The final of the Tazza l-Kbira competition, on the long distance of 2,640m, was the main attraction of yesterday’s 17th meeting of the season, made up of eight races for trotters.
French horse Mig Of The Wood, under the guidance of Noel Baldacchino, won the Tazza l-Kbira final in front of one of the largest crowds of the season, further testament to this sport’s popularity on the Maltese islands.
Eleven Premier class trotters lined up for the cup final after popular horse Livi Cantona, one of the pre-race favourites, had to be scratched just a few days before the race.
Before the start, all finalists took part in a parade that also featured two former winners of the Tazza l-Kbira, Uquito d’Orphee and James de l’Iton.
Nuage de Bourgogne (Charles Camilleri) was the fastest horse in the early stages, opening a length lead from Mig Of The Wood and Nabab du Chatelet (Redent Magro).
These three horses continued to set the pace until 700m from the end when another popular horse, True Q (Shawn Portelli), also began to increase its pace.
In the middle of the final straight, Nuage de Bourgogne started to slow down and was overtaken by Mig of The Wood which went on to claim its first win of the season.
Two other French horses, Mystere d’Urfist (Rodney Gatt) and Nelson du Val (Salvu Cutajar) ended third and fourth respectively. The winner clocked an average time of 1.15.4” per kilometre.
After the final, Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport Clyde Puli and Svetlana Bukova, on behalf of sponsors, the Dragonara Casino Lounge and Bistro, presented the prestigious trophy and a cheque of €2,600 to Carmelo Micallef and Melvin Grixti, owners of Mig Of The Wood, and driver Baldacchino.
Baldacchino said that, in the last two weeks, his horse had encountered some difficulties while preparing for the big race.
“Luckily, thanks to my work and the dedication of the horse’s trainer and owners, Mig Of The Wood improved considerably and reached its peak at the right time,” Baldacchino said.
In the first Gold class race, French newcomer Quid de la Nuette (Mark Desira) led all the way to register its first win in Malta by half-a-length from Knockout Molar (Charles Camilleri).
Reado November (Rodney Gatt) and Dialect Af Prinfo (Redent Magro) claimed the other top-four positions.
The second Gold race was similar to the first as Orlando Tejy (Noel Baldacchino) cruised to an emphatic win, its second this season. Orlando Tejy finished ahead of Osiris des Kids (Clint Vassallo) while L’As de Seuilly (Charles Debono) and Delicious Brother (Christian Xerri) were tied for third place.
Yesterday’s card also included two races for Silver class trotters. In the first, French Orlando Dix (Tony Mallia) had to go all out in the last few metres in order to obtain its first win of the season by half-a-length from Pedros Au Top (Brian Zammit) and Super Spot (Joe Muscat). Willesden Hanover (Andre’ Farrugia) was fourth.
Lord Of Rush (Ludvic Ghigo) dashed strongly on the outside, 300m from the finish line of the second Silver class race.
This Danish nine-year-old took its second win of the year from Delvin Brodde (Julian Farrugia), Pared An Hoel (Ivan Bilocca) and Ygor Of Pass (Tony Demanuele).
Another programme at the Marsa Racetrack is scheduled for Sunday. It will comprise a series of Condition Race finals with the first event starting at 2 p.m.
Race 1: Copper, Rybo Patzie (Salvu Vella).
Race 2: Bronze, Owens Kin (Ivan Carabott).
Race 3: Silver, Orlando Dix (Tony Mallia).
Race 4: Bronze, Obelix Blue (Salvu Vella).
Race 5: Gold, Quid de la Nuette (M. Desira).
Race 6: Silver, Lord Of Rush (Ludvic Ghigo).
Race 7: Dragonara Casino t-Tazza l-Kbira final, Mig Of The Wood (Noel Baldacchino).
Race 8: Gold, Orlando Tejy (Noel Baldacchino).