The Kaisser du Falgas-Thibault Speicher combination win the Tunisian leg of The UAE President Cup


The Kaisser du Falgas-Thibault Speicher combination win the Tunisian leg of The UAE President Cup

by Mondher Zouiten

Kassar-Said racecourse, splendid in appearance, hosted its first race meeting sponsored by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sunday 28th November, where the UAE President Cup (Gr1 PA - 2,000m) for 4 year-olds and above carried a purse of 85,000 Tunisian Dinars. The piece de résistance on the card, it attracted a field of 15. Although the anti-Covid health protocols prevented the arrival of horses from two neighbouring countries (Algeria and Libya). Entrusted to jockey Thibault Speicher, the 4-year-old Kaisser du Falgas (Kandar du Falgas) won in good style after a well-judged waiting race with a finishing burst to match. He won by five lengths after mastering the 5-year-old Jahed (Jalnar Al Khalidiah), ridden by Alexandre Roussel – a regular visitor to these parts. The 6-year-old Irak (Muqatil Al Khalidiah), ridden by Aymen Nefzi, took minor honours. Another 6-year-old Istimara (Madjani), the only representative of the fairer sex in the race, and the mount of Yohann Bourgois, finished fourth – a place in front of the 4-year-old Khaddem (Muqatil Al Khalidiah). The latter cut out the donkey work under Pierre Bazire.

Out of Chiame Al Badr (Gipten), the winner is owned by Najib Jebabli and trained by Mongi Merdassi, a Tunisian ex-jockey who had a long-standing career in Saudi Arabia. The horse’s CV reads six wins and three places in nine career starts, including a Gr2 PA (2,000m) win in the spring, plus a Gr3 PA (1,600m) return victory in October. It was a source of great satisfaction for Thibault Speicher as this was his first ride in Tunisia. Faisal Al Rahmani, the president of IFHAR, presented the trophies to the winning connections. 

The nine runner Gr1 PA Prix Aziza Othmana (2.000m) for fillies and mares gave rise to a  hard-fought finish. The 4-year-old Kadira (Munjiz), very much the punters’ choice, won by a head with Elyes Maghraoui up. She repelled the last ditch effort of Kifetna (Kandar du Falgas), who was given an energetic ride by Khaled Horchani. The winner, owned by her breeder Meddeb Stud, is trained by Sahbi Rajhi.

The Gr1 PA Prix Hedi Driss (1.700m) was restricted to PA horses exclusively bred in Tunisia,

and was won by the 3-year-old Lammah El Hosn (Rafii). He won by six lengths from his fellow 3-year-old Laklouka (Moussoul), with the 5-year-old Jawi (Moussoul) in third. In the 3-year-old division, the Prix Godolphin Arabian (Gr1 PA - 1.600m), was dominated by Lakhder (Baseqq Al Khalidiah) following a confident ride from Elyes Maghraoui. He won by ten lengths. Completing a four timer, the colt owned by the Haras Meddeb, clearly has a great future ahead of him. The equivalent for fillies, the Prix Othman Rajhi (Gr1 - 1.600m), enabled the unbeaten Labouet Essalem (Hakim du Bac), ridden by Khaled Horchani, to score a sixth consecutive success. However, it was a hard fought win, and it was necessary to wait for a print of the photo finish before confirming her victory which was gained by a nose at the main expense of Ladhikia (Muneef), who responded really well to Yohann Bourgois! The promising winner belongs to the Libyan national Beshir Ben Ayad Essalem. It was a good day for this owner, whose colours also triumphed in the Prix Abdelhafidh Kaddour (Gr1 local - 2.200m) for locally bred English thoroughbreds aged three and above (14 runners). This race was annexed by the 3-year-old Kaldoun Lux (Archange d'Or), although he had to dig deep under a tonic Khaled Horchani. He won by a neck after outpointing the Alexandre Roussel-ridden 6-year-old Los Angeles (Camelot). Six lengths further back, the 6-year-old Irish Café (Fuissé) took third. This gala occasion, attended by a large and enthusiastic crowd, gave some hope to the sector’s professionals which suffers from a crucial lack of resources, as the Société des Courses de Tunis has been plagued by severe financial problems for several years, 

which has led to severe delays when it has come to the payment of prize money and premiums. In fact, prize money level cuts came into operation for this particular meeting, and the number of races on the card was similarly reduced. The tax levied on punters' winnings, coupled to the poor management of the PMU (Pari-Mutuel), the local tote, have served to encourage illegal gambling, and have prompted the recent arrival on the market of private operators which take bets over the phone. The machines designed to take bets on the Tunisian PMU – under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance – and acquired from the Carrus Group some 20 years ago are practically not fit for purpose. An international tender for the acquisition of new equipment was submitted five years ago, but the bidding process has been postponed several times now.

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