BJORN Nielsen, owner-breeder of the UK’s staying superstar Stradivarius and Investec Derby prospect English King (6-1 joint favourite for the race on 4 July), enjoyed his first South African winner at Scottsville on Wednesday when Justin Snaith-trained Trickster (14-10 favourite), won a Maiden Juvenile Plate over 1100m by a length under Anton Marcus.

Trickster (What A Winter, Hemel N Aarde Stud), a R700,00 purchase from from the 2019 Cape Premier Yearling Sale, made her run in the middle of the track before drifting across to the rail, and won well.

Snaith commented: “Welcome to South Africa, Bjorn Nielsen. I am very fortunate to be training for him. He has invested heavily in SA racing and is a top man. Trickster was a bit green, this track can be intimidating, but I’m very happy she’s arrived.”

Marcus said: “It augurs well that Trickster won over 1200m at Scottsville. In time, when they put her around the bend, I think she’s going to do something for them.”

Nielsen, born and raised in Cape Town, used to listen to thoroughbred races on the radio, as there was no television in South Africa at the time. One of the horses he would hear about a lot was Sea Cottage, who would turn out to be the one of the most famous thoroughbreds in South African history. 

Sea Cottage sparked in Nielsen an interest in thoroughbred racing that has lasted to the present day. When his family moved to the UK, Nielsen lived close to the Epsom Downs Racecourse and would visit before the great Derby days and watch the contenders take their final pre-race gallops. These were the days of famous trainer Vincent O’Brien, trainer Noel Murless, and jockey Lester Piggott. 

In the early 1990s, Nielsen decided to follow his childhood interest in racing, and he began buying racehorses. He quickly realized that it was difficult to find horses with the type of pedigrees he desired, and so, the solution was to breed thoroughbreds himself. 

Nielsen began breeding thoroughbreds, his goal has been to breed the winner of the Derby.

Nielsen lives in Palm Beach, Florida, but he spends a good amount of time in England during the Flat Racing Season. He mostly travels around to see the family and horses, and also comes to Cape Town on occasion.