Yesterday’s meeting at the Marsa Racetrack heralded the start of the 2011 season.
The programme consisted of 10 races, all for trotters, on short distances and included a Premier Class race, six heats from the U*Bet Championship for Swedish horses in the Silver and Bronze classes and a final linked to the MRC Festival organised earlier this month.
The Premier race was won by French trotter Ker Pellois, driven by James Briffa.
Jitterbug (Andrew Farrugia) was first out of the blocks, opening a length lead from Lord The Best (Mark Mifsud) and Love de Fleur (Christian Xerri). But, with 400m to go, Jitterbug began to slow down and was overtaken by Ker Pellois which won by a length from Key Value (Mark Tanti), Le Coup de Foudre (Charles Camilleri) and Loustic d’Anjou (Noel Baldacchino).
The winner clocked an average time of 1.16” per kilometre.
Seven horses lined up for the MRC Festival Amateur Final over a distance of one mile.
The race produced a close finish as Firmin de Socoa (Charles Farrugia) and IP Broadway (Charles Camilleri) sprinted together in the final metres. The verdict went in favour of the latter after the photofinish was consulted. Linus Spot (Spiru Tanti) and Inspector Godiva (Mark Mifsud) finished third and fourth respectively.
Mark Vella, director at the Malta Racing Club Council and Joe Zerafa, the event’s co-ordinator, presented the owners of the winning horse with a new sulky and a trophy.
Swedish horses from the Silver Class took part in three U*Bet Championship heats. Matador Knick (Carmelo Farrugia) claimed the first heat after sprinting well in the last 300 metres.
Bankir Zon (Clint Vassallo) obtained its third win on the trot in the second heat while Energy Launcher (Alex Cortis) finished first in the last Silver Class heat.
In the first heat of the U*Bet Championship for Bronze Class trotters, Rybo Juvel (Julian Farrugia) led all the way. Tintin Haleryd (Clifforty Calleja) and Lady June (Carl Caruana) were the winners of the second and third heats after increasing their speed in the final straight.
The next meeting at Marsa is scheduled for Sunday, starting at 1.30 p.m.
Prix de Belgique
The Prix de Belgique was held at the Vincennes Racetrack in Paris yesterday. Run over a long distance of 2,850m, this race was the fourth and last event in preparation for the famous Prix d’Amerique, to be held at the end of the month.
Swedish Maharajah, under the guidance of Orjan Kilhlstrom, won the Prix de Belgique, clocking an average time of 1.13.1” per kilometre.
French Nuit Torride, Oasis Gede and Quaker Jet claimed the remaining top-four positions.
Race 1: Copper, General (R. Gatt).
Race 2: Silver, Lonestar Somolli (B. Zammit).
Race 3: U*Bet Championship Heat (bronze), Rybo Juvel (J. Farrugia).
Race 4: MRC Festival Amateur Race Final, IP Broadway (C. Camilleri).
Race 5: U*Bet Championship Heat (silver), Matador Knick (C. Farrugia).
Race 6: U*Bet Championship Heat (bronze), Tintin Haleryd (C. Calleja).
Race 7: U*Bet Championship Heat (bronze), Lady June (C. Caruana).
Race 8: Premier, Ker Pellois (J. Briffa).
Race 9: U*Bet Championship Heat (silver), Bankir Zon (C. Vassallo).
Race 10: U*Bet Championship Heat (silver), Energy Launcher (A. Cortis).
Originally published in The Times on the 17 January 2011