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Sweden Takes Racing To The City

Published: August 15, 2014 12:04 pm ET

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Swedish harness racing made international headlines as a street in a Swedish city of nearly 600,000 people was transformed into a racetrack on Thursday.

According to reports from Sweden, organizers of Citytravet ("City Trotting") estimated 20,000 people lined the streets for the races held in central Göteborg, Sweden during the Göteborg Cultural Festival. Göteborg ranks as the country's second largest city behind Stockholm.

The event featured eight Standardbred horses and drivers competing in three heats, contested over nearly three hours, beginning with four sets of two competing in the quarter-finals, followed by two semi-finals and the final race-off.

Veijo Heiskanen drove Nerone Bigi to victory over Lutfi Kolgjini and trotter Maffioso Face in the final.

Other competitors included Johnny Takter and Jocasta Lane, Anders Svanstedt and Max Prix, Joakim Lövgren and Million, Jennifer Tillman and New Esterel, Bo Falsig and Regina One, Björn Goop and Strong Reasons.

Preparations for the races began with the street closure earlier in the day. With eight crews working on the construction of the competition area, 200 tonnes of gravel was hauled in by trucks to create the eight-metre wide course running 250 metres long. With the safety of the horses in mind, organizers recruited seasoned horses and drivers for the races and 14 experienced horsemen as bystanders around the track to intervene if any issues developed.

While street racing has been held in Holland and Sweden before, organizers were hoping to take the experience to a new level, offering wagering on the races, live television coverage as well as eight large screens and a sound system for viewing on site.

Organizers see the non-profit project financed through sponsors as an investment in the future of the sport and hope to bring the street racing experience to other cities in similar events next year.

To view a photo gallery of the Standardbred street racing in Sweden, click here or scroll through the photos below.

(With files from ATG.se and Göteborgs-Posten)


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