What a weekend in Italy,the opening two classics of the season in Rome on Sunday attracting 37 runners between them,Two group 1 and five group races over the obstacles at San Siro on the same day and down in Sicily the Premio Citta di Siracusa with a top class group 3 for the older middle distance horses and an important Derby trial at Milan on Saturday.After the withdrawl of Brian Meehans City Runner there will only be six nations represented over the weekend but no other European racing country can attract such cosmopolitan racing.
The Premio Parioli (2000 guineas) is a conumdrum wrapped in an enigma.Best on juvenile form is Agostino Affe’s El Kabeir colt Don Chicco (OR108) winner of the Gran Criterium but he disappointed when only fourth behind Lord Sakay in the Gardone (lr) on April 9.Lord Sakay bred by Aisling Crowe’s Macha Bloodstock had a short head to spare on Alduino Botti’s Vincere Insieme with the German Fire Of The Sun three lengths ahead of Don Chicco.In the champion juveniles defence he was conceding between six and ten pounds and was having his first run in six months.Affe’s colt unfortunately has drawn stall 19 with Lord Sakay
and Fire Of The Sun also not favoured by 16 and 17.Dario Vargiu however will be happy in 2 for the son of Exceed and Excel and Loritania (Teofilo) herself a group 3 winner over 2000 metres.He has won three of his five starts including the Criterium Di Pisa.
Il Grande Gatsby (Churchill) arguably ran the best trial in the Premio Pisa when under Frankie Dettori he was four lengths too good for Bahja Del Sol.He will be ridden by Coolmore’s man in Paris Ioritz Mendizibal who will be happy in stall 8. Bruno Grizzetti runs four, with the jockey arrangements causing a sustained gamble on Chelsea Gardens (Aclaim) chosen by Antonio Fresu ahead of Some Respect third top ranked two year old in 2021.After an impressive maiden win over 1800 metres he was thrown in against Derby joint favourite Arrival in the 2000 metre Guido Clerici.Grizzetti’s colt ran very well finishing fast to be a close third. Whether returning to a mile brings out the best in a son of a Galileo mare we will find out Sunday evening.
Jessica Harringtons forays abroad have been hugely successful over the years and I have no doubt Exquisite Acclaim (Rathbarry Stud) will not be far away. A close fourth behind the Phoenix stakes runner up Dr Zempf in the 2000 guineas trial at Leopardstown the Dundalk six furlong winner will be a bit of an unknown quantity.Nicely drawn in 10 the son of Acclamation and an Exceed and Excel mare has to have stamina doubts but Capannelle’s 1600 metres is not particularly stiff although with a field of 19 a fast pace seems assured. If Exquisite Acclaim wins Jessica Harrington will join Dermot Weld and Kevin Prendergast as the only Irish trainers to win the Parioli. Henk Grewe obviously thinks a lot of See Hector who he gave his debut to in Germanys premier two year old race the Preis der Winterfavoriten where he finished third behind New Bay.Other Irish bred colts with hopes of Classic glory are Come On Captain (Mountarmstrong),Lagomago (Littlejohn B/stock),Mako Ther (Red Coffey)and Kronangel (Platinum Bloodstock). A very difficult race to call but a hesitant vote to Vincere Insieme.
The Regina Elena(1000) is if anything more open.Atamisque (Highland Reel) last years champion two year old filly and winner of the Premio Dormello(G2) returned to action in the Torricola where conceding 6 pounds she was a two and a half length second to Nonna Ercolina trained by Agostino Affe and bred by Ciaran Conway’s Glenvale Stud.Even more disappointing on the day was the Austin Curran bred Prichi back in fourth but she returned to form with a vengeance when she thrashed White Lips and Macasai(Con Marnane) who both run here.EC racing have booked Mendizibal for the Awtaad filly who will be probable favourite.A very interesting runner is the Michael Downey and Peter Kavanagh bred Royal Ashirah (Hot Streak) the fastest two year old filly in Italy last year who also mixed it with the best of the French and English fillies.She returned in the Torre Astura over 1200 metres where she showed herself as good as ever.Sebastiano Guerrieri is a shrewed operator and nobody rides Capannelle better than Carlo Fiocchi although stall 17 wont do her any favours.
There isn’t a more consistent filly than Amalaura four wins and two seconds in six starts and with the benefit of Dario Vargiu dont rule her out.Last time out the Ravens Pass filly won the Premio Seregno from the promising Woman of Ciprea (Aclaim).
Bon Appetit a full sister to the 2021 Derby Italiano winner Tokyo Gold represents France as does the ex Jimmy Coogan trained RP Ryan bred Brazilian Surprise who like Jessie Harringtons Exquisite Acclaim will have Ben Coen in the saddle.
