• Action Skoatter

    The trotting world first took notice of Action Skoatter during the 1988 Elitlopp. However, even though the roan filly had dominated in the Netherlands and had also won a few times in Germany, she was not a known quantity outside of that area.

    Born on the first of June 1983, Action Skoatter made her debut in august as a 2 year old and ended up with 4 wins and 3 third place finishes in 8 starts as a 2 year old. As a 3 year old she would firmly establish herself as queen of the Dutch crop, going 17-2-1 in 22 starts and a 15:1/2:00.4 record for her owners Eelke Kruis van Terband and Evert Gaastra. 4 years earlier, in October 1982, they bought the broodmare Miss Dartel at a dispersal sale without even knowing that she was in foal to Gallant Prince. One race at 3 where she did not do well was the Dutch Derby, contested over the longer distance of 2600 meters (1 10/16 mile), a distance not suited to the filly. Later that year she would set a Dutch record with 15:1/2:00.4 and would start a run of wins that would not end until she reached 17 consecutive wins.

    Her sire, Gallant Prince, was imported from the US where he was a decent racehorse. He won the 1970 Tompkins Memorial og Matron Stakes for Stanley Dancer, finished 7-15-5 in the 3 heats of the Hambletonian the same year, and was later imported to the Netherlands by Joop Schoonderwoerd (who also owned Miss Dartel before selling her at auction), where he was a fairly good stallion. However, he produced some difficult foals and Action Skoatter was no different. When they first hitched her to a sulky Action Skoatter responded by laying down and refusing to get up. They knew she could trot, though, as she would do nothing but trot - and trot fast - when alone in the field. With a bit of determination Eelke Cross managed to rid the roan filly of the habit of laying down and she was put in the training of young Appie Bosscha. Her dam, Miss Dartel, was an unspectacular trotter with a 1:20/2:08.4 record.

    As a 4 year old she took her dominance to new heights, winning 19 times in 21 starts, setting a Dutch record and numerous track records in the process. Her biggest win of the year would not come on Dutch soil, however, but in the German race Greyhound Rennen for 4 year olds in Mönchengladbach. She would for the first time meet the German star Every Way, who was won the European Championship for 3 year olds the previous year and was pretty much considered unbeatable. With her enormous burst of speed, Action Skoatter easily took the lead and forced Every Way to trot the outside. Despite trying his best, and pushing the filly throughout the race, Every Way faded down the final stretch and Appie Bosscha celebrated passionately in the bike as they crossed the line. A large group of fans had taken the trip from the Netherlands and returned not only high on the win but also with considerable money as a result of Action Skoatter paying good money since almost all German money had been on Every Way, thus forcing the odds on the filly up. Alvin Schockemöhle, the owner of Every Way, responded by immediately puting in a bid for Action Skoatter, rumoured to be in the region of 700 000 Dutch guilders (€317 646), which was immediately rejected.

    The Greyhound-Rennen was not the only highlight of her very impressive 4 year old season. Despite being the only 4 year old in the race, the Dutch Championship was also easily won by the filly, who lowered the race record by two full seconds in the process, winning in 16:2/2:02.3 over 2600 meters (1 10/16 mile). Later that year, in September, Action Skoatter would lower the record for fastest mile in Holland by winning the Sprintkampioenschap (Sprint Championship) in Hilversum in 13:5/1:58.1. In October she was back at Hilversum where she won her elimination to the Prijs der Giganten. Her fans, who had filled 30 busses from Northern Netherlands, saw Grades Singing, possibly the best older filly in the world at the time, winning by a length over the filly they affectionally knew as "Us Action".

    Every horse has a nickname or two, and Action Skoatter was no different. Hailing from the Friesland province of the Netherlands, she was probably most commonly referred to as "de Vliegende Friezin", the Flying Frisian. But with Friesland being the only one of the Dutch provinces to have its own language, she also had a name in the Frysk language, namely "Us Action" which means "Our Action". And in Scandinavia, she got the nickname The Flying Dutchman, a nickname never given to her in the Netherlands (!)

    The Scandinavian nickname originates from her performance in the 1988 Elitlopp as a 5 year old. Being an unknown quanity against world stars, her odds was 408 for 10 in her elimination but she shocked the Swedish crowd by forcing Pay Nibs to a 1:06 opening (roughly 26.4 quarter) while big favourites Sugarcane Hanover and Napoletano made huge breaks. But Us Action's extreme opening speed rebounded on her, and while Sugarcane Hanover and Napoletano came back to grab the first two spots, she faded toward the end but managed to finish fourth and thus grabbed the last spot in the final. In the final the Dutch mare, leaving from post 8, had no chance of getting around Mack Lobell who left from post 1, and was forced to run outside of the leader. Toward the last turn Action Skoatter tired and she finished the race well behind the rest.

    Overall she won almost everything at home that year, finishing the year 21-3-3 in 33 starts. She did suffer a few minor disappointment, two of them being a third place in the Dutch Championship and a fourth place finish in the Prijs der Giganten (behind Friendly Face, Quartz and Park Ridge Lobell after again winning her elimination). Her best performance was probably in the European Championship for 5 year olds in Gelsenkirchen where she finished second behind Swedish Piper Cub.

    As a 6 year old Us Action struggled a bit with an injury in the gluteal muscles, but she still managed to start 10 times, picking up 5 wins in the process. As a result she was put on a special diet ("de Action-brok", "the Action diet") designed by nutritionist Aize Soeten. This helped the mare who fully rebounded as a 7 year old and posted a 17-8-3 season in 32 starts, winning the Sprintkampioenschap van Alkmaar (the Alkmaar Sprint Championship) and setting a new track record in the process, Sprintkampioenschap van Nederland (the Dutch Sprint Championship), het Kampioenschap van Friesland (the Friesland Championship), and het Wintersprintkampioenschap (the Winter Sprint Championship). She also finished second in the Prijs der Giganten, again losting to third-time winner Friendly Face. During the year she also passed Kees Verkerk (the trotter, not the speed skater!) as the winningest Dutch trotter.

    Us Action started the 1991 season well, going 7-3-0 in 14 starts, including wins in Sprintkampioenschap van Alkmaar (the Alkmaar Sprint Championship) and the Willem H. Geersenprijs until she sustained an injury in May, which would eventually sideline her for a full 18 months. It was not until november 1992 before she returned to the track with a win at Wolvega. She would only make three more starts as a 9 year old but ended 1992 with 1-1-1 in 4 starts.

    At this point her career would normally come to an end as she was reaching the mandatory Dutch retirement age. But every now and then rules are bent to accomodate stars and in the Netherlands, Action Skoatter was a superstar. So the Dutch association simply changed the rules to allow Us Action to keep competing but the roan filly only made 3 starts as a 10 year old but managed to win the Grote Sterrensprintersprijs (Big Star's Sprint Prize) at Wolvega. However, on May 9th 1993 it was all over as Action Skoatter participated in her last race.

    Her career in numbers read 92 wins, 19 second place and 11 third place finishes in 147 starts. She earned 1 103 059 Dutch guilders which is equivalent to 500 546 euros and her fastest time is 13:5/1:58.1f. Not bad for a foal they did not even knew they had when they bought Miss Dartel at auction...