Two horse-racing meetings will be held at the Marsa racetrack this weekend. The first meeting will be held on Sunday, with the second taking place on Monday (St Joseph – public holiday). Both meetings start at 1.30pm and have eight races on the card.
And then there will be 12! The 12 trotters which will qualify for the Dragonara Casino Tazza l-Kbira final to be held on 1st April.
Indeed, this weekend’s top two races are the semi-finals from the said Tazza l-Kbira over a 2,640m distance, being held one on Sunday and the other on Monday.
Twenty-three Premier class trotters, sixteen French, five Swedish, one German and the other Italian, will battle it out for one of the first six places in each semi-final, in order to qualify for the final. They are aged between 8 and 15 years, with twelve of them (around half) being 11 years old.
The following horses which between them have won 24 races in Malta are registered in the first semi-final: Noble d’Ete, Normand d’Oger, Troy Boshoeve, Nuage de Bourgogne, Mig of the Wood, Nasko Pride, Onyx Speed, Nagano Phedo, True Q, Energy Launcher and Nabab du Chatelet.
The second semi-final will feature horses which have won over 50 races between them, i.e. Marathon Villers, Eastwood OM, Mystere d’Urfist, Bello Fratello, Lou Petiot, Arnie Sensation, Ouest du Vivier, Label Chouan, Naxos de France, Livi Cantona, Nelson du Val and Magic de Assigny.
These horses represent an exciting mix of Premier class horses, from seasoned ones with a string of optimal performances, to recent newcomers which have already started showing their worth locally, to debutants in the Tazza l-Kbira heats which had a respectable past overseas.
The other trot races are also extremely interesting, being semi-finals for Condition races on a 2,140m distance, for each of the Gold, Silver (A and B), Bronze and Copper classes.
These races are characterised by a large number of participants, with the Gold class having 5 races (two on Sunday and three on Monday) with two qualifiers from each, the Silver “B” class having 3 races (all on Monday) with three qualifiers from each, and 4 races on Sunday for the Bronze class (two qualifiers from each). The remaining semi-finals, i.e. those for the Silver “A” class and those for the Copper class, will be held on Sunday 25th March.
The following trotters are registered to debut in the Condition race semi-finals: Arctic Tooma (SE), Obby de Boisy (FR), Ollico Pellois (FR) and Oscar des Racques (FR) in the Gold class and Eastwick (SE) and Play Boy du Canter (FR) in the Silver class.
We also have two flat races, one for Class A and the other for class B, on a 1,750m distance. The Class A race has only 5 registered participants but their quality is undoubted: recent winner Fyelehk, Cheeky Jack which placed third in the last race, Timolin which participated with success in its only race in Malta so far at the end of 2011 and Mr Roxy Music and Priviledged Boy, two thoroughbreds which had shown their worth in the past but have been away from racing for some time.
The Class B race has six participants which are well-known to Maltese racegoers, as well as the rarity of having a Maltese newcomer, Bon Santos. Another interesting race.
Two brilliant meetings await us, characterised by do-or-die knock-out semi-finals, where horses and drivers must give their best to stand a good chance to make it to the finals ...
Last weekend’s two race meetings were entirely dedicated to sprint races, over 1,640m for trotters, and 1,250m for thoroughbreds.
In the absence of the Premier class, Gold class trotters occupied centre stage with four races. In the first, Osiris des Kids registered the seasonal best to date on this distance and its all-time career best time of 1’14’7 per kilometre, thanks to a strong acceleration in the last 700m which led it to its second consecutive win, by a length from Oviedo du Sam and newcomers Okir de Leau and Global Hunt.
Then it was Zilver Boko’s turn to take its second seasonal win after going in front with about a lap to go and holding on despite Pirate d’Urzy’s strong attack in the final straight to win by half a length. Lys des Etroits and Paradis du Lupin finished third and fourth respectively.
Mare She’s Dreamlike made it four wins from the four races she participated in since July last year, after attacking strongly in the last 300m or so to win by about two lengths from Touch The Diamond, Reado November and Matador Knick in a good time of 1’15’9 per kilometre.