There are two German challengers the best being Atomic Blonde winner of the valuable Preis Dortmund.Again a very open race and perhaps Austin Curran in Dungarvan might be opening a very nice Italian wine on Sunday evening if Prichi can strike glory.
Meanwhile in San Siro on Saturday the now joint derby favourite Arrival(Australia -Alta Fedelta) makes his much awaited appearance in the Emanule Filiberto (Lr) over 2000 metres.The half brother to Brasilian Man will have Dario Vargiu in the saddle and will face stiff opposition from Vecello,Celtico Arcano,Tramaglino his own stablemate Arc On Fire with Cristian Demuro in the saddle as well as the German raider Pirouz fresh from winning the Prix Schneider at Strasbourg.Arrival winner of the Campobello as a juvenile had to be roused by the champion jockey to get the better of Cime Tempestose and Chelsea Gardens in the Guido Clerici over the course and distance but with the run under his belt I take the Australia colt to keep his unbeaten record.
The group 3 Premio Ambrosiano (2000 metres) has a small but very select field with all six runners having winning chances.There will be three home defenders and three foreign raiders lining up with last years highest rated Italian middle distance horse Flag’s Up the likely favourite.Demuro will be in the saddle on the son of War Command fresh from a nice seasonal debut in the Circo Massimo (LR 2000m) where he got the better of Rio Natal and Brasilian Man (Teofilo – Alta Fedelta).The latter a six year old winner of this race two years ago when he was top rated Italian middle distance animal was having his first run in almost a year and is sure to improve.The third Botti runner Brigante Sabino would be favourite over another two furlongs as he was excellent winning both the Gran Premio D’Italia and the Premio Unire in 2021 and made an impressive return in the Regione Toscana all over 2200 or 2400 metres.Over two furlongs less Germanys champion miler Rubaiyat would be the big tip but Henk Grewe thinks that now at five the Vittorio De Capua(G2) and Gran Criterium (G2) winner may stay the extra quarter mile.Dawn Intello brings top French form, winner of the Coupe De Maisons Laffitte (G3) before being third in the Prix Dollar in 2021 he made a very good return to action when second in the Prix D’Harcourt (G2) earning a 117 RPR rating.
Lord Charming makes up the field but is no back runner 4th in the German Derby (G1) and runner up in the Prix du Prince D’Orange (G3) he won the Prix Le Fabuleux over 1800 metres on his return.An intriguing high class contest but I give Cristian Demuro and Flag’s Up a hesitant nod to earn his place among Europe’s top middle distance performers.
I cannot understand how the Italian authorities have the opening two classics of the season on the same day as “Ostacoli’s” biggest day Apart from Merano’s two day September meeting. The Grande Steeple chase Di Milano G1 5000 metres (three miles one furlong) will see the Scuderia Aichner / Josef Vana junior team challenge with youth and experience.The latter comes through the great old veteran Notti Magiche now 12 and the winner of seventeen races worth €350,000.The Montjeu gelding tuned up for today with a cross country win at the end of March. Relative Youth is represented by Sternkranz who has been racing in the Czech Republic,France and Italy over the past six months with good wins at Prague and Pisa.
Fan D’Apples trained by Davide Satalia comes from France on the back of a good win at Strasbourg over 4200 metres. Raffaele Romano will be represented by Bilbo D’Assault who won at Pisa in January but was beaten by Paolo Favero’s five year old Big City over 4000 metres here in April.Both however are entering new territory at 5000 metres so I think Sternkranz to get the better of the French raider.
The Gran Corsa Siepi Di Milano (G1 4000 metres) will have champion hurdler Live Your Life facing up to top class opposition from France, Poland and the Czech republic.Life your Life now eight has sixteen wins over hurdles including four group 1 triumphs.Romano’s son of Turati usually needs a couple of races to reach top form and in 2022 has only had a pipeopener behind Skins Rock and Mauricius two of todays contenders.Davide Satalia comes from France double handed with Espion de Vindecy fresh from a hat trick of wins at Nimes and Nancy.Despite this however his main hope may lie with the brilliant five year old, Why who has won at Dieppe,Pau and most recently at Auteuil over 3600 metres.Live Your Life,Skins Rock and Why to fight out an absorbing battle.
In the other group races I take the Polish challenger Ocean Life to get the better of Callistemon in the G3 Staffe D’Oro chase, but expect Ramuntcho and Berkshire Phoenix to deprive Gregortz Wroblewski of a double in the Giulio Betlingieri (G2) three year old hurdle.However I expect the Polish trainer to win the G2 Corsa Siepi dei 4 anni with the impressive Isatis De L’Ecu who might have most to fear from Favero’s Love Of Zoffany.
VIDEO 1: Vincere Insieme wins the Criterium di Pisa
VIDEO 2: Prichi wins the Premio Saccaroa