Nestled in the foothills of Oslo, Øvrevoll racecourse is home to the Norwegian Derby, traditionally run on the last Sunday in August. A crowd of approximately 8,000 were present to watch the French-bred Square De Luynes, see off thirteen rivals to win the 2018 renewal under a great ride by jockey, Rafael Schistl - giving him his third victory in this Listed contest. This was the fifth Norwegian Derby winner to be trained by Niels Petersen, one of eleven trainers to be based full time at Øvrevoll and the first for owners, Stall Power Girls.

Rein check - eventual winner, Square De Luynes
Under starter's orders
Heading past the stands
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The “clubhouse” turn
Still pulling! The winner (Square De Luynes) a good fifteen minutes after the race.

View the full race below:

Whilst the Norwegian Derby may well be the iconic focus for the local owners and trainers, the raceday is catching the attention of a wider European audience. Chantilly-based trainer, Nicholas Clement, sent Barade to run in the feature race and Mick Appleby made the journey from his Nottinghamshire (England) base with two charges - Hakam, who won the 1370m (near 7f) Gp. 3 Altia Polar Cup and Big Country, who won 120,000NOK (approxiamtely £12,000) for his third place effort in the 1800m (1m1f) Gp. 3 Marit Sveaas Minneløp, which boasts one of the best purses of all Gp. 3 races run in Europe.

Hakam in the Winners' Enclosure

Mick Appleby and Jonathan Clayton with Big Country

The race proved to be the first leg of a big race double for the Derby-winning, jockey-trainer combination, with Our Last Summer (yellow cap) holding on in a tight finish to take the winner's purse of 800,000NOK (approximately £80,000).

View the full race below:

The winners enclosure at Øvrevoll is a key element to the whole raceday experience. Crowds flock to hear what the jockeys, owners and trainers have to say about their victories.

Willa Schou reminiscing about her victory on My Cup Of Tea in the Longines Ladies Cup
Iconic Norwegian trainer, Wido Neuroth, discusses the victory of Angel Love in the Erik O Steens Memorial

Øvrevoll Racecourse is somewhat American in style, complete with a US style toteboard in the infield. With long straights and two bends, races from 1200m (6f) and up to 1800m (1m1f) can be run as one turn races.

Viewing areas are spread out and give a feeling of space. The racecourse buildings are a mix of both contemporary design and functional areas with a healthy splattering of traditional wooden-clad buildings - ideal for the summer action. The enclosed grandstand boasts what must be unique in the racing world - a fully equipped tackshop taking up most of the ground floor! However, it’s easy to understand how the grandstand is probably best enjoyed when the cold sets in and probably loved most by those whose business is relying on the existence of the shop. This is when the racing switches to the dirt track, which can be found on the inside of the turf course.

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Racing in Norway is a very much a family occasion - for all generations. In Norway it’s as if you go racing as part of the pre-nursery school education. I don’t think I have seen so many strollers or prams on a racecourse before. But it’s not only the children who are everywhere. Well-behaved dogs of every shape are encouraged to come too.

For many racegoers, the universal translation of the words “Derby Day” seemingly means “dress up”. Hats in Oslo are a big thing and by my reckoning, the city boasts the most eclectic bunch I have ever seen this side of Louisville, KY. This wasn’t lost on Emirates Airlines who were giving away business class tickets to Dubai for the best attired racegoers. I hope that the winner or winners get to take their hats as part of the prize. One family came “themed” but quite what the Emerati’s would make of the set of Christmas present hats complete with a Christmas tree-clad daughter is beyond me!

Derby traditions upheld! Gentlemen wearing the correct attire - Epsom, Woodbine and now Øvrevoll.

Quality food and drink are increasingly (and rightfully) becoming an important part of the racing experience. At Øvrevoll they champion artisan offerings. From traditional patisseries to oriental noodles, racegoers are well catered for.

At Øvrevoll they also have a certain sense of humour for their English-reading clients. But as a man, who would I be to disagree with the statement on the loos (restrooms)?!

For those who like their jumping action, there is always the simply massive ski jump just up the hill from the racecourse. As experienced by one of Cheltenham’s iconic jumping legends - Eddie “the eagle” Edwards!

For more information about racing in Norway, please visit - www.ovrevollgalopp.no

Words and images - copyright - Giles Anderson

Race videos copyright - fometter1

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