How Popular Is Horse Racing In Sweden?

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Horse racing in Sweden has roots stretching back to 1814 when the first races were organized in Gothenburg to celebrate a royal visit. 

The sport then took a bit of a siesta, with a significant hiatus until the establishment of the Patriotic Association of Horse Culture in 1831, which saw the resurgence of racing in Stockholm and Skane. 

Fast forward to 1890, and the Swedish Jockey Club took the reins, governing the sport until 1959 when Swedish Galop stepped in.

The Swedish Racing Staple

Now, let’s trot into the heart of Swedish horse racing: trotting, or ‘trav’ as it’s locally known. This style of racing, where horses pull a two-wheeled cart with a driver, is a cultural icon in Sweden. 

It’s so popular that it has its own dedicated TV channel! With 33 tracks peppered across the country, including iconic venues like Solvalla in Stockholm, trotting is more than a sport; it’s a reflection of the Swedish lifestyle, embodying a leisurely pace and tactical nuance.

The Thoroughbred Scene

Thoroughbred racing, while smaller in scale, is still a significant part of Sweden’s equine passion. With approximately 900 Thoroughbreds in training and a prize fund of around €6 million, the industry is thriving. Bro Park Racecourse, located near Stockholm, is a hub for this scene, drawing crowds of over 10,000 since its opening in 2016.

Popular Race Tracks, Races, and Horse Racing Climate

Harness racing (most popular in Sweden) takes place on 33 tracks around the country and is mostly for the trotting gait.

Trotters and those who deal with them are an integral element of Swedish life. Racedays are well-attended, and betting via the ATG betting agency is particularly popular.

Racing takes place throughout the country, especially in the extreme north; one of the ATG’s Ten Major Races for 2022 is the Norbottens Stora Pris, held in the midnight sun in Boden, Sweden’s northernmost racecourse.

The Elitloppet is Sweden’s most well-known race, which takes place in Stockholm’s Solvalla racetrack. Curiously, just like the Kentucky Derby in the USA, this race happens in May. And the champions enjoy the same national glory and fame as the Kentucky Derby winners. The winner is determined following two qualifying rounds and a final on the same day.

The first prize is 3 million Swedish Kronor (about $330,000), making it one of the world’s most famous trotting events. Four North American-trained horses have won, including champions Mack Lobell, Billyjojimbob, and Moni Maker. Other significant winners are Varenne, Victory Tilly, Timoko, and Roquepine.

Solvalla, a 1000m (approximately five furlongs) track, also hosts the Jubileumspokalen, a one-mile race for 5-year-olds in August that is one of Sweden’s Ten Major Races, and the Swedish Trotting Criterium for 3-year-olds in September.

Another major location is Aby, located on the outskirts of Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city. Aby is also a 1000m track, with significant races including the Paralympiatravert (2140m, little less than 1 3/8 miles) in May and the Aby Stora Pris (3140m, over two miles) in mid-August.

The other main Swedish track is Jagersro, near the southern city of Malmo, which holds the Hugo Abergs Memorial in July and the Swedish Trotting Derby in September. Sweden also has its own Breeders’ Crown competition, which culminates with four finals in November in Eskilstuna, west of Stockholm.

From this, we can safely say that Sweden actually has a good horse racing climate, even though it is not the first country that comes to mind when speaking of horse racing. Additionally, harness racing is one of the most popular sports in the country with thousands of fans.

A Level Playing Field

Sweden prides itself on being one of the most equal racing jurisdictions globally, with around half of the professional trainers and jockeys being female. This egalitarian approach is a feather in the cap for Swedish racing, reflecting the country’s broader societal values.

The Betting Angle

What is horse racing without betting, right? You cannot have a good horse racing scene when betting is illegal as we’ve seen in many countries where the sport dies off slowly.

Fortunately, the betting climate in Sweden is vibrant, especially for horse racing. But don’t get too excited and jump into the process. Betting requires research, analysis, and deep dive into data.

The V75 bet, a weekly challenge to pick winners across seven races, is a particular favorite.

So, if you are going to Sweden, make sure to check out some of the races.

Final Words

It seems like Sweden has a vibrant horse racing culture but with a twist. Unlike the US horse racing scene where Thoroughbreds and sprint races dominate the sport, in Sweden, we have harness racing, which is not bad of course.

They have many different racecourses, and the horse racing season never ends, even in cold temperatures. But I bet horses wouldn’t mind since they are used to a colder climate.

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