not get the better of I Rest My Case, she stayed all right, but Pas de Faux did. He beat her by 3 lenghts and soon became many people's idea of the 2022 Derby winner. As we know, Hard One To Please had other ideas, but Pas de Faux did frank the Derby Trial form by running third in the Derby – after having been committed far too soon.
Derby day results thus underscored the fact that I Rest My Case was a homebred somewhat out of the ordinary. Such horses are bound to end up in the top races for Scandinavian breds, and I Rest My Case next shipped to Bro Park, to contest the 15-runner Breeders' Trophy Classic. Things had gone pretty smoothly in her previous races but that was not the case at Bro Park, where she faced an impossible task after a very slow start. She stayed on gamely in the home straight but was beaten by five of her rivals. Titannia, the Danish Derby winner, came out on top, beating Giant Fortune narrowly. I Rest My Case passed the winning post 3 ½ lengths behind the winner. Compared to Titannia, who made all, I Rest My Case's start loss was about twice that margin. Her next run, in the Breeders' Prize Classic back home, was better – but also a bit unfortunate – as she ended up on the wrong side of the course when delivering her challenge. Hear The Drums beat her by a length and I Rest My Case was a quarter of a length in front of the third placed runner, Chianti. Good Fortune finished fourth and Titannia disappointed to came home third last.
I Rest My Case rounded her season off in the Norwegian Oaks, run in mid-October. She went off second favourite behind Sea Lodge, who had run second in the Derby. On paper, the classic looked like a two-horse affair, but 18-1 shot Crack The Sky upset the two leading contenders to win from the front. It was an excellent winning ride by Per-Anders Gråberg. Sea Lodge beat I Rest My Case by a neck for second.
What can we expect from I Rest My Case in 2023? It's dangerous to have too high expectations, as her four-year-old campaign must be altogether different to 2022. There will be opporunities in races for Scandinavian breds, but not as many as these horses enjoy when they are three, and I Rest My Case will have to step up against imports. Stakes events for fillies and mares are well worth considering, although the official handicapper has I Rest My Case 8kg below Ascot Brass, 6kg below Iron Butterfly and Silent Night, and 5kg below Takeko. There's a gap to close there, no doubt, but don't be too surprised if I Rest My Case proves to be up to it. GS 290123
Classy, multi talented
Takeko - coming off strong season
Takeko enjoyed a productive season in 2022, stepping up nicely on her form as a three-year-old in 2021. when she was runner-up in the Norwegian 1,000 Guineas and won the Giant Sandman Cup. Her four-year-old exploits were even better, with the peak performance coming when she landed the Margareta Wettermarks Minneslöping on Swedish Derby day at Jägersro. Switching to dirt, after having finished second to Iron Butterfly when making her seasonal debut in the Nagell-Erichsens Hoppeløp at home and filled the same place behind Ascot Brass in the Bloomers' Vase (LR) at Bro Park, Takeko proved much too good for her nine rivals in the 1730-metres long Wettermarks. She stayed on strongly at the finish and won most comfortably by 2 lengths from Thunderey, who beat Numeira by a head for second. Aperola occupied fourth place, beaten 7 lengths by Takeko, and the entire field was strung out to the tune of almost 25 lengths.
Continuing as a regular player in the top division for fillies and mares, Takeko failed to win again but he ran solid races in defeat, and was arguably a bit unlucky when beaten a neck by Go On Calras in the Stockholm Fillies & Mares Stakes over 2100 metres / turf at Bro Park in October. She returned to Jägersro the following month and produced another game performance on the dirt track, taking third in the Jockeyklubbens Avelslöpning, beaten 3 lengths behind the smart winner Scarlett.
Takeko ended 2022 with over half a million kroner in earnings, thus climbing up to 790,475 kroner earned from 14 runs since she joined Annike's stable ahead of the 2021-season. She now has a half-sister, Yukochan, among her stable companions, and both these fillies seem likely to make a mark on the upcoming campaign. Takeko's class is undeniable and that she is just as good on dirt as she is on turf, is a big plus. Her programme as a five-year-old is more or less self explanatory, as she is likely to be seen in much the same events she ran in last year. Her results have naturally enhanced the value of her family and there was more good news for the dam, Ahd, last year. Her 2016-son by Zofanny, the Listed winner Hot Team, won twice in England, bringing his tally to six wins, and her 2017-daughter by Footstepsinthesand, One Small Step, won for a third time in Ireland. This family is full of winners and it's hard to imagine that there won't be more to come. GS 050223
She's a real bonus
Tambora Queen stays in training, that's good!
