Mauritius’ answer to some of the world’s biggest races such as the Epsom Derby, Melbourne Cup, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Kentucky Derby bears down on us. The Air Mauritius Maiden Cup is not a normal classic race. It is The biggest classic of them all and it is a race that has the nation glued to events in this Group 1 contest over 2400 metres. Traditionally held on a Sunday, this classic race at weight-for-age is a true test of endurance, character and heart, and it is one which every jockey and trainer wants to win.

The defending race winner Enaad will be bidding to confirm. Should he do so, he will become the third horse to win this great classic back-to-back, after Lines Of Power and Tahara Maid. There are numerous competitors that stand in his way however, such as The Great One, Dreamforest, Ten Gun Salute and Solar Star. In short, this classic race is expected to be full of drama from start to finish.

While all eyes will be following the big contest, the remaining races on the card all hold plenty of interest as well. As it is Maiden Cup day, all jockeys and trainers will want a piece of the limelight.

Coming into this classic meeting bang on form is Daniel Stackhouse and Gujadhur stable. The New Zealand jockey has done everything spot on since he started riding for Mauritius’ oldest stable. Along with Enaad, he has a good chance on board Sky High Flyer in the 3rd race. This five-year old comes into this race on a hat-trick and is rated as the one to beat, even if he is jumping from the widest draw of all.

After sitting out the previous meeting, Robbie Fradd is back in action for Gilbert Rousset’s yard. The veteran jockey will no doubt fancy his chances on Ten Gun Salute, but he must also be followed on King’s County (Race 2), Bypass (Race 7) and Red Line Captain (Race 8), as all three horses are all rated as good chances.

Looking at the race card, this Sunday could be a red letter day for Tristan Godden and Shirish Narang’s yard. Anton Ruskin (Race 1) and Racing For Fun (Race 3) are rated as strong chances in their respective races, while competitive showings are expected from Barak Lavan (Race 2), Burg (Race 4) and Swinging Captain (Race 7).


Race 1 (0-20)

An ordinary contest to kick off this year’s Maiden Cup meeting and it is worth considering many runners for the opening leg of the Pick 8. #7 Social Network got his first win of the season in his latest thanks to a well-judged ride from Akshay Balloo. This partnership is capable of confirming, especially from the pole position draw. #1 New Golden Age was under-par in his last attempt. He will appreciate running in this lower category and should be competitive from the offset. #4 Nadas is a horse that blows hot and cold. On a good day though, he can be in the shake up. #3 ANTON RUSKIN has had to settle for second best in his last three outings. Still with a zero in his wins column, he can set the record straight here. #8 Vintage Angel is back from a short break and with Brandon Louis on board, he can make his presence felt.


Dangers: #8 Vintage Angel, #7 Social Network, #1 New Golden Age


Race 2 (B.41)

The first leg of the Place Accumulator and numerous runners are worthy of serious consideration. #2 KING’S COUNTY is one of them, after his genuine showing in the final leg of the Three-year old championship. In good nick, he gets the vote here. #4 Antwerp always runs to the best of his ability and he can give the selection something to think about. #5 Barak Lavan has been in the money in all but one of his races in his debut season. This Shirish Narang-trained gelding merits plenty of respect in this contest. #6 Castle remains winless since August 2015, although he has gone close on several occasions. He is not prevented from ending his long drought. #8 Chester’s Wish may not have confirmed in his previous outing, but he caught the eye with his finish, enough to land 3rd place. He will be a big danger in the closing stages once again. #3 Aficionado will appreciate running in this class and improvement is forthcoming from him here.


Dangers: #4 Antwerp, #5 Barak Lavan, #8 Chester’s Wish


Race 3 (B.46)

#5 SKY HIGH FLYER comes into this first leg of the Pick 6 on the back of two impressive wins. Still in top order, he is more than capable of completing his hat-trick, even if he has been drawn widest of all. Should he falter, then #10 Zodiac Jack can pick up the pieces. The Three-year old champion sealed the deal with a very good 3rd place over the mile. Having worked very well, he can renew with success. #2 Burg has been entered again after completed the quartet last Saturday. He warrants serious consideration in this. #3 Choir Of Angels had no answer to Friend Request in his debut showing. He can go one better if he manages to overcome his bad draw. #4 Gimme Green is much better than what he served up last time out, while #8 Mutzi and #1 Promissory are two interesting outsiders.


