She is one of the best-kept secrets within Swedish horseracing. We have gotten an exclusive interview with coach Jessica Long.
By Hobert & Krupa (This article was originally published in 2016)
“You are Skånes Jeanne D’Arc!” I exclaim excitedly as I notice her light blue eyes and curly snow white hair.
It’s a lovely morning in mid April, Karolina and I have dragged Jessica Long from the Swedish city Klågerup with us to our stylist Carl Collins –makeup mogul – in the heart of Malmo, south of Sweden. It is here In the Juicy-tube scented styling studio that we have decided to meet with Jessica. Along the table rows and rows of lipglosses and shimmery eyeshadows awaits.
“Sit down!” Carl Collin commands as he pulls out a giant blush brush in his hands and points at a minimalistic black Italian chair in that ultra glamorous doomsday way that only he can get away with.
A few weeks earlier, Krupa and I went to visit Jessica Long’s own horseyard, located approximately 15 minutes outside of Malmo. Despite our subtle hint along the lines of – “do you mind walking a little with your race horse in slow motion so we can get a good picture?” – Jessica seemed cool with it.
Now, however, she looks terrified sitting on the Italian chair, staring at her as if she was a finalist on Paradise Hotel. For one thing is to be sure: Facial massages and luxurious foundations is far from a race horse trainers everyday.
Right now, horseracing is on everyone’s mind in Sweden. On the 19th of June Sweden’s new worldclass racecourse opens, namely Bridge Park in Stockholm. The new racecourse is equipped with outstanding facilities. Cinematic bleachers and a specially designes dressing room. At this racecourse, everything from jet-setting Dubaian entrepeneurs to high-heeled fashionistas and listed royals will venture. Jessica Long is of course invited to the premiere. She, alongside other racing profiles such as Inez Karlsson, Fredrik Janetzky, Per-Anders Waste rock and Niels Petersen is an integral part of the so far phenomenal sensation that is Swedish racing.
Jessica’s company Long Racing has in recent years made it into the elite of Swedish horse racing and while some seem to become calmer as they get older, the years passed by have only made Jessica hungrier for success and more cunning in the game. But how is it to be a successful woman amongst so many men? And what is it actually like to be responsible for ABBA-Benny Andersson’s racehorses? Does she ever get cold feet and just want to give up? We have received the answers to our questions. Come along.
-My father Bernt was married to a woman named Monda, and when the two got divorced Mona met Benny Andersson, Jessica explains when we asked her why ABBA-Benny had chosen Jessica to coach his horses. My father and Monica continued to be friends after the divorce and one day Monda brought her new husband around to the yard. “If you have to do things with your family then racehorses is the best way to do it” an impressed Benny asserts immediately after the visit. And with help from Jessica’s mother, Caroline was the yard manager whom bought Benny Andersson’s very first racehorse “Secret Army.”
During this time, Jessica Long herself was only a five-year-old farm enthusiast from Skåne in Sweden.
But today, over 30 yeas later, it is Jessica who has taken over both the financial and practical responsibility for both the yard and the horses.
-Benny Andersson is an extremely intelligent and informed person with a lot of experience as a horse owner, Jessica says. For me, as a coach it is important to maintain a fine balance between both renewing my young horse materials and at the same time inspire my clients to buy new horses.
Communication is key, she says. You can’t just sleep and forget to call back horseowners here and there. Every detail of the multi-million dollar horses development must be accounted for and informed to their owners. Even the smallest change in their physique, it is Jessica who is responsible for.
She must be transparent and self-critical. Both tough and durable in the long run.
-I run a big company and that comes with great responsibility. I have to believe in myself, and I have to constantly be hungry and have the desire to get better.
But don’t you ever get nervous?
-No. This has become such a big part of who I am and what I always have been, she says.
I grew up with this mentality and have been educated in this world since childhood. As a thoroughbred trainer it is all about refining my profession with small steps. But that doesn’t mean leaving behind the basic reason for why you do what you do. This result-focused approach to her work characterizes Jessica’s entire personality. Like when we wanted to refine our artistic vision at her expense and suggest to Jessica that she should wear an expensive pantsuit priced at 12000 crowns from Monica at ABCD. She merely shrugs modestly and responds – Do whatever you want as long as it’s good. I trust you.
Does she eat breakfast? Oatmeal. Coffee? At gunpoint what is the most important thing in life? Children.
-When the races don’t go well I think to myself: “Yes, but it’s just horses,” Jessica admits, shaking her head. Nowadays, there are several personal experiences in my life that have made me more humble as an individual.
As a successful football, with a surprisingly small ego, Jessica has become known both nationally and internationally. When we attended the World Cup in Dubai, it turned out that some of the biggest names within the industry knew exactly who Jessica Long was. Even in England, the rest of Scandinavia and Ireland the Long name has become widely known along side Long Racing.
Is attitude and likeability significant as a coach in this industry? Or why do so many people know who you are?
– Of course it is important to nurture one’s personal brand, Jessica says honestly. To train the horse is a significant part, but the owners also have to think that you are nice and professional to work with. The personal connection is a big part of this profession. I hope I am perceived as being pleasant and straight to the point. In many corporate systems there is this loser mentality where you are constantly trying to find other people to blame but yourself.
How is it in the horseracing industry? And how are you?
– Many coaches are quick to blame the jockeys, the foundation for the track or other people involved, Jessica answers insightfully. I can do this too sometimes, but then it is important to be able to self-reflect and stand for your mistakes. I try not to look for excuses.
Have you ever been mistreated because you are a woman?
– No. (It suddeny gets a little quiet) – However, she continues, – I have never seen that side that you should be treated differently because you are a woman. I don’t know if I have been naïve to it, or if I haven’t been exposed to it. Perhaps I have simply chosen not to see it.
However, many people believe that it is Jessica’s husband who is the real coach and that Jessica is just “the wife on the sidelines.”
– They have heard about Lond Racing but immediately assume that it must be my husband who runs the company. She simply shrugs her shoulders at this. That’s a trivial matter in the context of things. Jessica’s sense of self is strong and she is able to handle both misconceptions about her and her brand. And not to forget- now also odd minimalistic chairs, even those designed in Italy.