Sunday’s horse-racing meeting at the Marsa racetrack will start at 2.30pm and comprises nine trot races, all over a 2,140m distance.
Apart from a “normal” Copper class race, the remaining races are all semi-finals from the SECF championships for French trotters, with the first five from each semi-final making it to the final of the respective class.
The most awaited semi-finals are naturally those from the Prix de Vincennes (Premier class) with nine registered participants in each – there are ten in every semi-final in the other classes. The two line-ups are impressive, with a mix of seasoned performers and recent newcomers, aged between 10 and 13 years, which between them have already won 15 times this year. Half of them have registered a best time of less than 1’16’0 per kilometre this season.
These include the first four placed horses in this year’s Dragonara Tazza l-Kbira final, i.e. Mig of the Wood (two wins this year), Nuage de Bourgogne (five wins), Mystere d’Urfist (five places this year) and Nelson du Val (a win and three places this year), Tazza l-Kbira Consolation Final winner Nasko Pride, Label Chouan (four wins this year), heat winner Nevaio des Bordes (two wins this year) and all the other extremely valid horses.
The Prix d’Enghien (Gold class) semi-finals will bring to our attention another lot of quality horses. Aged between 9 and 13 years, participants Nagano Phedo, Magnifique Sablais, Nuevo Musette, Oros de Reve, Oscar Mati and Ouragan d’Any have already been promoted to the Premier class after their recent bright performances.
Participants have registered no less than 20 wins between them this year and eleven horses have made a best time of less than 1’16’5 per kilometre this season.
Even the Prix de Cabourg (Silver class) semi-finalists are aged between 9 and 13 years. Seven of them have won at least once this year, i.e. Petrus du Vivier, Natif de l’Hommee, Pared An Hoel, Landi Breton, Ocean Brillouard, Ollico Pellois and Oregan de la Foret, authors of 11 wins between them. Twelve of the participants have registered a best time of less than 1’17’0 per kilometre this season.
Finally, the Prix de Cagnes Sur Mer participants have the largest age variance between them, with the youngest being 8 year olds and the oldest being a 16 year old. Two of them, i.e. Noe de Loudat and Notre Joyeux have already won 4 times each this year, whilst It’s My Way, Koko Loco, Mac du Boult, Marchallah and Obelix Blue have won at least once, bringing the total seasonal wins by participants in these semi-finals to 14.
The meeting will also include the presentation of certificates to children and youths who attended the Horse-Racing Academy course this year by Kunsill Malti ghall-Isport chairman Mr Bernard Vassallo as well as a Shetland Pony trot race on a 400m distance in which five of these students will participate.
Four different championships, four different classes ... but each includes some of the best French horses racing in Malta in the respective classes. Extremely balanced and exciting races are anticipated, making this meeting one of the most interesting of the season.
The main attraction of the last two meetings consisted in the three semi-finals held last Sunday from the Sette Giugno Cup reserved for Premier class trotters of all nationalities on a 2,140m distance.
Think Yatzee led the field for most of the first semi-final but could not resist Wiss Night Hawk’s attack around 300 metres from the end, with the latter taking the lead. However Skip Dimanche accelerated impressively in the final straight and beat all and sundry in the final metres to take its first seasonal win by around half a length from Wiss Night Hawk, Livi Cantona and Noble d’Ete which all made it to the final. The winner’s time was 1’16’1 per kilometre.
Nabab du Chatelet made it three seasonal wins in the second semi-final, when it launched its attack on the outer lanes around half a lap from the end, took the lead in the last phase of the race and finished winner by more than a length in a time of 1’17’0 per kilometre. Happiness Photo, Nono de Crouay and Op Le Cosseen also claimed berths in the final.
The best time of the semi-finals was registered in the last one, when after Oviedo Vici had been in front for most of the race, Count of Life took over in the last phase, but Zilver Boko attacked strongly in the final straight to take its fifth seasonal win by about a length in a very good time of 1’15’6 per kilometre. Count of Life, Eastwood OM and Oviedo Vici were the last three to qualify for the Sette Giugno Cup final.
Four “normal” Gold class races were held in these two meetings, with all “normal” races being held over a 2,640m distance. In the first, Ouistiti d’Anjou accelerated well in the last half lap, managed to take the lead in the final straight and claimed its first win in Malta by about a couple of lengths from Victory Farming, Oscar des Racques and Confidence As.
The second saw Natif de l’Hommee taking its second consecutive and seasonal win when it led practically throughout the race and finished around one and a half lengths ahead of runner-up Touch The Diamond, which preceded Deli du Ling and Novak in that order.
Then Night Inlet gained promotion to the Premier class thanks to its first seasonal win when it went in front from the outside lanes around half a lap from the end and ended winner by nearly a couple of lengths from Wim, Energy Launcher and Ouest du Vivier.
