Driven by owner Johan Axisa, French trotter Kakisis yesterday made good on its tag as firm favourite by winning the final of the Emirates Airline It-Tazza l-Kbira.
Open to horses in the Premier and Gold classes, the final was held on the long distance of 2,640 metres. This much-awaited race formed part of the 16th meeting of the season which was made up of seven all-trotting events.
The Tazza l-Kbira is one of the oldest competitions organised by the Malta Racing Club. The first edition, run in 1934, was won by French Frise Poulet, driven by Paul Galea.
Before the Emirates Cup final, the drivers and owners of the participating horses were presented to the racing enthusiasts at a special ceremony that included a parade in classic Ferrari cars and motorcycles.
Nine horses lined up for this year’s final with the popular In Vitro du Bourg, last year’s winner, at the helm of the official parade of the competing horses.
Lonshults Anders (Shawn Portelli) was one of the fastest horses at the start of the race. It opened a length lead from Madis Boy (Rodney Gatt) and Major Chaleonnais (Charlò Debono).
With a lap to go, Major Chaleonnais raced to the front of the pack but this horse began to slow down 200m from the finish line and was overtaken by Kakisis (Axisa). Kakisis went on to obtain its third win in a row from Lonshults Anders, Lou Petiot, driven by Michael Axisa, the father of the winning driver, and Neo de Mira (George Muscat).
At the end of the race, Johan Axisa was presented with the prestigious cup, a horse blanket and a cheque of €2,500 from Paul Fleri Soler, Emirates Airline manager for Malta and Cyprus. Kakisis clocked an average of 1.17.6” per kilometre.
The other six races, including two for Gold class trotters, were held on the mile distance. In the first Gold race, Swedish Bete Saknussen (Claudio Refalo) cruised to its second win on the trot.
This horse led all the way to finish ahead of Delvin Brodde (Julian Farrugia), Chilly Beast (Herman McKay) and Stanford Hornline (Charlò Debono).
There was a tight finish in the second Gold race when Count Of Life (Michael Ellul) and The Big Blue World (James Briffa) sprinted together in the final metres. The win went to the latter after the photo finish was consulted. Race Ball (Tony Demanuele) and Mage Petteviniere (Brian Hili) were third and fourth respectively.
The next meeting at the Marsa Racetrack will be held next Sunday with the first race, for Copper class trotters, starting at 2 p.m.
Winners at Marsa
Race 1: Copper, Lucky Sam De Court (Noel Baldacchino) – 1.17.4”.
Race 2: Bronze, Boston Harbor (George Attard) – 1.16.2”.
Race 3: Gold, Bete Saknussen (Claudio Refalo) – 1.16.5”.
Race 4: Silver, Maitre de Bannes (Dario Fenech) – 1.14.8”.
Race 5: Gold, The Big Blue World (James Briffa) – 1.15.6”.
Race 6: Emirates Airline It-Tazza l-Kbira final, Kakisis (Johan Axisa) – 1.17.6”.
Race 7: Bronze, Improve Simb (Darren Mizzi) – 1.16.2”.
Originally published in The Times on the 11 April 2011