The founder of Wallenius Lines Olof Wallenius purchased the 2-year-old trotter Big Noon in 1938 and kept it at his farm Menhammar. During the 1940s, Big Noon became the most famous trotter in Sweden, thanks to its success both in and out of the country. But during the Second World War, competing in Europe was not an easy task.
Founder Olof Wallenius performs a bureaucratic mountain climbing to bring Big Noon to the starting line at Europe’s largest race in Berlin – in the middle of flaming war.
The air-raid warnings over Berlin makes trainer Gösta Nordin run out of the hotel bed. Despite a silver medal in the race, Big Noon receives all the attention as the European champion. Next in line is Norway, which is occupied by Germany. At the Oslo racetrack Bjerke, a historic trotting feast gives the audience a moment of joy in spite of the war. After a gallop, Big Noon doesn’t stand a chance and the crowd whistles out of disappointment.
Big Noon performs the achievement of his lifetime. He is 100 metres behind but with every step, the cheers get louder. 20 metres ahead of the finishing line, Saint Protector still has the lead but Big Noon pushes himself to the victory and the celebrations from the audience of Bjerke know no limits.
This is when Knut Andersen takes the famous photo, which was to become the most reproduced trotting picture in Sweden. Big Noon’s characteristic silhouette can still be found to this day on both Menhammar Stuteri’s logo and a number of stables at Solvalla, the largest trotting racetrack in the Nordic countries. In 2009, Big Noon was the third horse to be inducted into the trotting Hall of Fame – the same year as Wallenius Lines celebrated 75 years.
The first prize in the race at Bjerke in 1942 was SEK 10 000 and Olof Wallenius donated the entire sum to relatives of deceased Norwegian seamen lost at sea. Wallenius’ own ship Tolken was hit by a mine during the war. The entire crew is rescued but Tolken goes down in the ocean of the world war.
Today, Menhammar Stuteri is Sweden’s premier stud farm and the breeding stables contain many great trotters that pass on the successful genes of emperor of trotting Big Noon. Read more at menhammar.com