That afternoon I spoke to my editor at Expressen, the newspaper that had dispatched me to cover
the World hampionship and Mack Lobell. My colleague Thomas Pettersson, safe at home in
Stockholm and always a source of bright ideas, shouted into the phone with a volume that made
the earpiece unnecessary:
- Of course you have to test-drive The Mack (one of Expressen's standing features is tests of
everything from cars to wine and mobile phones) the day before the race! It is a scooooop!
Fortunately John-Erik is also a man of crazy ideas so his only comment was, "Okay". Of course
he was aware that I was brought up with horses. But still, to trust a 50-million horse to a journalist
just two days before the World champion race is not bad. Or maybe that is what it is....
The next morning I walked across the infield of Yonkers with a helmet under my orm. I had not
been abIe to rustle up a pair of white pants or white gloves like Campbell used to wear, but still.
The Mack's groom Eva looked my way and saw the helmet as she was waking the horse towards
the track. She had not been informed of the day's event.
- What do you think you are doing, she asked.
- I´m m driving the Mack.
- So let's hear the one about Santa Claus too!
But then she saw John-Erik's big grin from the corner of her eye and started to realize what was
going on. After one circuit in deep thouqht she pulled up, shook her head and wordlessly turned
the reins over to me. I was sitting behind the world's best trotter and the location was Yonkers
Raceway, New York.
It was heavy. Lead heavy. We guys have a way of fantasizinq about winning a million, about hero-
ic deeds, about making the goal that wins the World Championship, about turning the last turn in
Elitloppet with a horse full of run and a gap between horses coming up.
I had plenty of time for thoughts like that during my two tums around Yonkers. Mack Lobell jog-
ged around and I enjoyed myself, wnen I wasn't worrying that he would take a bad step and hurt
himself with me in the cart. What did it feel like? Like a Swiss watch. Like a Ferrari. Like a dream!
The moment I turned over the reins I knew I would spend the rest of my life regretting that I didn't
dare turn him lose and get the feel of some speed.
But I think you understand my reasons. I felt slightly intoxicated when I made my way back to the
hotel to put my feelings on paper. It was sheer pleasure at the keyboard when the door suddenly
opened. Claes Kärrstrand, transformed to a wet dishraq with a body language that screamed de-
feat, fell into a chair. After a couple of minutes he started to speak. But all he could say was:
- Son of a bitch!
After a while he got it out. The guy who was to develop the film had used the wrong developer.
Colour for black and white or was it the other way around. Either way, it was a catastrophe.
No pictures of my grand scoop. And hardly possible to do again tomorrow. Now who would believe
that I had driven the Mack without photographic evidence? After a couple of terrifying moments we
realized that Claes might be able to find a way to save some of the photos. And he did.
But the framed picture on the wall in my office, with the proud inscription "Mack Lobell - Anders
Abenius, Yonkers Raceway, New York August 1989" has too much green for a colour picture. Or
black and white for that matter.
Text: Anders Abenius Photo: Claes Kärrstrand