Mauritius: Frankie Comes To Hollywood

International Jockey Test excites, but hard times forces Fok stable closure

Some tremendous performances  by Disa Leader and outstanding jockeyship by Irishman  Robbie Burke to clinch the jockey title will be the highlights of a wonderful season of exciting horseracing  that includes a visit by Frankie Dettori this weekend. These will hopefully overshadow the shocking news that the Fok Stable, who have four Maiden Cups and many other Group winners to their credit,  will not be renewing their licence in 2011 after a quarter of a century of sending out winners in Mauritius.

We live in trying times of extreme change and uncertainty but the announcement by the Fok yard still comes as a surprise and shock and we hope to report on the full story in the next few weeks. In  the meanwhile, Irish jockey Robbie Burke had long sown up the jockey title but went to work on Saturday with the intention of boosting the Trainer log position of  his employer, the Maigrot yard. And his mission proved a success as he managed two wins,  including the main event of the day, and together with  Apprentice Roby Bheekary, who  secured a third win for the stable , they snatched  the second place away from the

Serge Henry stable.  On the day, Johnny Geroudis won on the hot favorite, Volte Face, Nishal Teeha and Rye Joorawon had a winner apiece with L’Homme and Monsieur Dane respectively , while  French jockey, Edouard Lacaille was all smile after he won on the outsider, The Money Is Yours and Glen Hatt closed the season with a Royal Ransom of note!.


The Maigrot stable had two runners in the main race in Summer Exposure and Cormorant Pass. Summer Exposure drifted from an opening call of 2-1 to start at 5-1. From the jump, Summer Exposure showed good early pace to hit the front but Robbie Burke eased him slightly to allow Prince Paseo to set the pace. Just off the front two, Hatt had African Dancer loping along on the outside of Wolfe Tone, with Stateship, Cult Status and American Emblem further back.  Prince Paseo set a steady pace but in the back straight his jockey Imran Chisty suffered the misfortune of his  saddle slipping. These  positions did not change until the 400 metres mark where Prince Paseo started to hang badly. At this point Summer Exposure quickened well to hit the front easily, while African Dancer stayed on one- paced and with  Cult Status looking a threat when entering the final straight.


Under an energetic ride by Robbie Burke, Summer Exposure kept going nicely but Cult Status was making ground fast. Summer Exposure did not weaken though and passed the line with a half a length to spare  on Cult Status,  whilst Cormorant Pass,  who came from far back,  finished a good third. Robbie Burke easily won the opening race with the  newcomer, Addition after he had  travelled in second place  throughout. Addition accelerated well at the beginning of the final straight to win by more than two lengths from Hopes And Desires.

Johnny Geroudis,  who has confirmed that he should be returning for the Gilbert Rousset outfit next season,  added a nineteenth win to his season total. . This is quite an achievement when one considers the fact that the South African jockey only arrived in  Mauritius  at the end of  July. Geroudis won from pillar to post on the hot favorite Volte Face in the fourth race. Hatton finished a non-threatening  second , whilst Alarming Swing and Richard Fourie were very unlucky as they he did not have a clear run and had to be content  with the third place.


Rye Joorawon,  who was suspended for a period of three weeks for having not ridden Baraloche to the satisfaction of the Racing Stewards in our 34th race meeting,  lodged an appeal against the sanction. He was thus able to ride on Saturday and won a good race on the Gujadhur charge, Monsieur Dane. The win proved that there may have been some substance in the Gaëtan Faucon enquiry a month ago. Trainer Ramapatee Gujadhur had declared that the race in question had been rigged. In any event, Monsieur Dane went from pillar to post on Saturday to win easily. Key Of Gold with Vinay Naiko aboard finished second. Nishal Teeha won the second race  for the Ramdour stable with L’Homme.  In a very quiet season this was a lifesaver of sorts as it was only their fourth winner. Teeha, who was traveling in midfield from the start,  made a tactical move in the back straight when the pace slowed. L’Homme thus hit the front and was kept going well to pass the winning post first. There was some inspired and  heavy betting activity on L’Homme and his price firmed from 12-1 to 5-1 in just one day! The other Mauritian to visit the winner’s enclosure was apprentice Roby Bheekary who rode  Chequer to win the seventh race. Bheekary did a sterling job to overcome a very wide draw  and have his mount in second position and one off the fence. Pacemaker Woodi Allain  tried to make every post a winning one,  but he weakened in the final  50 metres and Chequer,  who was carrying only 53kg, finished the better to win well.

French jockey Edouard Lacaille, who was recently fired by the Ramdour stable, managed to pick up a few rides from the Serge Henry stable and won the third race on The Money Is Yours. The gelding travelled in third position throughout on the rail and proved to be the stronger finisher in the final straight to win very well. Richard Fourie brought Count Me In from last to finished second. Glen Hatt ended the season on a high note when he rode the winner of the final race on the hot favourite , Royal Ransom . He travelled in midfield throughout and in stark contrast to his last start,  Hatt waited until the beginning of the final straight to put his mount under pressure. Royal Ransom then kicked on nicely to beat Lizard’s Lust  with ease. .


In an announcement that has shocked Mauritius horseracing, one of our most powerful stables is to close its doors.  The Fok yard will sadly be no more in 2011. Budheswar Gujadhur, the trainer and Guy Fok, manager of the stable have already informed the MTC that they are not going to renew their licences for the 2011 season. Though the stable has never managed to win the championship  since its establishment in 1985, it is among the most popular on the island and is an outfit for which many top jockeys from South Africa and Australia have come to ride. They have also won many classic races: The Maiden Cup (four times) with Studded Chalice (1997), Mast Abeam (1999), Have Mercy (2003 and 2005). The Barbé Cup with Evader (1992), Empire State (1993), Champion Warrior (1995) and Oakney Islands (1996) and The Gold Cup with Studded Chalice in 1997.  The reasons behind their decision are not clear at time of going to press.

Both Cédric Ségéon and Johnny Geroudis have declined the MTC invitation  to serve as reserve jockeys for this weekend’s  International Jockeys’ Test.  Both jockeys will already be on South African soil when the Sporting Post hits the streets this week.

Cathy O’Hara, the promising Australian female apprentice jockey has informed the MTC that she will not be participating in the International Jockeys’ Weekend for personal reasons. She has been replaced by young South African apprentice Grant Van Niekerk.

The draw ceremony for the International Jockeys’ Weekend will be held at the Touessrok Hotel in the east of the island on Wednesday at 6 p.m. All the jockeys invited should be in Mauritius by Wednesday.  The Frenchman  Stéphane Pasquier, who was last year’s  champion and the legendary Lanfranco Dettori have been here since Saturday enjoying the sun and beautiful beaches.


Viva Frankie!

The International Jockey Test brings the curtain down on our 2010 season this coming weekend in a two day festival of horseracing, fun  and parties. As the draw and jockey allocation is only being done after we go to press, we are only unable to provide a preview but we suggest that racing enthusiasts consult their usual form guides as full betting facilities will be available. Our advice for punters – Dettori, Dettori, Dettori!

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