Two horse-racing meetings will be held at the Marsa racetrack over the next week, the first this coming Sunday 20th May, followed by another the following Sunday 27th May. Both are all trot race cards starting at 2pm, with nine races in the first meeting and ten in the second.
The main attraction of these two meetings consists of three semi-finals from the Sette Giugno Cup being held in the 27th May meeting. In its fourth edition (the first two were known as “MRC Premier Trot”), this championship reserved for Premier class trotters and held on a 2,140m distance, continues to attract more participants.
This year we have 36 registered horses (up from 32 last year) spread into 3 semi-finals, with 16 Swedish, 12 French and the remaining 8 horses coming from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
Among the Swedish trotters, we find nearly all the finalists from the recent Skyparks Premier class championship, including the first four, i.e. Wiss Night Hawk, Livi Cantona, True Q and Think Yatzee (winner of the last two editions), the winner of the Skyparks Gold class championship Lover Boy Index, the winner of this honour’s first edition Arnie Sensation, newcomer Maximal Value (previously scratched) and many other interesting horses.
The others include 2011 Tazza l-Kbira winner Kakisis, this year’s Tazza l-Kbira finalists Nabab du Chatelet and Troy Boshoeve, four race winner Zilver Boko and many other popular horses.
This Sunday we have three “normal” Gold class races each having a full field of 16 horses , with another full field of Gold class horses competing in another race next week. These participants hail from 8 different countries and are aged between 8 and 14 years.
They include recent winners Lonestar Somolli (coming from three consecutive wins), Soren Sufflor, Confidence As, L’Alpha de Cosse, Victory Farming, Natif de l’Hommee, Side Spin, Nous Dix de l’Erve, Quid de la Muette, Delvin Brodde and Stefan Sufflor. Danish Neptun Damhus and Finnish Rich Kemp are also registered to debut in this class. Extremely hard-fought races are anticipated.
We also have five balanced Silver class races also full-up with 16 trotters in each. These include many horses which have recently participated in the Skyparks championships for Swedish trotters and the SECF championships for French horses.
Among the horses coming from recent wins we find Skyparks Bronze class championship winner Nicole L.H., Flying As, Lord of Rush, Narcus du Roc, Nasdaq du Closet, Olympic Swing, Orlando Dix, Robin Lou, Stainless Steel and Willesden Hanover. Swedish Cal Win is registered to debut in this class.
The other races consist of four for the Bronze class and three for Copper class trotters. All “normal” races are over a 2,640m distance.
After two championships reserved for trotters of a particular nationality, whether Swedish or French, it is now the turn of a championship open for all nationalities, subject to the crucial requisite that they must be trotters from Malta’s top class. But even the “normal” races include various good quality horses that guarantee further exciting races.
The main attraction in the last meetings was the Skyparks championship final for Premier class Swedish trotters held on Friday on a 2,140m distance.
Utah Hornline was in front for most of the race but it changed pace around half a lap from the end, with the lead at that stage being taken by True Q. However in the final straight Wiss Night Hawk (Noel Baldacchino) launched a powerful attack which led it to take its first seasonal win and claim this championship by over a length from Livi Cantona, True Q and Think Yatzee. The winner’s time was 1’16’8 per kilometre.
The other trot races consisted of heats from the SECF championships reserved for French trotters on a 2,140m distance, from which a number of horses qualified for the semi-finals (and the final in the case of the Prix de Caen – Copper class).
In the first heat from the Prix de Vincennes (Premier class), Nomade de Mai was in the lead for most of the race, but Mig of the Wood was well-placed to launch its attack at the start of the final straight, going on to take its second seasonal win (after the Tazza l-Kbira final) by around two lengths from fellow qualifiers Milord Barbes, Nasko Pride, Nomade de Mai and Onyx Speed, in a time of 1’15’7 per kilometre.
Then it was time to follow the closest finish of the Prix de Vincennes heats, when Nono de Crouay and Nevaio des Bordes challenged each other throughout the final straight with the former crossing the finishing line first by a minimal margin. However Nono de Crouay was subsequently disqualified, with the win being awarded to Nevaio des Bordes (second seasonal win) in front of newcomer Nitesco d’Anthony, Mustang du Don, Mica Bonero and Natif de Salvi which also made it to the semi-finals.
It was then Nuage de Bourgogne’s turn, leading nearly all the way and seeming to find new strength when it was attacked during the final straight, to take its fifth seasonal win by about two lengths from Mystere d’Urfist, Nelson du Val, Natieu d’Echal and Max d’Avignere which also qualified, in a good time of 1’15’3 per kilometre.