Finally the last Gold class race had a similar ending, when Le Bolide du Suret also registered its second seasonal win by about two lengths, thanks to a strong sprint in the last 300m. It was followed by newcomer Figaro A. West, Marini du Mont and other newcomer Frisco Pe.
The two race cards also included six Silver class races which resulted in wins for Petrus du Vivier (second win from its two races in Malta in a good time of 1’16’0 per kilometre), Galileo Bisa (first seasonal win), Must du Buisson (second seasonal win), Landi Breton (first win in the last seventeen months), Stainless Steel (first win in the last ten months) and Lonestar Somolli (first win in the last fourteen months).
In the Class A flat race, Fyelehk registered its fourth win from the five races it competed in here in Malta, finishing up winner by a strong margin from Darielli and Cheeky Jack in the season’s best time to date on the distance.
During last Sunday’s meeting, Malta Racing Club Chairman Dr Matthew Brincat together with Finn-Tack representative Mr Karl Debono made the February Driver of the month presentation to winner Noel Baldacchino. Well done Noel for winning this honour and thanks to Finn-Tack for supporting our sport by sponsoring this initiative.
Doping test results
The Malta Racing Club recently received a doping test result. Congratulations go to the owners and trainers of Prince Regent (Assikura Championship Category B Final – 19th February) whose result confirmed that it was clean from prohibited substances.
Past Tazza l-Kbira Championships
As a horse owner once told me: “Forget winning, but how I’d love to have a horse which at least makes it to the Tazza l-Kbira final!” And indeed, with the quality of the participants, making it to the final and being among the top ten or twelve horses in the championship is a massive feat in itself. It guarantees a place in Maltese horse-racing history.
On the eve of the Dragonara Casino Tazza l-Kbira semi-finals, I recall some distant memories. Memories of 40 and 35 years ago ... but with horse names which will never be forgotten.
In 1972, the first semi-final took place on the 2nd April with the following participants: Sacrobate IV, Sam II, Spartacus III, Urgo D, Renov Vit, Toutankhamon, Solid Espoir, Sissi IV and St. Sylvestre II.
Urgo D and Sam II took an early lead and the former was at one stage leading by two lengths. However on the bend, there was a nice group of horses challenging each other in a straight line. Around 20 yards from the finishing line, Sam II, Sacrobate IV and Toutankhamon took the front positions and sprinted together to the finishing line. Sam II won by the slimmest of margins from Sacrobate IV and Toutankhamon, with Urgo D and Renov Vit also making it to the final.
The second semi-final was contested by the following trotters a week later: Questembert, Regecolore, Terido, Twist Manderie, Tarzan Novel, Rick R.A., Reza de Pibrac, Sire du Mesnil and Tivoli. Terido, Twist Manderie, Questembert and Reza de Pibrac were the main protagonists for most of the race, with Terido taking the lead in the final stages but being overtaken by Reza de Pibrac (C Grima) followed by Twist Manderie at the end. Questembert and Tivoli were the other two qualifiers.
In 1977, the semi-finals were held on the 24th April. The first saw the following horses: Bambi III, Teseide, Boristene, Beguin du Mesnil, Cornichon M, Arnas, Cesar d’Orge, Urbain L and Capimon. The lead changed hands several times but around the final bend Cesar d’Orge took a three-length lead which was however undone by Bambi III’s perfect attack on the inside lanes, which gave the win to the latter. Cesar d’Orge was second, Beguin du Mesnil third with Urbain L and Cornichon M following them to the final.
Unique Tresor, Ave H, Acteon Joli, Baal, Ardent VI, Cocoto, Cristal III, Alcyon III, Echassier and Antoine D competed in the other semi-final. Then Tazza l-Kbira holder, Alcyon III, took an early lead together with Ardent. When the latter appeared to tire out, it was Baal which gave Alcyon III a good run for its money, but the latter managed to hold on till the end, unleashing its characteristic strong final sprint. Baal was second, Cristal III third, Unique Tresor fourth, with Ave H taking the remaining final spot.
Which trotters will join their memorable predecessors by making it to this year’s Dragonara Casino Tazza l-Kbira final?
On Sunday and Monday, we will know the answer ...
We wish you all two exciting meetings this weekend.