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Horse Racing: One man come in the name of love and luck; BLOODSTOCK WORLD.

Byline: Geir Stabell speaks to owner-breeder Sven Hanson, whose champion filly Pride gave birth to her first foal, by Galileo, this year

IN THE early years, owner-breeder Sven Hanson, who divides his time between a home in Switzerland and the Haras de Vieux Pont Stud in Normandy, gave his horses 'salty' names, as his family has been making a good living from the salt business for more than 100 years. The familial history led to the naming of his first top-class performer, Fair Salinia, who landed the unforgettable treble of the Oaks, Irish Oaks and Yorkshire Oaks in 1978 when trained by Michael Stoute.

These days, Hanson names his horses after songs, and his latest hit, Pride - the wonder filly of 2006 who took on the boys at Group 1 level in three different countries and beat them - is named after the U2 song of the same title.

To own one such filly is luck, but to have two of them - well, that too is largely a matter of luck, according to Hanson.

"I have always tried to use the best expertise," he says, "but you don't get very far in this business without luck. So many success stories have come about as results of pure coincidences and I have had my share."

One of the more frustrating phases of Hanson's early years in racing became "the best thing that ever happened to me". In the mid-1970s, he was deeply involved in the running of Aby racecourse in Gothenburg. However, there was a hitch.

"Gambling was looked down upon," says Hanson, "and so thoroughbred racing was closed down.

Before the track shut down, Hanson was involved in the Gothenburg Stora Pris, the first race to attract English runners to Sweden. Jeremy Hindley won it with Swell Fellow, owned by Lord James Creighton Stewart, whom Hanson ended up befriending. Aby was later converted to a harnessracing park only.

"I was very disappointed but it was one of the best things that could have happened to me personally," says Hanson. "I decided to try my luck abroad."

His first venture into the international bloodstock market, in 1976, resulted in the purchase of four yearlings at Tattersalls and Goffs. However, "the lucky throw of the dice came long before the sales - it was a trip to France in the spring that made all the difference," Hanson explains. The trip, to Longchamp to see Loosen Up, who had a Swedish owner and was trained in Chantilly by the Norwegian Age Paus, left a lasting impression on Hanson.

"On that day, I saw Liloy winning the Prix Harcourt," he recalls. "Six months later we were at the sales to buy yearlings. I had decided to buy colts only, I wanted them to be precocious types, and my budget was an average of 7,000gns per horse.

"When I went through the catalogue, however, I spotted a filly out of a half-sister to Liloy and I told my agent, Dick O'Gorman, that I had to see her. She was the spitting image of Liloy, but I was advised that she would probably fetch 25,000gns. I got her for 13,000gns. It was a filly, not a colt, and it was nearly double my budget but it was Fair Salinia."

"She was a bit off-set, that put many off and it was pure luck that I got her," he adds. "But for that trip to Longchamp, I would never even have looked at her."

Nearly three decades later, Hanson made use of the French trip again, when it became clear his homebred Pride - bred in the name of N P Bloodstock Ltd - needed special handling. Although the daughter of Peintre Celebre, out of the Alleged mare Specificity, finished third to subsequent Group 1 winner Etoile Montante on her debut at Deauville, "the following spring Pride did not look well at all," says Hanson.

"I was told she was lame and the local vets in Newmarket did not know what it was. Mike Shepherd of Rossdales veterinary practice felt we should get a chiropractor. I asked around who the best would be. The answer wasAge Paus, in Lambourn."

So 27 years after Hanson made the journey to Paris to see Paus saddle Loosen Up, the two met again. Paus, now an equine physiotherapist, was too busy to travel to Newmarket, so Hanson sent the filly to Lambourn and, since Paus did a lot of work for Gerard Butler, she was stabled with him.

Paus diagnosed Pride with a dislocated pelvis. "He worked on her for about a month," Hanson says, "and she won at Newbury later that year. If we had not made such a quick decision, she probably would not have raced again."

When Hanson, who runs the stud in Normandy with his wife Carina, sent Pride back to France, she joined Alain de Royer-Dupre.

"A top trainer is one who can train all types of horses," Hanson reflects, "and Royer-Dupre is one of the very best. When a trainer handles primarily owner-breeder horses, he will get all sorts. Trainers who mainly buy at the sales often specialise in certain types. Some get excellent results, but as a breeder you should never send a horse to a trainer like this unless it is his type.

UNDER the guidance of Royer-Dupre, Pride won eight Group races - with Christophe Lemaire aboard for six of them - including the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes and the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup.

She is now boarded at John Troy's Willingham House Stud in Brinkley outside Newmarket, with her first foal, a colt by Galileo, at foot. Hanson has a high opinion of Troy, whom he compares to Royer-Dupre for his personal attention to detail.

The colt is an uncertain starter at the yearling sales, as his breeder has good cause to retain him.

"If we keep him, we are in control of his career and that may give him a better chance," explains Hanson. "It will also give Pride a better chance to succeed as a broodmare."

And if a mare ever deserved success in the paddocks, it is she. With different connections, the oncetroubled filly might have become a cast-off rather than a champion.

Hanson likes both horses and music, and his positive outlook, combined with patience, has been a perfect recipe for success. "But don't forget the luck factor," he adds. "I have had the lucky breaks, and coincidences have played such a part, as they tend to do in life."

As far as a lucky name, "it can't hurt", Hanson says. "The horse needs all the support it can get.

He adds, tongue in cheek, "By the way, I was a little bit miffed, when Bono turned up at the Arc and supported Grey Swallow. I guess he didn't know how Pride got her name."

CAPTION(S):

Sven Hanson (right) with Pride and Galileo foal held by Julya Pryhikova
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 23, 2008
Words:1155
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