In the final Prix de Vincennes heat Label Chouan accelerated strongly in the last half lap to take its fourth seasonal win in a time of 1’16’0 per kilometre, in front of fellow qualifiers newcomer Ouf Boy, Lady de Vindecy, Mark de Chamant and Niky du Donjon.
The best time of the weekend was registered in the Prix d’Enghien (Gold class) by newcomer Oros de Reve in a win by about six lengths in the very good time of 1’15’0 per kilometre.
The other Prix d’Enghien heats were won by Ouragan d’Any (third seasonal win) by a small margin from Okir de Leau, Marini du Mont (first win in the last two years) by about a length from Orlando Tejy, Nagano Phedo (second consecutive and third seasonal win) by a couple of lengths from Nuevo Musette and Magnifique Sablas (first seasonal win) by around half a length from Novak.
Natif de l’Hommee, Pared An Hoel, Ocean Brillouard, Petrus du Vivier and Ollico Pellois won the Prix de Cabourg (Silver class) heats, whilst those from the Prix de Cagnes Sur Mer (Bronze class) were won by Koko Loco, Noe de Loudat, Obelix Blue and Notre Joyeux.
We also have the Prix de Caen finalists which are heats winners Loulou Noir, Lucky Charm and Jibilo du Terme, together with placing horses Mambere, Ideal de Suce, Mirage d’Ete, Mistral du Chene, Icare de Jemma, Qualou d’Axel, Mercure Qui Sait, Minou de Perdriat and Klein Burois.
Mayfair Princess dominated the entire Class A flat race on the sprint distance of 1,250m taking its second consecutive win in comfortable fashion, from newcomer Little Anthony and Nuage de la Tour.
At 13th May meeting, we were all taken aback when we saw the Malta Racing Club flags flying at half mast. On asking why, we were shocked at the news of the death of former driver Mario Bugeja in a terrible workplace accident in Gozo at the young age of 38 years.
We all remember Mario as a good driver at our track where he won nearly 50 races and six championships, with Bisso As and Messie As being the two horses which brought him most honours.
Our sincere condolences to his family, relatives and friends. May he rest in peace.
The Horse Racing Academy
It was a real pleasure to follow the activities and atmosphere during the Horse Racing Academy lesson, when I happened to be at the track last Saturday morning.
An atmosphere which reminded me of football nurseries, with enthusiastic participants, dedicated instructors and parents and relatives following by the sides, encouraging the children and giving them advice (perhaps not always perfectly in line with that of the instructors).
The Academy is a fantastic initiative by the Kunsill Malti Ghall-Isport (prompted mainly by Kenneth Vella’s efforts) in collaboration with the Malta Racing Club, aimed at providing Malta with the drivers and trainers of tomorrow. It is an investment in our children and youths.
Bigger countries are proud of similar academies and publicise them. Thus considering our limited size and resources we should be even prouder of our Academy.
The dedication and patience of veteran instructors Raymond Clifton and Anthony Demanuele is notable, both extremely experienced and knowledgeable. They not only guide the children during the teaching sessions but are also there before and after, making preparations, cleaning up etc.
Nearly 30 children with ages varying from the youngest ones of around 6 years to the older ones of up to 15 years, are participating in this Academy which started in October and will conclude this year’s sessions at the end of May. It is a pleasure to note a healthy mix between boys and girls, providing hope for more female involvement in this sport.
One can easily notice the children making good progress throughout the course.
At the end, students receive a certificate of attendance and are also assessed for their competence and progress. This year’s course is now coming to an end but a new Academy course will start in October.
It is a balanced course split between the theoretical and the practical part, both of which are necessary to have a complete trainer or driver.
Gone are the days when one could have been successful merely by having practical experience. Today we all acknowledge the importance of theory, e.g. learning on horse anatomy, the functions of its organs, different types of training, the importance of taking a racehorse’s temperature, horse-feeding techniques and much more.
The practical aspect is taught on the racecourse itself; a great opportunity for these youngsters to train on our national racetrack, whilst a class has been created and appropriately furnished within the Malta Racing Club’s premises to house the theoretical aspect.
Indeed, a success story which is using home-grown talent to pave the way for a new generation of trainers and drivers. I look forward with satisfaction to the time when some of these students will be collaborating and competing with current trainers and drivers ... and even their instructors.
But the most important feature in my view is that these children and youths enjoy themselves doing an activity of interest for them.
Well done to those who came up with this initiative, promoted it and are now are implementing it, to the dedicated instructors and to the parents and students who are taking part in it.
We wish you all two exciting meetings over the coming week.