Keeping Tambora Queen in the stable for another season must be seen a very nice bonus. Not because she is likely to win a Group race in 2023, but simply because it must have been so tempting for her owners, Stall RH, to retire this fine mare to the paddocks – or for a commercial breeder to buy her and do the same. Her days in the breeding should come, no doubt about that, but not quite yet. This daughter of Breeders' Cup winner Outstrip has been an excellent servant over the past couple of seasons, with a current record of 4 wins from 24 outings.
Two of her wins came in 2022, when she managed the unusual feat to win handicaps as early on in the season as April and as late on as November. Not many horses manage to show winning form both in the spring and in the autumn, especially handicappers. It is more common for such a thoroughbred to have one good spell, either in the first couple of months of the campaign, in the middle part, or late on in the racing year. Actually, developing and campaigning horses that are competitive all season long has been one of Annike's strongest qualities. She had Tambora Queen ready for the Amolo Handicap over 1600 metres / dirt on opening day, and the race was won by 4 ½ lengths - a great start, not just for Tambora Queen but for the entire team. It was the beginning to a season to remember, as she outclassed race favourite My French Dream with some ease. Tambora Queen was racing off 79 on her reappearance, and that was her handicap mark also when she rounded the season off with a win in the Funinthesand Handicap over 1750 metres over the same track in mid-November. This was not a similar stroll though. Once more ridden by Jacob Johansen, she fought on to the winning post to prevail by half a length after having been hard pressed by Buckyboy. Interestingly, My French Dream was third, beaten 3 ½ lengths while receiving 2kg from Tambora Queen. She was giving that same rival 3kg when the met seven months earlier.
Her November win meant that Tambora Queen was raised to handicap 81 in the end of season rankings, which is 2kg below her career best, recorded after her visually impressive debut. She made the frame five times in between these two successes, performing well both on turf and dirt. Dirt racing may be what suits her best but, if at all, she's not far behind her dirt form when racing on the lawn. She captured the valuable Energima Derby Mile over 1600 metres on turf in 2021, absolutely hammering the strongly fancied Yellow Submarine by 5 lengths. Her runner-up was odds-on to win the contest, having performeed so well to be third behind Iron Butterfly and Takeko in the Norwegian 1,000 Guineas on her previous outing, but she had no chance when Tambora Queen quickened away at the business end of the Derby Mile.
Can Tambora Queen follow up this year, as she is now aged five? There's every reason to believe that she can. She ended '22 on a high note and she has clearly been thriving on her racing. Many horses step up another notch at five. The late Charlie Whittingham was one of the first to argue that horses are at their best when they are five years old, and that it is wrong to push them hard when they are young. It has also been interesting to note how well five-year-olds have fared in European Group races over the years. Tambora Queen's breeding gives mixed messages when it comes to how she may develop as older horse, though nothing suggests that her current age will work against her. Her sire, Outstrip, was first and foremost a precocious runner but his most famous son, Melbourne Cup (G1) winner Gold Trip, definitely improved with age – taking the famous 2-mile handicap at Flemington when he was six. Tambora Queen is out of the unraced Dudley Queen, an Excellent Art mare that has also produced Poet's Dawn, a winner of eight races, including two aged seven last season.
Roar Hoel purchased Tambora Queen for just 14,000 guineas as a yearling at Tattersalls Sales in Newmarket - another example of how it is possible to recruit talented runners within a sensible budget. There must be breeders wishing they had bought her, and now keeping an eye of this mare but, as mentioned initially, 'not quite yet'. GS 310123
Full brother to Good Fortune
27 Jan 23: Bred to be special, Left U Speechless - who will be joining Annike's team along with another youngster in Run For Justice next March - is a colt likely to get a lot of attention when his racing career gets underway. His brother Good Fortune won the Breeders' Trophy Classic as a three-year-old, when he beat Iron Butterfly, and he followed up with another valuable win when landing the Breeders' Trophy Mile as a four-year-old and opened his 2023 campaign by winning a valuable handicap at Meydan in Dubai. Good Fortune, who has 9 wins from 17 starts and total earnings of over 3.3 million kroner, is trained by Søren Jensen in Denmark, where Left U Speechless was bought by Väsby Häst at the Scandinavian Open Yearling Sales in September.
