We talk extensively with 36-year-old Marthijs Roorda from Nieuwehorne about his first book and his horse trainer uncle Aonne de Wrede (71) who lives in Heerenveen. This story begins in 1981. In that year, Pikeur Aonne de Wrede became a big name in the trot.
Fries wins over DUINDIGT
It’s 1981. For the first time in the history of harness racing, a Frisian has won the biggest prize in the Netherlands. After winning the Derby on Duendijt, the thirty-year-old Un de Wrede earned tons of guilders. At the time, the largest amount ever.
It was Aonne de Wrede who accelerated with a last-ditch effort and lunged forward. He had already splashed all over the field, landing on Uno Hazelar who had attacked Udo Rotary. He had already passed and was already thinking of winning. But just at that moment, Ono de Wrede was It was my vein with his team Oranis ter Lun who overtook Uno Hazelar and won the biggest and most exciting derby ever for North Korea for the first time in history! Unimaginable surprise in Duindigt!”
The clip above seems to be taken from an exciting book for boys, but nothing could be further from the truth. The rules can be read in the book by Marthijs Roorda, cousin of Aonne de Wrede. Roorda describes the world of horse racing at the time and the role De Wrede played in it.
Strong audacity with its own economy
Half a century ago, the racing world was a stronghold of its economy; A mysterious world with its laws and rules. At the height of harness racing, Aonne de Wrede was, to say the least, a colorful figure, someone who achieved exceptional and imposing performances in harness racing. The professional who can let go of desperate horses wins. but also a man without scruples whose financial interests outweighed his sporting integrity.
Marthijs about his book: “It’s a book with facts from Aonne de Wrede, one of the best trainers and a key figure in the history of harness racing. The book is what the title says. That’s how it was, that’s how the time was. Everyone in harness racing wanted to launder their money and profit from it and were looking About party and adventure. Rules were there to be broken, malpractice was the order of the day. Und and Reddy agreed. But people who are at the top can also fall at the top.”
It is therefore inevitable that Unde Werede will become the “culprit among the innocent”. The man running his tragedy, with his family and ardent racing fans turning against him. Aonne is an anti-hero or even worse, a “Holleeder of harness racing”. Martheges: “Hung around him was a mysterious family history, the bad boy, the terrible child. Not even mention of the name was allowed at family gatherings. Keeping away from omke Aonne was dogma.”
Gamblers, Guilders and Gangsters, the revealing title of the book, with money laundering, malfeasance and fraud as the common thread, vividly reflects the state of horse racing in those years. What made Marthes Roda decide to write this revealing book about his uncle’s race and practices? So we go back a few years to 2020. Marthes Rorda had not even contacted his uncle then.
Raise money for charity
Marthejs: “In 2020, my brother Hendrik and I founded Stâl Boppeslach. We had just received an invitation to the races in Wolvega. We were excited and wanted to get a horse. With Stâl Boppeslach, we wanted them to take part in the races in order to support social initiatives in Fryslân with the prize money. That’s how I ended up in the world of harness racing. But yes, how do I get a horse? And to a trainer? For someone who really cares? In our family, of course, I learned that two of my uncles were actively involved in this world: Uncle Arend and Uncle On. Uncle Aonne came back to live In Heerenveen after years abroad.
I went to him because I really wanted to get to know him. In fact, On and I clicked instantly, also because he was such an extrovert. The man is authentic. Hendrik and I then asked Canter to buy us a suitable horse and the trotter told us the story. Notes to eventually come up with the manuscript “Gokkers Guldens & Gangsters Tragiek van toptrainer Aonne de Wrede”. He ends up with Simon van der Let in Heerenveen, who wants to publish the book. Not least because it’s such an interesting and fascinating history.
“The show was a good experience for me. Anyone is always easy to get by dy bysûndere and tryste skiednis fan de populêre hynstesport yn de jierren 70 and 80 on paper,” admits Marthes Roorda. and omke oun?
Aonne de Wrede faced impossible adventures year after year, but was eventually forced to return to Friesland for health reasons. His complaint seemed to judge him to exist beyond the geraniums. For two years he was locked in his home, then miraculously regained his energy in the year 2020 to do again what he started fifty years ago. Despite his poor health, he returned to a sport he might rather have forgotten.
De Wrede is now 71, and after a two-decade absence, he’s been preparing for one last job: He coaches and supervises a trot every day competing solely for prize money, which he then donates to small, local social organizations in Friesland. He does so altruistically.
Text: Henk van der Veer
Photo: Thomas Vaer Photography