The Maiden Cup
(Photo : Mauritius Turf Club)
THE PHOENIX MAIDEN CUP
Champ de Mars, Turf, 2400m
2 September 2012
To most horsemen, a maiden is a race for non-winners, in which you break your “duck”. In Mauritius, the time-honoured race, the one every respectable Mauritian horseman wants to win, is the Maiden Cup, the island’s longest horse race at 2400m. This year, the Mauritius Turf Club celebrated its 200th anniversary, making it the second oldest turf club in the world, and the Maiden Cup is its holy grail.
The 2012 renewal, will be staged this Sunday, 2nd September, and the principal foes are two formers horses who distinguished themselves in the Gold Circle Derby. Il Saggiatore is a son of Galileo, currently the world’s best stallion, and as such, his credentials as a mile and a half horse are undisputed. He showed that with a consummate victory in the Derby under the tutelage of Joey Ramsden, a year before his opponent here, Ice Axe, was a creditable third in the same event. On the bald evidence, you would have to think Il Saggiatore’s credentials were superior, and with an extra year under his belt in the island nation, he has the seasoning and the experience to do it.
Yet there are mitigating factors in Ice Axe’s favour, the first of which is his birthdate (16th December) which suggests that the Gold Circle Derby may have come up a little early in his career, particularly given that he was a somewhat immature sort himself, and the stock of Solskjaer have generally shown a propensity for wanting a little more time. That said, he is a half-brother to a dual Oaks heroine in Icy Air, the Equus champion three-year-old filly of her year, and his granddam, Laughing Music, was a daughter of the great French classic sire, Luthier. In other words, he has the pedigree to go every inch of the way. Toss in the fact that he remains undefeated in three starts in Mauritius, all of them in feature events, and you begin to think that as a just-turned five-year-old, he now has the maturity, the strength and the blood to make a proper fist of the Maiden Cup.
And besides, we all know where Ice Axe came from. Either way, the Maiden Cup will be this weekend’s contest of contests, and for those who have DSTV Channel 232, be sure to tune in, not only for the race, but for the thrill of seeing the biggest Mauritian crowd of the year at play. They love their racing out there more than any country we know, and the Maiden Cup is the zenith of the sport.
P.S. Il Saggiatore is Italian and means “The Assayer”. The book was published in 1623 by Galileo as a polemic against the treatise on the comets of 1618 by Orazio Grassi, a Jesuit mathematician at the Collegio Romano. In this matter Grassi, for all his Aristotelianism, was right and Galileo was wrong. Galileo incorrectly treated the comets as a play of light rather than as real objects.
Ice Axe, refers to a multi purpose tool used by moutaineers to ascend or descend a mountain. We all know he has a mountain to climb, but he has the right tools.
The Phoenix Maiden Cup
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