There were three main protagonists over the weekends racing in Milan. A veteran speedster who is faster than ever, a youngster who is giving Italian Racing hope and a jockey who brings nothing but pride to aficionados of Galoppo. On Saturday The Conqueror was at a crossroads. The now six year old champion sprinter for the previous two years returned spectacularly in the Premio Certosa but disappointed in the Tudini on Derby day. In Saturdays Premio Bersaglio the old champion seemed to be facing a very difficult task as he had to lumber 61.5 kgs(nine stone ten ) giving between seven and eighteen pounds to seventeen rivals. As if determined to put any doubts out of the way he left the stalls like a bullet and dominated the race from start to finish with only the very fast finishing Mitrandir causing Dario Vargiu the slightest concern. Surely Alduino Botti will now send the horse abroad to conquer as he has won every top sprint in Italy at least once. Despite Marco training in Newmarket and Alessandro in Chantilly the Botti’s are notoriously slow to send their horses abroad. Sopran Vesuvio, Captain Magnum and Sphere Of Fire all ran well enough to demonstrate that the three year olds have plenty of potential. Mitrandir (Bated Breath-Snow Crystal) was a sensation for Luca Sorbino and the five year old twice a winner in Rome already in 2021 and a four time winner over Corridonia’s 1350 metres in 2020 is primed to win a very good prize perhaps over a slightly longer distance.
However its another son of Bated Breath who is exciting Italian Racing fans. Windstormblack created exactly that on his debut in Rome winning in a phenomenal 56,2 seconds over five furlongs. In the Premio Alberto Giubilo over six he put fourteen lengths on Stay Kitten and the offers started to pour into Sebastiano Guerrieri and Melania Cascione. The Roman trainers however had a plan first to Milan for the Primi Passi (Italy’s Middle Park or Phoenix Stakes equivalent) and then to Parigi as the Italians say for the Prix Robert Papin. Traditionally Roman stables find it tough going when they challenge for big prizes in Milan and Guerrieri’s colt had apparently stiff opposition in two other unbeaten colts, Baghed and The Kings Horses as well as Alduino Botti’s filly Lollipop Girl winner of the Vittorio Crespi (Lr) on Derby day. The Bated Breath colt started well and finished better as he put five lengths on Cristian Demuro’s mount Baghed with a further two and a quarter lengths to The Kings Horses. Gabriele Cannarella was riding his first group winner and won’t ride an easier one although I suspect the runner up’s jockey could possibly be on board in Chantilly.
Demuro is loved and respected in Italy and he was unstoppable in the other group races. Wally had won the Prix Edmond Blanc for Jean Claude Rouget getting the measure of Duhail (subsequent winner of the Priz Du Muguet(G2) and The Revenant (Winner of the Queen Elizabeth St(G1) The Siyouni colt then finished only a length off Skaletti in the Prix D’Isaphan(G1) and there are many who believe if Demuro had been on board that gap might have been closed. A worthy favourite then but would he stay the stiff Milan ten furlongs. The main Italian hope Attimo Fuggente best form has all been at a mile or nine furlongs so one had to imagine that one of the German challengers would set a stiff pace but no, it was much more like a day in Longchamp. Three furlongs out Fabio Branca tired of trying to restrain the temperamental Attimo Fuggente and let him strike for home.The Exceed and Excell colt briefly led Grocer Jack but as his stamina gave out Demuro pounced and comfortably held off the renewed challenge of the brave Grocer Jack with Thunderman a distant third. Attimo Fuggente clearly did not stay and as usual Branca was not hard on a beaten horse.Perhaps not a vintage Gran Premio di Milano but the winner gets a 114 rating and according to Demuro is well up to Group 1 standard.
Rouget and Demuro completed a big race double in the fillies Premio Del Giubileo run almost a full second faster than the Gran Premio. The Kodiac filly American Bridge stayed on better than the favourite No Limit Credit (Ioritz Mendizabal) with Stex in third.The latter had set a stiff pace to burn off the Italians who were all doubtful stayers and it worked admirably but first the favourite under Ioritz Mendizabal and then Demuro on Rouget’s filly passed Maikol Abik’s mount. A winner already over nine, ten and twelve furlongs American Bridge looks a filly on the up.
