Annika Kallse

I met Annika when she came from Scandinavia to ride at Philadelphia Park a few months ago. She also won the race and I got her email address. I recently sent her an email interview and she recently sent this back to me and here is what was said.

FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?

AK: I was born in Stockholm (the capital of Sweden) and grow up in a suburb called Täby.

FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up?

AK: I was a normal girl but I did spend most my time after school in the stable. When my friend started to go out and party I was in our indoor-school riding show-jumpers and practicing more.

FOTH: Did you parents ever see you ride?

AK: My parents are always watching me ride if they can. They are very supportive and involved in racing but I think they are a bit nervous when I am riding over jumps.

FOTH: What event or events led to you becoming a jockey?

AK: I had a friend who I meet while we were competing show jumping and dressage on small ponies. When I met her couple of years later I found out that her father was an amateur trainer and I started to ride out for them on the countryside. At that time I was about 15 years old and two years later I started to ride out for a professional trainer at Täby Galopp. About one year later I rode my first amateur race.

FOTH: Looking back was it easier or harder becoming a jockey?

AK: For me it has been easy, easier than I thought. I have always been given a lot of chances and rides. I am still an amateur rider because of my weight.

FOTH: Tell us what you remember about your 1st race.

AK: I remember every stride in that race. I rode one of my favourite horses; Star Crusher and that I got the ride was decided very late though the stable amateur was riding another horse in the race. The race was 2000 meters and my horse hadn't been racing in a couple of months. We jumped of in front and I remember thinking; "Where are the rest???" I stayed in the front about half the race before my horse blow up and we finished 10th.

FOTH: Tell us about your 1st win.

AK: My first win came already in my second race. I rode Star Crusher again but this time the race was over 1350 meters, a much better suited distance for my horse. This time he wasn't as quick out as the time before and I was drawn on the far outside of the track. The race was really over-paced by the two frontrunners and when I finally found a position as third horse they had left us with at least ten lengths. But my horse started to pick up and we passed one of the frontrunners 400 meters from home and the second one 200 meters out. We won the race easy with 4 lengths.

FOTH: What was it liking going into the winner's circle?

AK: I was happy for weeks and everyone was cheering afterwards.

FOTH: How long have you ridden for?

AK: I have ridden ponies and half-breds for 17 years. I competed a lot of show-jumping and dressage, especially on the ponies until I was 18 years old. It was when I was to old for riding ponies I really got into racing. I started to ride on the country side 1996 and on the track 1998, I rode my first race 1999 when I was 17 years old.

FOTH: What tracks have you ridden at?

AK: I have been working at Täby Galopp, Stockholm but I have been Riding races at Jägersro, Strömsholm, Övrevoll (Oslo, Norway), Copenhagen Racecourse (Denmark), Oostende (Brussels, Belgium), Duindigt (Amsterdam, Holland), Hoppegarten(Berlin, Germany), Hamburg (Germany), Cologne (Germany), Naples (Italy), Gran Canaria (Spain), Deauville and Clairefontaine (France), Frauenfeld (Zürich, Switzerland), Alag (Budapest, Hungary), Pardubice (Praha, Czech) and Philadelphia Park!

FOTH: Are you happy with what you have acheived so far?

AK: I am pleased with what I have achieved. There are always loads of things that can be better. I am always working on my fitness, technique and style. My third place in the World Cup (Fegentri) 2003 was very fun. Now I am waiting for my first winner over jumps!

FOTH: What is the hardest thing for you being a jockey?

AK: My biggest problem is to watch my weight.

FOTH: What is your proudest moment as a jockey?

AK: Both my World Cup (Fegentri) winners has been a very big moment. To listen to the Swedish national anthem and see them raise the flag in Switzerland was nice. Also the winner in USA was a very big moment.

FOTH: Are you friends with any other female riders?

AK: I have a lot of good friends among the female jockey's both in Scandinavia and all around the world! All my travelling around Europe and the trip to USA has given me so many new contacts and friends! I am a jockey-agent for one female jockey in Sweden for the moment.

FOTH: Are there many other female riders in Scandinavia? 

AK: About 50 % of the professional jockeys are females in Scandinavia and about 90 % of the amateur riders are females.

FOTH: Do you have any other hobbies you like to do?

AK: For the moment all my life is around the horses and I have three horses in training and are working as a exercise rider on the track.

FOTH: What goals do you have right now?

AK: My goal for 2004 is to be Swedish Champion, and be able to go for one more year of Fegentri. My goal for 2005 if I will be riding the Fegentri, is to be World Champion.

FOTH: What injuries have you had?

AK: I had a fall in a flat race last year and broke a collarbone and damaged a nerve in my shoulder. That one is still not healed and will probably cause problems a couple of years forward.

FOTH: Any last words. Pleasure meeting you and best of luck with your riding.

AK: I would like to thank trainer Charles Robbins who gave me the ride on Cosmipolitan at Philadelphia Park last year and made my first USA trip a memory for life. I would love to come back one day! Nice meeting you too Chris.    

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