French jockeys make hay while the sun shines in Tunisia


French jockeys make hay while the sun shines in Tunisia

By Mondher Zouiten

A well-established custom dictates that Tunisian owners and trainers regularly book French riders for the classics. During the Kassar-Said meeting on Sunday, May 26th, the services of seven French jockeys were sought and namely: Antony Crastus, Alexandre Roussel, Sylvain Ruis, Maxime Foulon, Émilien Révolte, Pierre Bazire and Jérôme Claudic.

Antony Crastus made an impact after his mounts easily landed the first two events for Purebred Arabians (PA) (Gr2, 1,600m) following the successes of Ilhem El Khir (Jalnar Al Khalidiah) and Ijtihed (Jamak). Both four-year-olds carry the colours of the Haras Meddeb, the country’s biggest stable, and are trained by Sahbi Rajhi. Sylvain Ruis made his mark by guiding Joundi Al Watan (Jedel) to a stylish success in the Derby des 3ans. (Gr1 PA, 1,700m) for PA horses of Tunisian origin. The winner carries the colours of Mademoiselle Monia Herguel. Issarab (Kandar du Falgas), owned by the Haras Othman Rajhi, was the hot favourite for the feature race on the card. Ridden by Sylvain Ruis, he turned on the style in the Grand Prix du Président de la République - Derby des 4ans de pur-sang arabe (Gr1 PA, 2,000m - 20 runners). Having made a beeline for the lead at halfway, he quickened clear at the distance. Toiling eight lengths in his wake was the filly Irrimel El Badia (Djelmane), the mount of the Brazilian rider Alves de Paiva. Irak (Muqatil Al Khalidiah), ridden by Ali Ben Gouider, was under a length further away in third, having pipped Il Mourtajez (Kandar du Falgas), the mount of Maxime Foulon, for minor honours by a neck. A month earlier, Sylvain Ruis had guided Issarab to score a dominant victory in the prep race for this event.

The top event on the first day of this ‘classic’ weekend, the Grand Prix de Carthage (Gr3 PA, international, 2,000m) for PA four-year-olds, attracted a full house of 20 runners. It gave rise to a stunning performance from the Libyan raider Assayel, whose reputation (28 wins in Libya) preceded him. A son of Tidjam Lotois and the Tunisian mare Aziza, the mount of the Libyan rider Aziza Khaled Azaiez was dashed into the lead at halfway with steely determination. No one was to get near him at the business end as the winner had over five lengths to spare over the chasing Houmayzi (Al Nasr), ridden by Émilien Révolte, at the line. Forsen (Majd Al Arab), the mount of Alves de Paiva, was third. The winner sent the huge Libyan contingent of over 2,000 supporters into raptures on his return to the winner’s circle. Both Assayel and Issarab stopped the clocked at around the 2’27’’ mark, and the rains which didn’t spare the track at the weekend ensured fairly good galloping conditions on the sand course. During the course of the same meeting, Jérôme Claudic proved victorious in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches for PA three-year-old fillies (Gr2 PA, 1,600m) on Jenzia (Djelmane).