This well bred colt is a son of Scandinavian Champion Appel Au Maitre, who won 12 races, including Marit Sveaas Minneløp (G3), Stockholm Cup International (G3) - twice -, Stockholm Stora Pris (G3), the Swedish Derby (LR) and the Norwegian Derby.
Left U Speechless's dam Eko Palace Bay was unraced but quickly became a success at stud. She is also the dam of Aperola, a full sister to Good Fortune who won 8 races and was placed several times in stakes company. Her finest wins came in the Future Stars and Produce Stakes. (1st posted 15 Dec 22)
Youonlyliveonce - versatile and consistent
A son of the little known sire Sidesteps (a dual Group 2 winning son of top class sprinter Exceed And Excel), Youonlyliveonce took another step up in 2022. Going up against the fastest turf performers in Scandinavia on a couple of occasions, he fared well enough to be nominated in the Sprinter of The Year category – alongside his stable companion General de Vega and Could Be King. Just to be mentioned with these two stars was some achievement for Youonlyliveonce, who improved his best handicap rating from 86 in 2021 to 89 last year. It's when horses start creeping up towards the crucial 90-mark that the going gets really tough. Such performers will often be burdened by top weights in handicaps and thus forced to run against the elite on conditions events and stakes races. Youonlyliveonce won twice during our most recent campaign, but his best run was probably when he grabbed second behind Could Be King in the Giant Sandman Polar Cup (LR) at Øvrevoll in August. One of the strong undercard events on Derby day, the Polar Cup, contested over 1370 metres, represented a step up in class for Youonlyliveonce. He took it all in his stride, and came home as a game runner-up. He could never pose a serious threat to the favourite, who beat him by 2 ¾ lengths at level weights, but Youonlyliveonce had some smart performers well behind him and suddenly Väsby Häst had two high class sprinters on their hands. He was not able to reproduce the form in the Bro Park Sprint Championship (LR) in September (finished eighth, 6 lengths behind Could Be King) but he gained another Listed placing when third in the one-mile Arnifinn Lunds Minneløp back on home soil in October. Like A King captured that event from Wishformore.
Youonlyliveonce's main assets are his consistency and versatility. He kept his form well to the end of the season, winning a handicap over 1730 metres on the dirt track 18 days after the Arnfinn Lunds. Running off 88, he was conceding weight all round and ran out a game winner from Monjazaat, with Tambora Queen third and We Got The Boss fourth. Of the race's total pot of 80,000 kroner, 66,400 went to horses trained at Skoganstallen. Looking at the form of the one that denied Annike a clean sweep, we see that Monjazaat is no slouch. She has three wins to her name and was beaten just a neck when second to Flambeau Rouge in the 2021 Norwegian Oaks. Giving Monjazaat 3kg, Youonlyliveonce beat her by half a length. He wasn't done yet, however. Three and a half weeks further into the autumn, he turned up for a competitive mile handicap on the dirt track at Jägersro Galopp, and finished second, beaten less than two lengths by Plantstepsdream. This was Youonlyliveonce's 13th start in 2022. He finished in the top three on no fewer than nine occasions. His first win of the year came in a sprint handicap on the turf course in early June, a race he won narrowly from Herewegodandy.