Merano was resplendent for its two day summer meeting and jumping fans enjoyed a feast of good racing.On Saturday seven group 1 winners lined up for the Gran Corsa Siepi D’Italia(G1) but nobody could get near Live Your Life (2014 Turati-Permalosa) who jumped like a stag for Raffaele Romano and easily held off the Polish Champion Skins Rock with the Czech Stuke in third place.This was Live Your Life’s fourteenth victory with well over a quarter of a million won in prize money and I am sure he will be a prime fancy for the Gran Corsa Siepi De Merano in September. Romano’s stable is in tremendous form and Desert Agenda was an impressive winner of the Premio Dei Giovani (Lr) for three year old hurdlers and is a live candidate for the Gran Criterium d’Autunno(G1) the three year old championship race.
The Grande Steeple-Chase D’Europa (G1) over just short of three miles was expected to be a classic between L’Estran winner of the Gran Premio Di Merano’s last two editions, Notti Magiche winner of this race for the past two seasons and the heir apparent Northerly Wind but both L’Estran and Northerly Wind missed the race due to the fast ground leaving the way clear for the wonderful eleven year old to win the race for the third time in a row for the Bolzano based Scuderia Aichner. Not that the race wasn’t full of incident as French challenger Minella For Me came crashing down as did Al Bustan but Notti Magiche had a magical evening and comfortably held off Czech challenger Bugsie Malone and the Polish invader Reki. The Aichner team also won the Group 2 Premio Ezio Vanoni for four year old chasers over two miles three (3800m) with the very impressive Gangster De Coddes whose task was made easier by the fall of favourite Honey Sexy . Pavel Tuma trainer of Honey Sexy and Northerly Wind had better luck on Saturday as Roncal proved an excellent winner of the Criterium Di Primavera for four year old hurdlers. The Czech horse was two lengths ahead of Romano’s No Profit with Paolo Favero’s Big City in third.
Wednesday sees San Siro stage the last big meeting of the Spring/Early Summer season with apart from one small meeting the Milanese track will close until September. Varese holding its first Summer meeting on July 3 will take up the mantle for Lombardy.There are four very good listed races on the card including the first two year old black types of the year over 1500 metres. In 2020 it was clear from early on the two year old fillies were superior to the colts but I think the opposite is the case this year. Windstormblack has given the Roman trainers confidence they can take on the Milanese on home ground and half the field for the Premio Giuseppe de Montel come from the capital. Il Sindacalista(bred by Anthony Byrne in Rathcoole) is two from two and was hugely impressive in the Premio Niccolo Dell’Arca over 1400m. Some Respect was a very good winner in Milan after being second to Baghed while Filmet was three lengths too good for Just Accord (bred by Pat Beirne in Westmeath) over 1400 metres in Milan. Botti and Grizzetti will try to get the better of the Romans here but perhaps the Guerrieri/Cascione uprising can continue.
The fillies race the Premio Mantovani is traditionally the route to the Premio Dormello.Is Arutas represents Guerrieri and the El Kabeir filly bred by Joe Banahan turf club senior steward was a good winner over 1400 metres in Rome. Freccia represents Alduino Botti and Dario Vargiu and the 60,000 gns yearling looked a snip on her debut putting three lengths on Amalaura a very good winner since who reoppose’s here.Daisy Dei Grif and Sofy Belle(Bred by the Deer Forest Stud Newbridge)are others to keep an eye on.
The Premio Estate(LR) 1600m attracts the third and fourth from the premio Parioli (2000 guineas) Wopart and Lord Bay(bred by Nicholas Teehan) and also the third from the Regina Elena(1000 guineas) Memo De L’Alguer (bred by Sandra Russell) as well as the Premio Gardone winner Bjorn (Irish National stud). Mordimi(John Foley), Cantocorale and Terrible Land are other credible candidates but I think an on form Memo De L’Alguer can beat the colts.
The Gran Premio D’Italia once group 1 is down on its luck but attracts a good group of three year old Derby disappointments. Atzeco, Glenearn, Flags Up,Mooney Love, Get The Power, Brigante Sabino and Tomiz all had their supporters as potential Derby winners but for one reason or another none of them made the podium.The extra furlong could suit the beautifully bred Mooney Love(Australia-Mooney Ridge).Keep an eye on the fourth race in Follonica at 18.30 Wednesday the Premio Tosca Vans a very competitive handicap over 1650 metres with a lot of Irish breeders represented.
Racing in Napoli on Tuesday (16,30), Milan on Wednesday (first at 16.25) Follonica also on Wednesday(16,35), Corridonia on Thursday, Follonica and Sassari on Friday, Varese on Saturday and on Sunday three meetings Merano, Siracusa and Tagliacozzo.