Deauville’s August festival maybe in full swing but this weekends racing in Italy has nothing to be envious in terms of being cosmopolitan. Merano’s marvellous two day meeting on Sunday and Monday with top class racing on the flat and over jumps attract’s runners from the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and France as well as Italy. Livorno’s famous Coppa Del Mare (HPB) which should reach an exciting finish just before midnight on Sunday night is another big attraction on a weekend in which one of Italy’s less fashionable tracks gave everybody a taste of how to make “Galoppo” truly popular in its region.
Corridonia is a town of approximately 16000 inhabitants in the province of Macerata not far from the beautiful Adriatic coast. On Thursday night it appears that most of that population were at the Ippodromo Martini to enjoy the Premio Citta Di Corridonia over 2150 metres when Gianpasquale Fois brought the aptly named The Dark Side with a perfectly timed run to edge out the Stonecross Stud bred Pinky Guy and the John O Connor bred Infinity Focus.The latter two saw their places reversed after an enquiry. The Dark Side a son of Principe Adepto winner of the 2013 Carlo Vittadini(G2) was winning for the fifth time in 2022. A marvellous occasion enjoyed by a multitude who also enjoyed a double by Argentine trainer Luis Acuna whose Tempo Di Renaccio is a three year old with a lot of potential. He is by Kings Trial another son of Deep Impact standing in Italy, who simply cruised home winning by seven lenghts in the last race of the night despite lumping 62 kilos. One to watch.
Livorno will offer a similar a similar spectacle with the added advantage of sea air on Sunday.The seventy seventh Coppa Del Mare (HPB 2250m) should be off just after 23.15 with a big Tuscan crowd expected. Alduino Botti appears to have the key to the race with the two principle protagonists of the Premio Soragna (1800m HPB Naples) when Alma Hera (bred by the Irish National Stud) narrowly defeated her stablemate Midnight Season.The top weight is now 4.5 kilos better off with Salvatore Sulas now riding the War Command filly. Midnight Season runner up in the Ippolito Fassati to Cantocorale in 2021 is clearly the class horse of the field but over 450 metres further against high class proven stayers such as Caterpillar representing the Turri/Galmarini team and Fambrus hero of the 2021 Coppa D’Oro(LR 3000m) she wont have it easy. A very interersting runner is Lord Grey a three year old son of Markaz out of a Hawk Wing mare bred by Paul Monaghan who has cantered home in his last two races here over 1950 metres. A very tough race to call but perhaps Sulas has made the right decision.
The Sardinian jockey has chosen Sweet Lord in the Criterium Labronico rather than Bay Heaven.Sweet Lord was an impressive winner on his only start and is from a very good Italian family. Another colt who made an impressive debut is Carnevale by Holy Ballet a son of the great mare Holy Moon.This is a big step up in class for Eleanora Ciacci’s juvenile who however did win over the course and distance. Sebastiano Guerrieri sends Calajunco from Rome and any juvenile from that stable deserves the utmost respect.
Merano stages probably the best mixed card of the year with champions such as L’Estran, Notti Magiche and Mauricius on the “Ostacoli” and Azteco on the flat.The latter rather surprisingly contests the Premio Merano(LR 2400m) where he will face challengers from France,Germany and the Czech republic as well as a couple of other Italians. Although winning the Premio Carlo D’Alessio(G3) over this trip the son of Fastnet Rock looked happier in the St Leger (G3 3000m),the Roma Vecchia (LR 2800m) and most recently the Coppa D’Oro (LR 3000m).
Without too many opportunities at the longer distances at home and with Botti’s well known reluctance to leave Italy, Atzeco an Italian champion on the flat arrives at the home of Italian National Hunt to hopefully win Maia’s biggest race on the level.
However at this distance German challengers deserve the utmost respect with Andreas Wohler’s Camelot colt Panjari a winner at Baden Baden over 2400 metres in May before being runner up at Hamburg over a furlong less a candidate.
Theodora trained by Waldemar Hickst placed in the Grosser Preis Von Hanover in May is another to keep an eye on as is the Czech challenger Gasparini fresh from winning the Slovak Derby a local group 3 (2400m) at Bratislava.
Jacksun a six time winner in France is not to be discounted nor Rajani OR 110 when winning the Prix Le Fabuleux(LR) and now with Raffaele Romano as well as Halimi a five time winner in Britain before joining Grizzetti Galoppo.
Even with giving weight all round over a trip short of his best Atzeco to add to his reputation.
The fillies equivalent the Premio Terme Di Merano(LR 2250m) is an intriguing contest where the Ralf Rohne trained Norge will start favourite. Fresh from winning the Premio del Giubileo(G3 2000m) last time out the daughter of Dylan Thomas-Nazbanou) will be the one to beat here. Nazbanou won this race in 2016 and her son Narik (Ruler Of The World) is a contender for the Grosser Preis Del Berlin(G1) on Sunday. Lyrical actually beat Norge in the Premio Mezzanotte(LR 2200m) on her last run and Alduino Botti’s filly is actually two kilos better off here. Stablemate Zanfogna third on that occasion and Cima Star fourth are also better in re the German filly. Markus Klug sends the beautifully bred Accola fourth last time out in a 2000m G3. She a sister to German derby third Accon and the G2 winner Amorella.
Astoria from France and the Czech challenger Wellunca are others to be considered but Norge to emulate her mother.
The top two chasers in the Creme Anglaise(LR chase 3800m) have won almost €1 million between them in two superb careers.L’Estran is arguably the best chaser in Europe outside France and Ireland and is using this race as the preparation for an attempt at winning the Gran Premio Di Merano(G1 5000m) for a fourth consecutive time. The nine year old son of Linda’s Lad has not been defeated since June 2020 over two years ago and his conqueror on that occasion the magnificent warrior Notti Magiche will try to do so again on Monday.
Notti Magiche now twelve a nineteen time winner including six group 1 steeplechases is a top class performer in his own right as is the Czech challnger First Of All but the Scuderia Aichner/Josef Vana Junior star to limber up perfectly for Central Europes greatest National Hunt prize.
The hurdle equivalent the Premio Ristorante Roessl(3300m) should give us an insight into the G1 Gran Corsa Siepi Di Merano. Mauricius a six year old son of Kapgarde is already the winner of the Group 1 Gran Corsa Siepi Nazionale at Pisa and the Gran Corsa Siepi Di Milano and is the obvious successor to last years champion Live Your Life.
Zanini was runner up in the 2021 Siepi di Merano and Edinson are two more Aichner/Vana Junior challengers.The Polish runner Ambrosius and Raffaele Romano’s Namoum are others to consider but the latters O Juke is the dark horse in the field.The 2018 St Leger winner on the flat made his belated hurdling debut in the Premio Cogne in May when he got the better of Zio Reginaldo.The latter has certainly franked the form since but the son of Jukebox Jury is being thrown in here. Mauricius to win but keep watch on O Juke.
The Premio Delle Alpi(HPC 1600m) and no less than half a dozen juvenile races over the weekend are of interest on a terrific few days of action.
VIDEO: L’Estran completes his hat trick of wins in the Gran Premio Di Merano(G1 5000m)