Fredrik Johansson, Swedish Jockey
by Bjorn Zachrisson

In Sweden, with marginally more inhabitants than in Hong Kong, trotting racing is King and turn-stile figures reflect that it is the 2nd leading spectator sport in the country.

Nobody will argue the unique supremacy Swedish Trotting holds in Europe, France and Italy included.

In recent years Swedishbred trotters (Queen L and Ina Scott) have won the world’s premier trotting event, the Prix d’Amerique in Paris. There are more than 30 permanent racetracks for trotting - from far north to deep south - with some 11.000 individual trotters in training.

Incidentally, Sweden should be a household name for Hong Kong punters as a large part of the betting slip thermo paper is shipped from the Stralfors Company in Smaland, in the middle of Sweden.

But Thoroughbred racing is small. Betting turnover for one average Hong Kong race at Sha Tin or Happy Valley would almost cover the same for an entire year’s Thoroughbred racing in Sweden, and we are talking about some 650 races on the two permanent race courses, Taby Galopp in capital Stockholm and Jagersro in Malmo, just across from Copenhagen in neighbouring Denmark.

Fredrik with Kieren Fallon at an international jockeys' challenge

Fredrik alongside Kieren Fallon at an International Jockeys' Challenge

The jockey colony in Sweden totals some 50 riders including 15-20 apprentices. That is sufficient to ride the 1.100 horses in training with 53 professional trainers and some 150 permit holders, called “amateur trainers”. Together with the professional riders in Denmark and Norway, the jockey colony grows to 80 plus and the number of horses in training in Scandinavia is close to 2.200 as the main season opens up in 2000.

Started as “pony rider”---Fredrik Johansson, born on 24th March, 1971, the son of former jockey Sven-Ake Johansson, now an invalid (one leg had to go after old injuries from his riding days), was first put on small dwarf-sized ponies at the age of 7.

He actually took part in several pony races at his home town track Jagersro, before riding one race as an amateur rider in 1986, when he was 15. He did not ride in 1987, concentrating on school and dreaming of a professional career as a soccer football player.

However, he reverted to racing in 1988 when local trainer Mikael Jacobsson coaxed him into signing up as an apprentice. He rode 6 winners from 88 rides in Sweden that year, a score that was tripled in 1989 when he rode 17 winners from 240 rides.

First big win in 1990--- In 1990 came the first big win when he rode Nashville to victory in the semi-classic Swedish Criterium, biggest race for 2-year-olds in the country. This was also the year of his first Classic winner when Cheerleader to a complete upset in the Swedish 1000 Guineas (Dianalopning). The filly was regarded as an “also ran” and was actually put in the race with “no betting” by the track!

This year he also broke his first “million”, his mounts gaining a total 1,6 million SEK. In 1991, 1992 and 1993 he topped the 2 million mark and after finishing 3rd, 2nd, 4th and 3rd on the jockey standings in 1990 through 1993, he won his first national championship last year when he rode a record 79 winners from 412 rides, averaging 19%. At the same time, he also was the All Scandinavian jockey champion for the first time.

Hong Kong contract--- In 1995, Lars Andersson together with BBC racing commentator and former English jockey Jimmy Lindley successfully negotiated a Hong Kong Jockey Club visiting jockey contract for Fredrik with racing director Phil Johnston.

Commenting on the Hong Kong deal, Jimmy Lindley said:

"I am no stranger to racing in Sweden, having ridden there many times in the 50s and 60s and having put on a couple of international jockey tournaments at the Stockholm track in 1979 through 1981.

Reinsmanship over there is on a high level and after seeing some videos of Fredrik’s I was convinced that he is “world class” material. That is what it takes to perform in Hong Kong today."

The young Swedish rider did rather well in Hong Kong, rode several winners, including a Group 1, but had to shorten his visit somewhat due to an accident that damaged his shoulder and elbow.

Although he has never ridden in the USA - his experience so far is confined to Sweden and Scandinavian Denmark and Norway plus occasional excursions to Germany and France - his riding style is very “American”, low crutched and stirrups far out on the toes. He is a very rhythmic rider and is especially effective in close finishes.

Fredrik Johansson - big wins--- Fredrik Johansson has ridden winners so far of more than 75 Stakes races, or other important events, in Sweden and Scandinavia. He was Champion Apprentice Jockey in 1989 and 1990, Scandinavian Jockey Champion in 1991, Champion Jockey in Sweden in 1994 and Scandinavian Jockey Champion again in 1995.

He has been leading moneywinning rider in Scandinavia for the last two years, setting new records each time. In 1999 he was first jockey for Scandinavian Champion Stakes races trainer Wido Neuroth in Norway and consequently teamed up with Champion 3-year-old Valley Chapel, who ran away with all three Scandinavian Derby events, the first horse to do so since 1963.

Fredrik Johansson, Riding record in Scandanavia

Note, total prize money won not conclusive as no records in this category were available in Denmark in 1988-97.

Year 1st 2nd 3rd Mounts Purses % Rank
1986 0 0 0 1 0 0% Amateur
1987 0 0 0 0 0 0% Did not race
1988 7 11 8 96 184,200 7% --
1989 17 25 25 243 530,950 7% --
1990 59 50 46 390 1,617,300 15% --
1991 74 66 78 564 2,552,150 13% Champion
1992 79 60 62 519 3,045,200 15% --
1993 59 65 57 465 3,397,540 13% --
1994 103 87 76 548 4,395,175 19% Champion
1995 97 75 67 543 5,066,920 18% --
1996 43 52 41 299 4,549,395 14%
1997 59 67 53 364 5,227,403 16% --
1998 111 93 72 582 8,245,233 19% 2nd
1999 104 77 59 600 8,682,535 17% 2nd
2000 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2001 79 85 77 538 12,628,166 15% 2nd
Total 891 813 721 5,752 60,112,167 15% to 2/12/2001

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