Jalfen is the new force in the ‘Président de la République’


Jalfen is the new force in the ‘Président de la République’

Jalfen, a son of the French-born stallion Tidjam Lotois (Tidjani), proved victorious in the most prestigious PA event of the Tunisian calendar, the Grand Prix du Président de la République. The winner’s connections hail from Libya and they vented their joy in the wake of this prestigious victory,

By Mondher Zouiten

After a three month period devoid of competitive action, racing resumed in early June when two weekly meetings became the norm. The Grand Prix du Président de la République (Gr1 PA) weekend usually takes place at the end of May, but it was switched to August 8th and 9th this year, amidst the backdrop of sweltering temperatures (40°C) and a sparse crowd. The 2020 renewal of this feature race was worth 150,000 dirhams, and it drew a field of 17 PA horses aged 4 and above, including a quartet of fillies. Up to half a dozen of the runners had leading chances, and so there was an open feel to the 2,000m (10f) race.

An impressive winner. Essalem (Tashkandi), previously unbeaten in four starts, set a strong gallop. At the halfway stage, Jalfen (Tidjam Lotois) was dashed into the lead by Elyes Maghraoui. Giving chase were the Haras Meddeb duo, Jalnar El Hafsia (Jalnar Al Khalidiah) and Jahed (Jalnar Al Khalidiah), whereas Jasses Essalem (Tashkandi) raced behind this pair. The pacesetter kept his nose in front until the final bend. Jahed, given a vigorous ride by Sylvain Ruis, then made headway. However, Jalfen still had plenty left in the locker, and having got a second wind, his renewed effort at the beginning of the straight irresistibly carried him clear of the rest. He trotted up by seven lengths at the main expense of the strong-finishing Jaied Jedan (Kandar du Falgas). A further three lengths back, Jahed filled the remaining place on the podium, although he certainly paid the price for his vain pursuit of Jalfen. However, he managed to keep the fourth Jasses Essalem at bay by a length. The latter was ridden by the Libyan jockey Khaled Azaiez. The four members of the fairer sex were by and large eclipsed by their male counterparts.

A great career. Notwithstanding the clear cut nature of the race, the domination of Jalfen proved impressive. In the aftermath, the sizeable Libyan contingent which had come along to support the winner, spilled onto the track, and an ambiance which was both joyous and festive ensued. Jalfen (Tidjam Lotois) is owned by the Libyan national Miftah Betamar and he is trained by Hamza Rajhi. He began his racing career as a 3-year-old during the spring, when he reeled off three successive wins over trips ranging from 1,400m (7f) to 1,600m (1m). His return third in the autumn catapulted him to consecutive wins, including the Critérium (Gr1 PA, 1,600m). (1m). He was also second to the older Issarab (Kandar du Falgas) in the Grand Prix de l’Agriculture (Gr1 PA, 2,000m). (10f). He returned to action on March 15th when beaten a short head by Joussour El Arab (Djelmane), before going one better in the prep race for the Grand Prix du Président de la République, the Prix du Haras de Benguardane (Gr2 PA, 2,000m) (10f).

Halem sprouts wings in the Grand Prix de Carthage. Twenty four hours earlier, the 12- runner Grand Prix de Carthage (Gr3 PA) took pride of place. This ‘international’ event carried a purse of 120,000 dirhams and was run over 2,000m (10f). It was to prove easy pickings for the 6-y-old chestnut Halem (Tidjam Lotois). The winner is owned by Walid Taieb. Jockey Khaled Mahfoudh got the waiting tactics spot-on aboard the winner, as the combination pulled six lengths clear of the 5-year-old Il Mourtajez (Kandar du Falgas). The 6-year-old Houmayzi (Al Nasr) was a further two lengths adrift in third. The Derby des 3ans (Gr1 PA, 1,700m) (8 1/2f) for Tunisian-bred PA horses drew a field of 15. It went the way of the grey Kalatous Al Chaambi (Derbes) following a fierce struggle. Ridden by Ghofrane Ghrissi, the latter triumphed at the main expense of the chestnut Kahlet Larmech (El Khir), as he made it four wins in as many career starts.

Sylvain Ruis had an armchair ride in the Prix de l’Anad (Gr2 PA), a race open to PA fillies and mares aged and four above, after steering the five-year-old grey distaffer Insijama (Jalnar Al Khalidiah) to an easy victory.

Mozar Lux dominates in the English thoroughbreds’ division. The Derby des 3ans (Gr1 local, 2,000m) (10f) was the exclusive province of Tunisian-born and bred horses, and it carried a purse of 70,000 dirhams. A field of ten battled it out and Mozart Lux (Mingun), bred by the Haras Agrolux and ridden by Khaled Horchani, turned on the style. For on reaching the line, he had drawn seven lengths clear of the Prix d’Essai victor Manduro Lux (Pedro the Great). Heloise (Red Dubawi), the star draw of the fillies’ division, and Veine (Hurricane Alan), the mount of Sylvain Ruis, respectively filled third and fourth.

The Prix de Cagnes-sur-Mer (Gr1 local, 2,200m) (11f) was open to foreign horses and seven went to post. The 5-year-old Quieta (Declaration of War), carrying the ‘Libyan’ colours of Younes Haman and ridden by Khaled Horchani, landed the spoils.