Horse racing: Readly Express wins Grand Prix d’Amerique
Driver Bjorn Goop won his first ever Grand Prix d’Amerique when he steered Swedish harness horse Readly Express to a last-gasp victory in a thrilling finale at the Vincennes track in Paris on Sunday.
The defending champion of trotting’s greatest prize Bold Eagle went ahead in the final stretch but Readly Express burst back to win at the line as another hotly fancied Swedish horse Propulsion came third with 40,000 fans on hand to cheer them wildly home.
Readly Express’s trainer Timo Nurmos could not contain his joy, running out onto the 2,700-metre dirt track with his arms raised to the crowds waving a Sweden flag in celebration.
In an astonishingly tense finish the top two hurtled neck-and-neck across much of the final furlong after Franck Nivard, having promised to bide his time and strike late, steered Bold Eagle past Readly Express and into first.
But in a final twist, the winner fought back to win by half a length with Propulsion emerging from a pack to clinch third.
“This was my dream. Bold Eagle was right behind me and I was really afraid. But luckily Readly Express never gives up. His head and his heart were amazing,” a dirt-splattered and tearful Goop said afterwards.
The winner’s owner had made victory here the chief target for the season, fine-tuning all the horse’s training towards perfect condition for Vincennes.
Bold Eagle won the French triple crown in February but has failed to maintain top form since with a series of second place finishes.
“Bold was okay but he got stuck with about 100 metres to go,” said driver Nivard.
The race was named in honour of the assistance the United States gave France in World War One and was staged for the first time in 1920.
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