Finally, Delvin Brodde registered the best time (1’17’0 per kilometre) on this distance in the last couple of meetings when it took the lead in the last few hundred metres and went on to claim its third seasonal win by over two lengths from Orion du Vaumicel, Reado November and Orion de Chapeau.
All the Silver class races resulted in “first wins”. Ouragan de Crouay, newcomer Cal Win (SE), which participated in its race coming in as a reserve (German Why Not As also made its debut in this race coming in as a reserve), Enjoy Kronos and Jill Vox all took their first win in Malta, whilst Ouragan de Valsoiz claimed its first seasonal win.
The other races were won by Widget, Law Suit and Mezio Josselyn in the Bronze class and Malta Sara B., Vera L.H., Royal Qui and Roger Qui in the Copper class.
Doping test results
Recently the Malta Racing Club received four doping test results relative to participants in the Skyparks championships finals for Swedish trotters held on the 6th May. Congratulations go to the owners and trainers of Lover Boy Index (Gold class), Victory Farming (Silver class) and Nicole L.H. (Bronze class), whose results confirmed that they were all clean from prohibited substances.
Unfortunately the remaining test disclosed prohibited Category 3 substances in respect of the Copper class championship winner Trick The Lind. In addition to other penalties imposed in respect of the said horse, the race result has now been changed, with the winner becoming Emil Brebro (followed by Pine Wood Harry, Dollas As and Glenn Healy).
6th June 1982 – an anniversary for a memorable horse
The race meeting held on 6th June 1982 – exactly 30 years ago – was not a ”normal” meeting. In it were scheduled two important races in that year’s racing calendar, i.e. the Mediterranean Derby and the Pritzlaff championship final.
At the same time, in Malta political issues typically dominated the daily news, on an international level, the world was eagerly following the development of the Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina whilst awaiting the start of the 1982 World Cup in Spain a week later.
By that time, flat racing had already been eclipsed in popularity by trot racing, but the Mediterranean Derby, the main flat racing trophy in Malta with its long and chequered history, still retained its appeal.
Eight thoroughbreds took part in the race, with the two main favourites being James Angus and Mickle Fell (even though the choice of favourites was quite debatable due to the horses’ rather inconsistent form that season). The Derby went to five year old Mickle Fell in front of Valdez and Town Master.
The Pritzlaff championship final was open for trotters which did not qualify for that year’s Tazza l-Kbira semi-finals. The participants were also highly rated trotters with this final thus being highly anticipated. The winner was Ismont ahead of Jollus and Herve du Mai – all popular horses.
However, history will remember that meeting for another event that barely received any publicity at the time. In The Times, the day before the meeting, racing commentator Trotter stated tersely:
“The rest of the afternoon’s races, all trotting handicaps, include one race for each of the lower classes, D, C and B, and three Class A races, where a number of new horses, who made their debut last Sunday, will again be racing, while yet more new names will be among the runners in these races, anxious to prove their worth, even if rather late in the season now.”
Among the new names making their debut in Class A on that day, 30 years ago, was a certain eight year old French gelding by the name of Isard du Pont, having a best time of 1’19’5 per kilometre in France. Its first race was nothing to write home about and the following Monday’s racing report did not even refer to it.
However, this small-frame horse known as “Iz-Zghir” or “The small one” (reminding us of a similar nickname held by the dominator of that generation of French trotters, Ideal du Gazeau) would eventually become a major crowd puller in those years and a household name even among people who were not horse-racing enthusiasts.
I remember the crowd murmuring as it came out of the paddock shortly before the start of its races and its cheering as Isard reached the post first in its victorious races.
Its early races did not disclose much of its potential (as had also been the case in its last races in France) and it would need to wait until 13th November 1982 to register its first win, when it had been relegated to Class B. However in the 1982 – 83 season, partnered by its loyal driver Raymond Clifton, Isard du Pont would register no less than 13 wins, a national record of wins in one season that still stands to this day.
It also won prestigious championships such as the VOB Cup, the Safari Cup and the BOV Cup, although it would never win the Tazza l-Kbira. Its best time in Malta was an impressive 1’15’8 per kilometre on 2,150m (a national record on the distance at the time and nearly 4 seconds per km better than its personal record in France) and it continued racing until December 1990 when as a 16 year old, it ended its career with another win, its 26th from just over 100 starts.
It is fitting to give tribute to this horse on the 30th anniversary of its debut ... it captured the public’s imagination and together with others, gave a strong contribution to horse-racing’s remarkable popularity in Malta at that time and remained in racegoers’ memories forever ... a truly memorable horse!
We wish you all an exciting meeting next Sunday.