Daniel, Henrik Sedin serious about the sulkies
Vancouver Canucks stars own four trotters and their best horse is about to make its French debut
VANCOUVER — It seems almost a given that the Sedins will return home and play for Modo in the Swedish Elite League should the lockout force cancellation of the entire NHL season.
But Daniel Sedin joked Thursday that he may instead head to Paris.
That’s where the twins’ star trotter, Nahar, is about to begin harness racing for the winter.
“We’re pretty excited about that,” Daniel said of Sedin Stables’ latest acquisition. “I might go to France instead of playing hockey to get a chance to see the horse.”
He was kidding, we think. But make no mistake about it; the Sedins are serious about the sulkies.
On a day when they should have been preparing for their NHL season-opener with the Canucks, the twins were happy to talk about their summer-time diversion.
It’s been a hobby -- “an expensive hobby,” Henrik says with a smile -- for several years.
The twins had one other good horse called Amour Ami that performed well in recent years. But Amour Ami was getting on and it was time to say au revoir.
“He was turning 10,” Henrik said. “They can race until they are 12, but usually when they are 10 they go downwards. Like when you turn 32 when you are a hockey player.”
That was another joke. Henrik and Daniel just turned 32 on Sept. 26.
Daniel hinted last summer that they were looking to unload Amour Ami, preferably to an unsuspecting Finn.
It seems that is exactly what happened.
“He went to Finland and has never raced since,” Daniel said, not looking the least bit disappointed.
Nahar, a seven-year-old, has exceeded the high expectations the Sedins had for the horse when they bought him earlier this summer.
“It has been unbelievable for us,” Henrik said. “Really good. He’s travelling down to France as we are speaking right now.”
The twins paid more for Nahar than they got for Amour Ami -- they wouldn’t discuss dollars -- but he’s already paid for himself.
“He’s won the money back in three months,” Henrik said.
Harness racing is huge back home and like most Swedish cities, Henrik and Daniel’s home of Ornskoldsvik has a track that is open all summer.
The twins’ stable currently includes Nahar, as well as a promising three-year-old and a pair of one-year-olds.
“The three year old has done really well for us,” Henriks aid. “It has just raced four times.”
You don’t get into the business expecting to make money. The Sedins have a couple of trainers on the payroll and then there’s stables, food and lots of other expenses.
“I think they say it is like three or four per cent who make money at it,” Henrik said. “I think overall we’re about even, which is great.”
Swedish hockey players seem to have an affinity for the trotters. Mats Sundin owns horses, as do Henrik Zetterberg and the Sedin’s Ornskoldsvik neighbour Peter Forsberg.
“A lot of hockey players are into it and I really don’t know why,” Daniel said.
“I think it’s just the excitement,” Henrik added. “I really enjoy horses as animals and just being around them and the lead-up to the race.
“As a hockey player you are playing games and are a part of them so you are not really nervous about it. But standing on the sideline and watching your horse race, it’s different.”
Nahar’s success this summer convinced the Sedins to send him to France, which is a step up in class.
“In the winter time in Sweden usually the best horses take the time off to work out,” Daniel said. “But in France it’s the other way around, the best horses race during the winter time. So it’s going to be tough down there.
“You have to be a special horse to like running down there because it’s tougher. Some the tracks there are uphill and downhill, so it’s not like at home where it’s just a circle.”
Daniel and Henrik are counting the days until Nahar makes its first French start in Paris next Friday. Daniel figures the race should start at about 10 a.m. Vancouver time and knows exactly where he’ll be.
“I’ll be at home watching it on my computer,” he said, and undoubtedly hoping Nahar will win, place and show.
On Twitter: Twitter.com/bradziemer
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