Two race meetings will be held over the coming week, the first on Friday 13th and the other the following Friday 20th July, both starting at 7pm. Each meeting includes seven trot races all on the short 2,140m distance, forming part of the Summer championships.
Indeed, this is the last opportunity for horses participating in these championships to collect points enabling them to qualify for the respective finals.
A Premier class race will be held in each meeting, with each comprising 13 partecipants.
The first includes various horses coming from fine wins and places, such as Oviedo Vici which won and placed in its last three races, Nitesco d’Anthony and Bonus Kall both runners-up in their last race, Veikko Hornline, third in its last race, Sette Giugno Cup and VOB Cup finalist Op Le Cosseen, and all the other extremely valid horses.
Swedish Power Night Star is also registered to debut in this race. Just seven years old, its winnings of SEK569,570 (six wins and various places), with a best time of 1’12’5 per kilometre registered at Halmstad recourse on a 1,609m distance, land it in the Premier class.
The second Premier class race also includes a top class line-up, with horses such as recent VOB Cup winner Label Chouan, last week’s winner Shakira Trot, Milord Barbes, runner-up in the Prix de Vincennes final u third in that of the VOB Cup, Arnie Sensation which won and placed in its last two outings, recent runner-up Maximal Value, last year’s Tazza l-Kbira winner Kakisis, December 2010 Prix de Vincennes winner Mont Cenis Honey and all the other worthy participants.
Three Gold class races will also be held. The first includes horses such as Naja In Blue, winner of its last race, Wim and Reado November, both runners-up in its last two races, together with Key Value which placed in its last race, as well as twelve other horses which are doing their best to reach their best form.
The two Gold class races scheduled for the 20th July also include trotters which had very good performances in their last two outings; horses such as Rambo Lambo, Love Heart and Baron G.L., which won and placed in their last races, Little Nick, Nacarat Campbell and Pouvoir Magique, winners of their respective last race, Netter Williams which won its penultimate race, Hulot, Natif de l’Hommee and Peasant Gallant, runners-up in their last race and various others.
All the other participants could also be equally worthy finalists. Swede Sky Launcher is also expected to compete in its first race in Malta in this class.
The other Summer championship races are four for the Silver class, three for the Bronze class and two for Copper class horses, all of which include various in-form trotters.
At this time of year, as temperatures continue to rise and the season nears the summer break, horse registrations tend to reduce, resulting in shorter meetings. However, these still provide top class entertainment. Indeed the points system leading to the selection of the finalists provides an incentive to all participants to give their best to land one of the places in a final for another prestigious championship ... the Summer championship!
The highlights of the last two meetings were the VOB Cup Grand Final for Premier class trotters as well as the start of the Summer Championships, all on a 2,140m distance.
On the 26th June, the VOB Cup Grand Final saw Milord Barbes taking an early lead and maintaining it until the last phase of the race when it was strongly attacked by Label Chouan (David Ellul). The latter took the lead and then had to resist a strong challenge from Lady de Vindecy in the final metres to finish winner (fifth seasonal win) by a head, in a very good time of 1’15’3 per kilometre.
Lady de Vindecy, Milord Barbes and Count of Life finished behind the winner in that order.
Two Premier class races stole the show in the Summer championships. In the first, Oviedo Vici took an early lead and managed to preserve it till the end, to register its third seasonal win, by around a couple of lengths from Nitesco d’Anthony in a time of 1’15’8 per kilometre. Veikko Hornline and Net de Ginai took the remaining places.
In the second, Arnie Sensation was in front for most of the race but newcomer Shakira Trot attacked strongly in the final straight, took the lead and claimed its first win in Malta, from Bonus Kall, Arnie Sensation and Carnegie Hall, in a time of 1’17’3 per kilometre.
In the first Gold class race, Naja In Blue registered its first seasonal win by just over a length from Reado November, Imbra d’Alfa and Key Value in a time of 1’16’6 per kilometre.
In the second one, Nacarat Campbell celebrated its return to racing after a stop of more than four months by being in the lead for a considerable part of the race and managing to maintain it till the end, to claim the first seasonal win by over two lengths from Natif de l’Hommee, Baron G.L. and L’Ideal de Fersan in 1’17’6 per kilometre.
Little Nick dominated most of the next Gold class race to take its first win in Malta by around a length and a half, in a time of 1’16’0 per kilometre from Hulot, Love Heart and Rambo Lambo.
In the last Gold class race, Pouvoir Magique attacked strongly in the final straight and finished clear winner in the best time of last Friday’s meeting, 1’15’6 per kilometre. It thus registered its first win in Malta from Peasant Gallant and two newcomers, Ozerio and Plaisir d’Amour.
The Silver class races were won by Orage du Pont (first win in Malta), Okilebo de Bremont (second consecutive and seasonal win), Onwards Star (first seasonal win), Napolitano Sun (first seasonal win), West Life (first win in Malta) and Bankir Zon (first seasonal win).
