A horse-racing meeting will be held at the Marsa racetrack next Sunday 15th April, starting at 2pm and having ten trot races and one flat race on the card.
This will herald the start of the fourth edition of the Swedish trotters’ championship, this year sponsored by Skyparks. A championship for each class will be held on a 2,140m distance, with heats next Sunday for the Silver class, and semi-finals for each class being held in the following weekend, i.e. on the 20th and 22nd April.
Sunday’s four Silver class heats have ten or eleven registered participants in each with ages varying between 7 and 15 years. Five horses from each heat qualify for next week’s semi-finals.
The participants include various horses coming from some fine performances, including Robin Lou (coming from two wins and a place), Meadow Dancer (a win and two places), Soren Sufflor (winner of its last race), Cross Country F.C. (three places) and many others.
It will be a tough task for all horses to make it to the semi-finals...
The remaining trot races are “normal” ones on the longest Maltese race distance, i.e. 3,140m. Naturally Swedish horses will not take part in these races this week because they will participate in the Skyparks Swedish trotters’ championships.
We have two extremely balanced two Premier class races. Between them they include no less than six participants in the Dragonara Casino Tazza l-Kbira final and last year’s Tazza l-Kbira winner.
Both races also contain various horses coming from wins or runner-up positions, including Nasko Pride, Count of Life, Nuper, Normand d’Oger, Nono de Crouay and Nuage de Bourgogne. We also have two French newcomers, i.e. Mustang du Don and Nueve Musette (previously scratched).
The Gold class race features fifteen participants hailing from Denmark, France, Germany and Norway. It includes an interesting mix of relative newcomers and seasoned performers, some of which have recently achieved promotion from the Silver class whilst others featured in the Premier class until a short time ago.
The other “normal” trot races are two for the Copper class and another for the Bronze class.
We also have a class B flat race on the sprint 1,250m distance. Participants include last year’s Mediterranean Derby winner Buttermilk and five other thoroughbreds seeking either their first win in Malta or a return to the winner’s circle after an absence of a year or more.
A number of championships have been concluded, and another one is starting ... we look forward to more exciting fare at the racetrack!
Out of the eight races on last Sunday’s programme, no less than six were finals in what was called the Easter Sunday Special, which turned out to be another extremely attractive meeting.
The main final was a Consolation Final for seven Dragonara Casino Tazza l-Kbira semi-finalists which did not make it to the big final. Noble d’Ete took the lead at the start of the 2,640m race followed by Normand d’Oger, Bello Fratello and Lou Petiot.
However with around half a lap to go Nasko Pride, which till then had been occupying one of the back places, started a strong attack that eventually led it to go in front and to comfortably take its first win in Malta, in a good time of 1’16’4 per kilometre. Normand d’Oger, Noble d’Ete and Lou Petiot took the places in that order.
In the Fairplay Bingo Gold class Condition Race final on 2,140m (as all of Sunday’s Condition Race finals), as the horses were approaching the final straight, the battle at the front was between Oscar de la Vallee and Zilver Boko, with the latter taking the lead during the final straight.
However in the meantime, Oscar Mati launched a strong sprint in the final straight which led it to overtake Zilver Boko in the last few metres and to take its fourth win in Malta ahead of Zilver Boko, Oscar de la Vallee and Lime Casted, in the best time among the Condition Race Finals of 1’17’0 per kilometre.
Lovely Mab and Confidence As challenged each other during the last few hundred metres of the Vida Silver A Class Condition Race final, with the former pulling away midway through the final straight to register its second consecutive and seasonal win ahead of Confidence As, Charlie Smitt and Mint Condition.
In the TRM Silver B Class Condition Race final, Lonestar Somolli claimed its third consecutive and seasonal win by about one and a half lengths, after a head to head tussle in the final straight between no less than four horses. Meadow Dancer, Cross Country F.C. and Phenix d’Or finished immediately behind the winner in that order.
Ackaturbo dominated the Finish Line Bronze Class Condition Race final practically from start to finish, registering its second consecutive and seasonal win from Robin Lou, Belbroughton Road and It’s My Way.
Congratulations also go to Kejser Engely which won the Paul & Shark Copper Class Condition Race final, taking its second consecutive win by about eight lengths after a strong acceleration in the last half lap.
The “normal” races were won by L’Ideal de Fersan (Silver class) and Hulegardens Filur (Copper class), both at their first seasonal win.
More success for Michael Sultana overseas
Maltese jockey Michael Sultana, currently leading the Maltese Best Jockey classification 2012, participated in four races in Mons, Belgium last Monday, with two of his charges finishing 2nd and 4th respectively.
Well done Michael and we wish you more success in the future! Continue giving a good account of yourself and to project the best possible image of Malta both in terms of competence as well as sportsmanship.
Driver of the Month Award - March
The Driver of the Month Award for March has been won by Charles Camilleri on the basis of the ten wins he registered during that month. He also managed to win no less than four of these races in the meeting held on the 31st March.
Congratulations Charles – well done! Many thanks also to Anthony Axisa & Sons (Ta’ Haxixa) for supporting our sport by sponsoring March’s award.
Centre stage for Swedish trotters
In the guestbook of a leading Maltese trot racing website, someone had once half-jockingly referred to the championships based on nationality as “racism championships”, no doubt referring to the fact that that only horses of a particular nationality/ ies can take part in the particular championship.
I personally think that these championships are an enriching feature of the Maltese trot racing scene because they emphasise the variety existing among the trotters racing in Malta and which enables us to sample the trot tradition of different countries.
Sweden is a Northern European country, whilst Malta is located at Europe’s southern tip – quite a distance between them. Even the weather is typically quite different. However, the number of Swedish trotters racing in Malta creates an interesting link between the two countries.
This phenomenon goes back around 20 years, because even though before there regularly used to be one or two Swedish newcomers a year, it was in 1992 that the first strong contingent of Swedish trotters made their debut in Malta – no less than 36. These then became a constant feature of the Maltese trot racing scene until today.
Last year, we had 81 new Swedish trotters making their local debut, 32% (or around 1 in every 3) of the total number of new trotters.
And these horses have made their presence felt not just in numbers but also in quality. Some won close to or over SEK1 million (a few even going close to or exceeding SEK2 million) overseas and were respected trotters even in the face of the strong competition existing in Swedish racecourses.
We also have a number of Swedish horses making their debut at eight years or younger (54%, quite a healthy percentage, last year) which although naturally typically having less overseas winnings, have the potential and youth to make their mark here in Malta.
Among the now retired Swedish horses, we find some that raced in Malta after winning very close to or more than SEK3 million in Sweden and elsewhere, such as David Ceda, Pilot Kloster, Lovart Sund, Beijing Boy and some others.
Others had a respectable past in Sweden but they shone even more in Malta, either for the number of their race wins (Comfort Me, Super Chic, Prince Tanga, Bisso As and Dicky Hornline have all won 24 races or more here and a number of others have won close to that) or for their local prize winnings (Bisso As, Speedy Bottle, Prince Tanga and Comfort Me have all won more than Euro16,500 (equivalent to over Lm7,000) and various others also had notable winnings).
We say that often “the past is the mirror of the future”. If so, we are convinced that today’s Swedish trotters will make us remember their Swedish compatriots of the past, by providing us with brilliant, fast racing in the coming Skyparks Swedish trotters’ championship.
I wish to wholeheartedly thank expert trot statistician Nicholas Farrugia for the statistical information that he has kindly provided me and which I have used in this article (and in many others).
We wish you all another exciting meeting next Sunday.