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Malta Harness Racing Holiday by Raynor Peters

For the first time in many years a group of horse owners and enthusiasts from the Wales and Border Counties and British Harness Racing Associations enjoyed a weeks fun and sun on the beautiful island of Malta. Organised by the Peters family, the group attended two race meetings at the impressive Marsa Race Track in the capitol Valletta. The first meeting on a sultry Friday night was great fun as we were treated to VIP accommodation for a birds eye view of the racing and the goings on of the Maltese public below. A few of the group were successful with the bookmakers and left with a some lira in their pockets.

Sunday's racing was just about bearable in the midday heat, but as long as the drinks kept coming we were all enjoying ourselves too much to complain. It was good to see these horses coping with such extreme temperatures, as they looked much cooler than the spectators did. The organisation at the Marsa track was of a very high standard and kept the atmosphere alive as we watched 17 races over two meetings with varying grades of ability on show. The highlight of the Friday night meet was a Galloping Driven Race that proved very interesting if not awkward to watch, you half expected the drivers to shout WOW! as their horses were galloping on regardless. We all recommend a trip to Marsa's lovely track, if not for the entertainment and racing but for the shopping of interesting and unusual tack and clothing (see John Perk's daughters next year!)

The remainder of our stay in Malta was free time to do what ever we pleased. It was good to meet up in the Hotel restaurant and bars to swap tales of what had been done during the day, some had caught coaches and boats and toured the island to see the beautiful and ancient sites around Malta, the others, especially the ones with children and young teenagers found refuge from the heat in the outdoor lido or on the beach. If water sports are what you like then there was no where better on the island than Mellieha Beach with golden sand and crystal clear water. The children were in heaven as they played in the warm safe water and the bigger kids, i.e Marc Jones, Derek Pritchard, Alan Peters, Jamie Humphreys, James Evans, John Perks, challenged the driver of the speedboat that was pulling the BANANA to not get them off, after fifteen minutes of getting very wet and sore the group of lads excepted defeat and the very nice boat owner went home with all their money in his pocket. I'm not letting the ladies off as they were as equally pathetic but no names mentioned yet!

We were all treated to a complimentary cruise aboard a real pirate ship to the tiny island of Comino to swim and bathe in the stunning Blue Lagoon. When we docked off shore the daredevils jumped ship, literally, to explore the coves and rocky outlets on the island. The fish were friendly and keen to meet us but the highlight of the day was the living room size beech that we all descended on to top up our tans and cool off. A few of the teenagers managed to swim over to another beech, which was quite an achievement due to its distance and depth. After a delicious lunch and relaxing afternoon the boat set sail again for Malta taking in the coast line views that make you want to come back again. On the Tuesday, after some organising, a large group headed off to the Mediterraneo Park so that Daisy Corns and Bethan & Molly Perks could swim with Dolphins. It was a fantastic sight to watch and brought tears to your eyes to see these wild animals being so gently and loving to our children, we all wanted to get in the water and play with them and I'm sure that next time we probably will. A parrot show and sealion show was also on offer but as the day got hotter we left in the early after noon to relax by the hotel pool and have a drink.

The adults who toured the island enjoyed some of the oldest forms of country living that still exist today. Gozo is a sister island to Malta, with an ancient trotting track, the streets and very narrow and life ticks away at the slowest of paces. There are fishing villages and small restaurants. Billy Davies or Maureen Lloyd will be glad to inform anyone who wishes to visit Malta or Gozo of the special places to see and what to expect from these tours.

Our last day in Malta came too soon as we packed up and headed for the airport only to land back in England in a lightening storm. Back on English soil were said our good byes and set off for home already planning for next years trip.

October 2004

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