Dangers: #10 Zodiac Jack, #2 Burg, #3 Choir Of Angels


Race 4 (B.51)

#5 Rap Attack has done everything but score since the very start of the season. He has a good chance of putting that right here. #3 Silver Snaffles was a slight disappointment on Derby day. He returns to Benchmark 51 where he has winning form and if he manages to dictate proceedings, he will be hard to catch. #1 RACING FOR FUN is another class dropper. He was piped by Ideal Secret in Benchmark 56 last time out and he should be able to rebound in this. #2 Sea King landed 3rd place in his debut. He has benefited from that run and his chances must not be scoffed at. For the lower placings, #9 Misty Roller and #1 In The Loop are two good contenders.


Dangers: #5 Rap Attack, #3 Silver Snaffles, #2 Sea King


Race 5 (B.61)

It is said that the smaller the field, the bigger the upset. This logic strongly applies itself in this opening leg of the Pick 4. #6 MOONRISE SENSATION had no problems in doubling the score in the Golden Trophy meeting. He is competing in a far higher Benchmark but on his current form, he is not prevented from completing his hat-trick. However, he won’t have everything in his favour. There is the presence of #2 M L Jet, who this year will be competing in Benchmark 61 after he finished runner-up to Enaad in the Maiden Cup 12 months ago. Not disgraced in his latest, he looks to be in better condition and having landed the pole position draw, he can make it. #1 Easy Lover returns to competition after a very long absence. A place getter in all three classic races last season, he should not be outclassed in this class. #4 Everest and #5 Talbec should fight it out for the lower placing.


Dangers: #2 M L Jet, #1 Easy Lover, #4 Everest


Race 6 – The Air Mauritius Maiden Cup (Group 1)

All attention will be on this great race which features many contenders for victory. #7 The Great One is one of them and returns to competition after his genuine showing in the Derby. He has shown complete satisfaction at track work and even if he is tackling the 2400 metres for the first time, he is more than capable of going very far, particularly if he dictates proceedings. Stable mate #2 ENAAD is the defending race winner and he will be attempting to emulate Tahara Maid and Lines Of Power of winning it back-to-back. Well-trained, he can earn his yard and Daniel Stackhouse yet another Group 1 and classic win. #10 Dreamforest has shown up very well in 2018. Runner-up in his last two attempts, he can make it third time lucky with Cedric Segeon on board. #1 Ten Gun Salute has been well-prepared for this race and he merits the utmost of respect. Golden Trophy winner #4 Solar Star is not without his chances in this, while the claims of #8 Our Emperor and #9 Disco Al must not be scoffed at.

Top Tip: #2 ENAAD

Dangers: #7 The Great One, #10 Dreamforest, #1 Ten Gun Salute


Race 7 (B.36)

#1 Bypass managed to justify his status as favourite in his latest. He remains very well and is capable of confirming. Preference however is for #2 TOA NUI, who made up plenty of ground to finish second to Declarator in his latest. Down a Benchmark, he will also relish the longer trip and he can mount a bold bid here. #4 Jullidar finally managed to strike in his last showing. He remains on good terms with himself and it won’t be a surprise if he doubles the score. #6 Swinging Captain must not be written off here. If ridden well, he can make it. #8 Greatfiveeight did not disgrace himself in his previous attempt, and is rated as a good place bet here.

Top Tip: #2 TOA NUI

Dangers: #1 Bypass, #4 Jullidar, #6 Swinging Captain


Race 8 (B.31)

#3 RED LINE CAPTAIN is tipped to double the score in this final contest of the Maiden Cup meeting. He has progressed further and his yard is confident in his chances. #4 Student Grant was only good enough for 4th in his latest, after scoring a surprising win in his second-to-last start. He looks to be in good shape and is rated as a good chance. #2 Overdose showed improvement in his recent attempt, completing the quartet. His draw may be a concern, but he is not prevented from making his presence felt. #9 Blunderbuss’ recent form makes good reading and is entitled to be right in the mix. #6 Querari’s Secret was a last minute withdrawal in the 18th meeting. It is worth not forgetting his debut run, when he was interfered with twice in the final straight. He appears to be in good shape and form, and if he follows well, he will be a threat in the closing stages.


Dangers: #4 Student Grant, #9 Blunderbuss, #2 Overdose