Author: Duane Fonseca

RACING IN Dubai has made Susanne Berneklint’s job a bit easier with the Swedish conditioner admitting the competitive nature of the Dubai World Cup Carnival did her a power of good last season. “The quality of the fields here are world class and you can have your horses race against the best in the world, what better training than that?” Berneklint told Al Adiyat. “We saw it with I Kirk and Plata O Plomo last year. We brought them to Dubai and when they went back home they both won three straight races.” It’s not just about the level of competition when it comes to the improving form of her horses during their Dubai trips, but Berneklint believes Meydan’s dirt surface is very similar to that at her home track in Jägersro, in Malmo.

It probably explains why I Kirk won fresh last term when making his DWC Carnival debut and Plata O Plomo thrived to win the Mina Hamriya 1600m handicap ahead of fellow Swedish raider Stricker, the charge of Francisco Castro on 30 January this year. “I’m in the south and the dirt there is very similar to here. The surface is very fast and I think the horses from the south of Sweden should not have a problem coming and running here,” Berneklint said. “I think coming here makes horses stronger and their performance improves considerably after going back.” I Kirk showed that last term, but this season his opening run in the 1200m Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint yielded a fifth of eighth finish behind Satish Seemar’s brilliant sprinter Gladiator King.

Had the 6yo gelding won his first start like last year instead of fading 300m from the finish, Berneklint would have had a double to celebrate after Plata O Plomo’s heroics earlier on the card. Berneklint has a total of four horses in the DWC Carnival, with Master Blaster and Trickbag, both owned by Hastgruppen i Lund AB, who also own I Kirk, the other two. Master Blaster was seventh on his first start in a 2000m handicap at Meydan on 23 January, while Trickbag took fourth in a 1200m dirt handicap a week earlier. 

“We have some exciting horses in the yard and we brought some nice ones here. We have four horses this year: Plata O Plomo, I Kirk, Master Blaster and Trickbag,” Berneklint said. “I Kirk ran three or four times before coming to Dubai and in Sweden he has been winning nearly everything so it’s nice to bring him here and maybe make him stronger so he can go back and perform even better. “The horses travelled nicely. Trickbag ran well and we were very happy with his fourth. He likes dirt and he was back on it so it was a good performance from him and he put in a really fast time so we are very happy with him. “Plata O Plomo was stressed coming here and he had a really bad draw in his first race where he started from 16, but he was drawn well in the last race and he won quite comfortably.

We were very impressed with the way he ran.” One of the most successful former Flat women jockeys in Sweden, Berneklint decided to get her trainer’s licence after her ex husband, the former trainer Fredrik Reuterskiöld, was appointed CEO of Svensk Gallop, the governing body for the sport in Sweden. So at the age of 53 she finally decided to take out a licence and today ranks among one of Scandinavia’s top trainers. “I used to be a professional jockey for 15 years and my ex husband Fredrik Reuterskiöld was a professional trainer, so after riding I started training,” said Berneklint, who won 545 races during her riding career at a fairly high strike rate of nearly 16%. “It was because of my ex husband that I took up training.

He was a trainer and we used to bring horses to race here in Dubai, so we’ve been here before racing at Meydan. “When he stopped training and went to Svensk Gallop, he told me to take out the training licence and take over and I did that. This is my second year as a professional trainer and I managed to get my licence just before coming to Dubai.” That was in 2018 and today, at 55, Berneklint has a small but tidy string of eight horses in training at her base in Jägersro. But she is happy managing affairs at her farm and is happy to have returned to Dubai. “I have raced only in Sweden and Dubai, and it’s just great to be back,” she said.