A horse-racing meeting will be held at the Marsa racetrack next Sunday, starting at 1.30pm and having eight races on the card.
The key attractions of this meeting will be the two Premier class races and six Condition race semi-finals, three for Silver A class horses and another three for Copper class horses.
The first Premier class race having a full field of 16 trotters includes various participants which have either won or placed well over the last couple of months, even if some of them have done so in the Gold class and achieved promotion to the Premier class.
These include among others Le Bolide du Suret, Nomade de Mai, Candy Fantasy, Troubadour S, Oviedo Vici and Oscarina. French newcomer Otas Fighter is also registered to debut in this race.
Another full field of 16 horses will challenge each other in the second Premier class race reserved for horses with a higher number of points in this class. Some of these have already distinguished themselves earlier this year, such as recent winners or runners-up Nec Carmolo, Nono de Crouay, Assikura Cup Category A final runner-up Count of Life, Anguz R.C., Milord Barbes and other popular trotters.
Three horses from each of the Vida Silver A class and the Paul & Shark Copper class semi-finals qualify for the respective Condition race final, such that each of these finals will comprise 9 finalists.
Each Vida Silver A semi-final includes a full list of sixteen registered horses, among which Swedish newcomers Jill Fox and Bella Notte in the second one.
These semi-finals include horses which have already demonstrated their good form this year. In the first one, Petrus du Vivier has won its two races in Malta to date, Orphee Kadesh has won a race last month, whilst Darco As, Stonecreek, L’Ideal de Fersan and Zerbin have placed during the last month.
The second semi-final includes among others recent winners Prince Regent (winner of the Assikura Cup Category B final), Stainless Steel, Norfolk de Gouerie, Lord of Rush and Landi Breton, whilst Lovely Mab, Simb Groovy and Ygor of Pass have all taken a place during the last month.
Recent winners in the last Vida Silver A class semi-final include Prince du Moutier and Orgeat, with Kandy du Frutier, Number One of Max, Nasdaq du Closet, Power Cape, My Gentleman and Soren Sufflor placing recently.
This will be this year’s first Spring meeting and we hope that as was the case last weekend, sunny Mediterranean spring weather will provide the appropriate backdrop for the meeting during which the remaining finalists will book their places for Easter Sunday’s Condition Race finals.
Two brilliant meetings were held during the last long weekend under glorious sunny blue skies, with the races themselves being extremely entertaining and exciting. The key attractions were the two Dragonara Casino Tazza l-Kbira semi-finals.
In Sunday’s semi-final, Nuage de Bourgogne took an early lead from Nabab du Chatelet and Nagano Phedo. Around half a lap from the end, True Q started a strong acceleration which led it to seriously challenge the leader in the final straight, but Nuage de Bourgogne held on to take its fourth consecutive win by half a length, in 1’15’0 per kilometre (which was also True Q’s average time), the seasonal best time on 2,640m so far this year. True Q, Nabab du Chatelet, Onyx Speed, Mig of the Wood and Troy Boshoeve also made it to the final.
First Arnie Sensation and then Ouest du Vivier took the lead in Monday’s semi-final. Then Nelson du Val took over around a lap from the end.
However in the last few hundred metres, Mystere d’Urfist and Livi Cantona took centre stage as they challenged each other for the win throughout the final straight. Finally, Livi Cantona took its fourth consecutive win (the second this year) by about half a length from the said Mystere d’Urfist, with Nelson du Val, Ouest du Vivier, Arnie Sensation and Label Chouan taking the other places in the final. The winner’s time was an excellent 1’15’1 per kilometre.
In the Fairplay Bingo Gold Class Condition Race semi-finals on 2,140m, we first saw Zilver Boko registering its third seasonal win thanks to a strong attack around 300m from the end, which led it to winning by about four lengths in a good time of 1’15’7 per kilometre. Second placed Figaro A. West also made it to the final, preceding Knockout Molar and The Big Blue World in that order.
In the second semi-final, a late sprint by Oscar de la Vallee led it to take its second seasonal win by a comfortable margin, ahead of fellow qualifier Imbra d’Alfa, in a time of 1’16’2 per kilometre. Mint Spirit and Dialect Af Prinfo finished in third and fourth places.
