Yesterday’s meeting at the Marsa Racetrack heralded the start of the new Assikura Championships which are open for horses that are neither of French or Swedish origins.
These championships started with four semi-final races on a short distance of 2,140m in a card that was contained seven events including a Premier Class race on a long distance of 2,640m.
Thirteen horses lined up for the Premier race.
Here, French Nuage de Bourgogne (Charles Camilleri) was unchallenged for the entire distance as this horse led all the way for its first win at Marsa, finishing some ten lengths ahead of Candy Fantasy (Melvin Farrugia).
Nuage de Bourgogne clocked an average time of 1.17.1” per kilo-metre.
From the two Assikura ‘A’ Championship semi-finals, ten horses qualified for the final race.
There was a keen tussle between three trotters in the first heat from this category. In the end, it was Indian Attack (Rodney Gatt) which secured its first win of the year from favourite Zilver Boko (Tony Demanuele) and Reado November (Shawn Portelli).
Darco As (Mark Tanti) and Socrates (James Briffa) claimed the other top positions.
There was a close finish in the other ‘A’ semi-final as Knockout Molar (Rodney Gatt) and Count of Life (Charles Camilleri) sprinted neck-and-neck in the final straight.
The win was eventually awarded to Knockout Molar after the photo-finish was consulted by the judges.
US newcomer Side Spin (Julian Farrugia), Newman (Kevin Sciberras) and Big Hit (Charlo Debono) also made it to the final.
In the opening ‘B’ semi-final, Ackaturbo (Peter Paul Said) was unable to keep the pace and started to slow down midway through the straight. This Belgian newcomer was overtaken by Danish mare Lady Holmely (Jeffrey Said), the eventual winner.
Garden Pax (Charles Camilleri), Joker Pitstop (Mark Mifsud) and Klokkeblomst (George Attard) also qualified.
Giant Game (Darren Mizzi) surrendered the lead to favourite Morgan Kane (Shawn Portelli) 100m from the end of the second ‘B’ semi-final yesterday.
Morgan Kane went on to record its second win in a row with Hawkear (Rodney Gatt), Splanky (Dario Fenech) and Prince Regent (Tony Demanuele) also making it to the next stage.
In the only flat race of the afternoon, Kimberley Downs (Michael Sultana) ran untroubled to finish first ahead of Ollie Fliptrik (Oliver Briffa) by no fewer than five lengths.
Another racing programme will be held next Friday, starting at 1.30 p.m.
It was announced yesterday that popular veteran trainer and driver George Schembri had died at Marsa.
Schembri, commonly known as Il-Bubuna, was considered among the best drivers ever at Marsa.
In the 1980s and 1990s, he won a series of important finals at the racetrack and in recent years he also represented owners and drivers at the Malta Racing Club executive council.
Race 1: Bronze, Noe de Loudat (Kevin Sciberras).
Race 2: Assikura SF, Lady Holmely (Jeffrey Said).
Race 3: Flat, Kimberley Downs (Michael Sultana).
Race 4: Assikura SF, Morgan Kane (Shawn Portelli).
Race 5: Assikura SF, Indian Attack (Rodney Gatt).
Race 6: Premier, Nuage de Bourgogne (Charles Camilleri).
Race 7: Assikura SF, Knockout Molar (Rodney Gatt).