Burke narrowly denied Bicentenary Cup success
Report: Mauritius, Saturday
Champ de Mars, Bicentenary of MTC Cup 7½f, good to firm, SH 4yo+
A fast-diminishing head came between Robbie Burke, who forsook a riding career in his native Ireland to find success overseas, and landing the second richest race run in Mauritius on Saturday.
His mount Il Saggiatore, a son of Galileo and unbeaten in three outings on the island but raised 19lb in the process, failed by a narrow margin to handle the concession of 12lb to Ice Axe (Ricky Maingard/Gaetan Faucon).
Ice Axe, like the runner-up an import from South Africa but making his debut, was sent on about 300m from the finish, where Il Saggiatore, having been shuffled to the rear of the field in the early stages from a wide draw, had made stealthy progress but was still a length and a half down.
Il Saggiatore continued to make relentless progress to the line and would have been in front in a few strides, but not where it mattered most.
Burke said: "He was very game, but the weight beat us. He'll be much better suited when we race at level weights for the big races later in the season."
Il Saggiatore will be aimed at the Maiden Cup, at MRs 1.5 million (£31,210) the richest race in the Mauritian calendar. The Bicentenary Cup, the climax of a week-long series of events to celebrate the founding of the Mauritius Turf Club 200 years ago, was worth MRs 1m (£20,800 ) to the connections of former South African Derby winner Ice Axe.
Burke quickly got his retaining stable of Ramatapee Gujadhur on the scoreboard when winning the following Colonel Draper Cup - named after Col Edward Draper, the former British army officer acclaimed as the founding father of horseracing in Mauritius - on Ask The Afghan.