Then on Monday it was first the turn of Nicos de Peneme. It took the lead mid-way through the race and resisted all challenges to notch its third seasonal win in one of the season’s best times (and its all-time personal best) on the distance, of 1’15’0 per kilometre. Runner-up Lime Casted also made it to the final, preceding Matador Knick and Lys des Etroits.
A strong sprint in the final straight led Oscar Mati to emerge as winner from a head to head challenge between four horses in the final straight. Peasant Gallant finished half a length behind it to also qualify for the final, ahead of Global Hunt and Okir de Leau. The winner’s time was also the horse’s all-time best, an optimal 1’15’2 per kilometre.
In the last Gold class semi-final, Oviedo du Sam registered its second win in Malta, going in front with around a lap to go and comfortably resisting all challenges to finish up winning by a length, in another good time of 1’15’8 per kilometre, from Galileo Bisa which took the last remaining place in the final. Novak and Side Spin finished third and fourth respectively.
The finalists for the other Condition Races emerging from last weekend’s races are the following:
TRM Silver B class Condition Race: Money Boy, Meadow Dancer, Phenix d’Or, Oregon de la Foret, Eastwick, Conmore Toll, Lonestar Somolli, Onwards Star and Cross Country F.C.
Finish Line Bronze class Condition Race: Ackaturbo, Hickory Crown, It’s My Way, Belbroughton Road, Lorenz de Noyelles, Lazume Simoni, Robin Lou and Mr King.
Last weekend’s races also included two flat races. In Class A, Cheeky Jack was occupying one of the back places until around 700m from the end, at which stage its acceleration led it to challenge race leader Fyelehk and to overtake the latter in the final straight, going on to register its first seasonal win. Timolin finished third.
Sellybegood took an early lead in the Class B race and maintained it till the last half lap when it was overtaken by Sleepwalking which went on to take its first win in Malta by a comfortable margin, from Etoile du Pic and Friarscourt.
Apart from the Premier class...
Every country defines in its own way its top class horses. In many countries, this is typically done on the basis of the amount of winnings. In Malta, we distinguish between classes on the basis of points.
Whatever the system used, it is normal in nearly every country that horses in the highest class get most of the attention. This is also typical of other sports and of life in general; i.e. those who are recognised as the highest performers often arouse more interest because they normally constitute the most renowned representatives of the particular sector ... the most successful ones.
And Malta is no exception. Our Premier class horses (followed by those in the Gold class) typically constitute the main focus of attention.
But the current Condition Races are aimed at bringing in the limelight horses in classes other than the Premier class. Indeed, these classes are also extremely important in the Maltese horse-racing scene.
Primarily, they provide a variety of horses which complement those in the Premier class in both quality and quantity. In Malta and overseas, having just top-flight horses does not suffice for a thriving horse-racing sport. If horses in countries such as France and Sweden, had to be restricted to those capable of making it to the Prix d’Amerique, the Elitloppet or other Group 1 races, they would not have a healthy trot culture.
These classes are also extremely balanced and regularly provide us extremely attractive, hard-fought races with spectacular finishes. In a number of instances, the times registered, particularly in the Gold and Silver classes, are at levels which are on par with, or close to those of the Premier class.
Some of our most successful trotters made their debut in these classes. Among this year’s Dragonara Casino Tazza l-Kbira finalists, one made its debut in the Silver class but its local performances led it to reach not just the Premier class but even a substantial number of points in that class.
Our points system rightly takes into account that normally our horses are not re-exported and thus age and health problems may leave their mark even on the best horses. Although at some stage in their career such horses may no longer qualify to race in the Premier class, they may still be extremely competitive in other classes and able to give deserved satisfaction to owners, trainers and spectators.
And in the case of some horses a revival may take place in such classes. Another Tazza l-Kbira finalist made its debut in the Premier class but gradual loss of points eventually resulted in its racing in the Silver class. However in this class it regained its form and morale and various wins and places in the space of a few months led it back to the Premier class and to the Tazza l-Kbira final.
It is thus extremely fitting that these Condition Races should honour our trotters racing in classes other than the Premier class. As has already been the case, we are sure that these horses will present us with further high quality races ... and ultimately, as a result, some of them may even be promoted to the Premier class.
We wish you all an exciting meeting next Sunday.