With strong form both on turf and dirt, and proven from 1170 metres to 1600 metres, this six-year-old still has many options and, although he meets the season on a handicap mark that makes things a notch more difficult, there's no reason to doubt that Youonlyliveonce can do well also in 2023. GS 230123
Half a head from being a winner
Yukochan - ready to step up at three
Given how her famous half-sister Takeko improved from two to three, it's fair to assume that Yukochan can improve in 2023 - though will she be as good as Takeko? That, as they say, remains to be seen - but the way she shaped as a juvenile suggests that she is one to look forward to seeing race on. She is a maiden, but that's down to bad luck, not for want of trying. In fact, this filly has yet to finish worse than second. She was beaten half a head coming up against Stripeof Stars when making her second start last November, tackling 1600 metres on the dirt track. The two had the race between them through the final furlong and, as Yukochan ran a bit greenly, her rival's experience probably became the telling factor. That said, the photo could have gone either way and who wouldn't fancy Yukochan in a rematch? Stripesof Stars was the odds-on favourite, having run second, beaten just two lengths behind Ami de Vega, in the Norsk Kriterium on his previous outing. Flower Power, who checked in a length and a half behind Yukochan in third place, had also won previously, and the form looked good.
Yukochan turned out once more before the season came to a close, taking part in a similar contest eleven days later. She was sent off as a narrow favourite and ran another fine race, though her market rival, Chadwick, proved too good, denying her by open lengths. It's hard to know which of these two performances was the better. It may have been the run against Stripesof Stars but note that Chadwick was coming off a fifth place finish in Vinterfavoriternas Pris at Bro Park, a race won by the smart Got A Lot from Cotton Eye Joe, another high class youngster based in Sweden. Either way, Yukochan ought to be strongly fancied were she to stick to maiden company early in the 2023-season. After that, we shall she how she can progress. All of her runs in 2022 came on dirt (she was runner-up to Soulofchess over 1100 metres on her debut) and it will be interesting to see her on turf. GS 230111
Two new recruits
Interesting youngsters transferred
07 Jan 23: Two lightly raced three-year-old fillies have joined Annike's team; Djamila, formerly trained by Cathrine Erichsen, and Hwin, handled by Raphael Freire last year, are well bred, interesting newcomers at Skoganstallen. Djamila (Evasive) is a half-sister to champion homebred juvenile Purple Ace, while Hwin (Sir Lando) is a half-sister to I Rest My Case - one of our stars in 2022, when she became the top earner in Norway. These two fillies are both maidens, Hwin having raced twice and Djamila having raced just once. They will be presented in depth in the upcoming Stabell Notes series - in preparation for the 2023-season.
Click photos to enlarge
Five horses nominated to
Horse of The Year Awards
The date is now set. Saturday, January 28 - that's when the excellent Horse of The Year awards dinner and ceremony will be held, and with some strong contenders in the mix we wouldn't like you to miss it. Five of the stable's 12 currently active 2022 runners have been nominated. Skoganstallen seems to be the stable of champions.
Racing dates 2023
The winter is upon us, the 2022 season is in the books over, but work never stops at Skoganstallen, where 2023 is already very much in focus. Racing resumes on April 20, a Thursday evening fixture that will be the first of 31 racing dates at Øvrevoll in 2023. Pick up the full fixture list by clicking the poster on the right.
2022 season - facts and figures
Top earners, top strike rate,
best average earnings
Annike Bye Hansen finished second in the 2022 trainers' standings, with 16 winners, 18 runners-up and 8 third place finishers from 75 starters. The stable generated total domestic earnings of NOK. 2,775,249. As many as 56% of all starters saddled by Annike finished in the first three and the stable's win strike rate was an impressive 21.3%, better than any other trainer with more than ten starters during the season. Average earnings per start, NOK 37,003, was also markedly the best return of all trainers with more than ten starters.
The stable's total Scandinavian earnings were close to 5.6 million.
I Rest My Case became the highest earning horse in Norway in 2022, with NOK 775,849 from eight runs. She just edged out her stable companion Hard One To Please on this list, as his domestic earnings were NOK 725,000 from four runs. Hard One To Please would probably get most votes if we decided to crown a Scandinavian Horse of The Year though, and perhaps it's about time to get those Scandinavian stats back up and running? With two easy Derby wins and a gutsy success in the Stockholm Cup International (G3), he earned NOK 2,812,764 all told – and he also became the highest earner in Sweden this year. His fellow Väsby Häst flag bearer Youonlyliveonce sits in tenth place on the list of top earners in Norway this year, with NOK. 322,600 from 11 starts that yielded 2 wins and six other top three efforts. GS
Top earners - Norway 2022