In the Bronze class Qouky du Soir claimed its first win in Malta in a very good time for this class of 1’16’6 per kilometre, which is also its best ever personal time. Ariane A won on its debut, while Super Mack Grocer claimed its first seasonal win and Law Suit its second seasonal win in this class. Royal Qui (second seasonal win) and Loulou de la Rose (first seasonal win) were the winners in the Copper class races.
The Class A flat race on the sprint 1,250m distance saw a triumph for Nuage de la Tour, at its first seasonal win, by around one and a half lengths from Little Anthony.
Driver of the Month Award – June
The Driver of the Month Award for June has been won by Tony Demanuele on the basis of the excellent wins he registered in two finals, i.e. on Zilver Boko in the Sette Giugno Cup and on Icare de Jemma in the Prix de Caen. He also registered seven places during the said month.
Congratulations Tony – well done! Many thanks also to Finish Line for supporting this award by sponsoring June’s edition.
Doping test results
Recently the Malta Racing Club received two doping test results. Unfortunately these disclosed prohibited Category 3 substances in respect of Mig of the Wood, runner-up in the Prix de Vincennes final and Little Anthony, runner-up in the Mediterranean Derby for thoroughbreds.
In addition to other penalties imposed in respect of the said horses, the respective race results have now been changed, i.e. the Prix de Vincennes runner-up is now Milord Barbes, followed by Nevaio des Bordes and Label Chouan in that order, while the Mediterrean Derby runner-up is now Buttermilk followed by Etoile du Pic.
Well done to Michael Sultana and Kimberley Downs
A big well done goes to Michael Sultana who registered a great feat on the 25th June by partnering six-year old US thoroughbred Kimberley Downs to an impressive win at this horse’s first race in Belgium (Oostende) in the Prix Paddock over a 1,800m distance.
We know Kimberly Downs well in Malta, having raced here for around ten months and won six times (including the 2011 Exotique Cup) out of its eight races in Malta and now it has managed to win again overseas.
Well done to its owners and especially to its part-owner, trainer and jockey Michael Sultana for this impressive success.
20 years ago – the first Summer meetings
It was in 1992 that the Malta Racing Club felt that it was time to introduce race meetings in summer. Before then the racing season was quite similar to the scholastic year, ending in mid-June, with a new season typically starting at the beginning of October.
For long years it was felt that the summer heat, the absence of artificial lighting facilities, the relatively limited number of horses and the fact that the Maltese like to enjoy summer Sundays and public holidays (our traditional racing days) by the sea or travelling, did not make summer racing feasible here in Malta.
In 1992, solutions were found to these issues. A limited number of meetings were held and these on weekdays, on Thursdays, but in later years also making use of Tuesdays and Fridays, leaving weekends free.
The start time was 6pm, a time when most working people would have ended their summer working day. The worse of the Mediterranean sun’s glare is typically over by then, but still with two or three hours of sunlight especially in the first half of summer. Meetings would end by around 8pm allowing people to enjoy the remainder of the relaxed Maltese summer evenings.
And last but not least, the growth in the number of racehorses (principally trotters) – incidentally 1992 was also the year in which there was the first marked increase in Swedish trot imports to Malta - and interest from owners contributed to make these Summer meetings a reality.
Twenty years ago, each meeting contained only five races (these would eventually increase particularly from 2003 with the introduction of artificial lighting), being restricted to classes A1 to D (the equivalent of the Premier to Silver classes today). Five meetings were held, the first on Thursday 25th June.
A new championship was introduced for the summer races, i.e. the President’s Cup, which afterwards would acquire an existence independent from the Summer meetings and become one of Malta’s top trot racing honours.
Horses were split between those in classes A1 and A and those in classes B, C and D with finalists being selected through a system of knock-out heats and semi-finals. Two semi-finals were held for classes A1 and A with the first two in each making it to the final, and four semi-finals for the remaining classes from which only the winner qualified for the final.
The finalists were Zito Bob and Waylon Bee (winners of the semi-finals) together with Rio Airlines (scratched in the final) and My Glesca from classes A1 and A, and Riverman, Ricky du Lac, Naldos and Persan de Souvigne, winners of the classes B, C and D semi-finals.
The final was held on the 23rd July with the win going to Swedish Zito Bob driven by Tony Tanti which took the lead around a lap from the end and increased its speed in the final straight to win comfortably. Ricky du Lac and Riverman placed behind it in that order.
This was indeed a finals day, with minor finals also being held for the other individual classes; the winners were Lupin Reel, Quickly de Cornica, Quijan and Rambour.
Here in Malta partly due to the considerable heat, but also perhaps to our mentality and tradition, summer is associated with rest and re-charging energies, both for humans and animals.
So, the introduction of an element of summer racing before the mid-summer break was something innovative at the time (differently from various other countries where racing takes place throughout the year) and indeed even afterwards there were years in which summer racing was not held. Even today, some prefer to rest their horses throughout the summer, which they are perfectly entitled to do.
However, twenty years later, this is an accepted feature of the Maltese racing calendar with the Summer Championship becoming a prestigious championship in its own right. May we have some exciting Summer nights at the racecourse even this year!
We wish you two other exciting meetings.