Its perhaps difficult to credit nowadays but until the 1990’s Italian horses were major players at Longchamp on the first Sunday in October. Italian Jockeys are still playing a huge role of course twelve victories in the race before next Sunday through Frankie Dettori(6) Enrico Camici(3) Paolo Caprioli(2) and in 2020 Christian Demuro. However Horses trained, bred or owned in Italy have not played a big role over the past two decades. Nevertheless for many of us the greatest Arc winner of them all,the final masterpiece of Federico Tesio and Dormello Olgiata was the incomparable Ribot.
But before Ribot there were multiple attempts by Italians at winning the greatest race with no little success and in its first decade in 1929 Ortello (Teddy – Hollebeck) Giovanni De Montel’s great horse won the Derby Italiano and the Gran Premio Di Milano on the way to glory at Longchamp. Paolo Caprioli his jockey would return to Paris four years later to win on Crapom (Cranach – Pompea) trained by Federico Regoli formerly his great rival but who had to retire due to weight troubles. Crapom in a remarkable year had won the Derby,Premio Omnium,Grand Premio D’Italia and the Gran Prix D’Ostend before cementing his champion status in the Arc. Federico Tesio by the 1930s was entering his pomp but when he sent his horses abroad he preferred the Grand Prix De Paris or the Ascot Gold Cup both of which he won. Donatello (Blenheim -Delleanna) in 1937 just failed but Nearco (Pharos-Nogara) the following year won the Gran Prix De Paris before going to stud. Of course when we speak of little Italian influence in the Arc in recent years we must not forget every winner for many decades is a descendant of Federico Tesio’s great horse unbeaten in fourteen races. As we will see below no winner of the Arc since 1967 is without Tesio’s influence.
After the second World war Italian horses dominated many of Europes top races with Tenerani, Botticelli Braque,and Astolfina all able to claim being the best in Europe in their year. In 1948 Guido Berardelli from a family synonymous with Italian racing bred a colt he named Nuccio (Traghetto – Nuvoletta) Berardelli owned and trained the colt who along with Tesio’s Daumier vied for the title of best three year old in Italy in 1951 winning the Premio Omnium (now the Presidente Della Repubblica) and the Gran Premio D’Italia before finishing second to a Tantieme completeing two in a row in the Arc of that year. In 1952 Nuccio won the Premio Ambrosiano over ten furlongs in San Siro when a massive offer arrived from the Aga Khan. Berardelli agreed to sell fifty percent of Nuccio but the Aga Khan with the Arc as a priority insisted the son of Traghetto be moved to Alec Head in Chantilly. Head had the horse for a few months and he won the Coronation Cup at Epsom on the way to Longchamp where the “Italian” colt got the better of the St Leger winner Sybil’s Nephew with the Grand Prix De Saint Cloud winner L’Amiral third.
Dormello would have to wait until the great master past away before the Prix De L’Arc winner would hail from the shores of Lago Maggiore in 1955 and again in 1956. Ribot (Tenerani -Romanella) remains for many the greatest horse not only to win the big French race but perhaps the greatest ever to grace the turf. Suffice to say 16 races 16 wins two Arc’s a King George Vi and Queen Elizabeth stakes and a multitude of the great Italian races from 5 to 15 furlongs. Some recent commentators have tried to play down his victories in Milan but let us remember that in the fifties Italy and not Britain, France or Ireland was the dominant player in European racing. We will analyse Ribot’s career in depth another day but after an unbeaten two year old career he blitzed the field in all of his races in Italy before winning his first Arc. In 1956 he gave a spectacular display in the Gran Premio Di Milano before easily winning at Ascot,returned to San Siro for the Piazzale over nine furlongs before destroying a top class field in the Arc. The famous photograph of Camici disdainfully looking for the rest of the field said it all Ribot was simply the best. The champion had his quirkes and credit must go to trainer Uwe Penco, Head Lad Mario Marchesi his old friend and training partner Magistris but above all to the master horseman that was Enrico Camici.
Ribot wasn’t just a champion on the course but also off it being champion sire in Britain, Ireland The USA as well As Italy.He had only to wait five years after his masterful performance in Paris for his brilliant son Molvedo to emulate his father at Longchamp. Molvedo (Ribot- Maggiolina) looked like being a champion from early on. Trained by the Tuscan Alfredo Maggi and ridden by the great Camici he confirmed himself as champion Italian two year old in the 1960 Gran Criterium. Unfortunately ruled out of the Parioli and Derby by injury he won the Premio Estate in june before taking the Grand Prix de Deauville in August. After this Maggi and Camici believed they had a horse to beat the French guineas and Derby winner Right Royal V and in October they were proved correct with the Ganay and Gran Premio Di Milano winner Misti third. So brilliant was Molvedo he would win Italy’s mile championship race the Vittorio Di Capua twice.
Ribot’s second Arc winner Prince Royal (Ribot-Pange) was foaled in 1961 the year of Molvedo’s Arc and was send into training with Giuseppe Galbiati. Prince Royal was a good two year old third in the Gran Criterium before winning the nine furlong Premio Tevere (Now the Guido Berardelli). Prince Royal won his first three starts as a three year old before finishing fourth in the Gran Premio D’Italia. In the Gran Premio Di Milano with Marcello Andreucci in the saddle he was a good winner from the Prix Maurice De Nieuil winner Tournevent with the Italian guineas and St Leger winner Crivelli third. In the Premio Besana Ribot’s son gave a spectacular display winning by fifteen lenghts giving Galbiati and Andreucci the confidence to head to Paris first for the Royal Oak and then for the Arc. Prince Royal could not cope with the bog like conditions pertaining for the French St Leger and performed poorly. However the North American Rex Elsworth so impressed with his Italian form made a big offer just before the Arc where Prince Royal got the better of the Epsom derby winner Santa Claus with the Jacques Le Marois winner La Bamba third. Elsworth had sent the horse to Georges Bridgeland depriving Galbiati of his rightful honour. From 1955 to 1964 Ribot and his two sons had won four out of ten Prix De L’Arc’s a feat never likely to be repeated. Three years later Topyo won the Arc and in the fifty three years since no winner of the World’s greatest flat race has been without the blood of a horse bred or trained by Federico Tesio an achievement that perhaps Godolfin or Coolmore for all their resources may not match.
In 1987 the Camici family were back in Longchamp with a genuine challenger. Luigi Camici, Enrico’s cousin was one of racing’s great professionals. Bred by Pat O Callaghan Tony Bin (Kampala – Severn Bridge 1983) was purchased for 3000 guineas by the Allevamento White Star of Luciano Gaucci who sent the colt to Camici in Rome. As a two year old Tony Bin was third in both the Gran Criterium and Tevere. during his three year old career he slowly improved running his best race at the year end in the Gran Premio Del Jockey Club when runner up to Criquette Head’s Northern Dancer colt Antheus. However it was as a four year old that Camici’s horse really came into his own winning the Premio Ellington(now Carlo D’Alessio) on Derby day followed by wins in the Group 1 Premio Presidente Della Repubblica and the Gran Premio Di Milano.Camici then sent the horse to Saint Cloud for the Grand Prix where he was runner up to John Dunlop’s Moon Madness. Camici wasn’t happy with Michel Jerome’s performance so he booked Cash Asmussen for the Arc where he was again runner up to Trempolino with Triptych third. Camici swore they would be back in twelve months to win Paris’s big prize but first to the Gran Premio Del Jockey Club where Tony Bin won by 4 lengths from the Oaks D’Italia winner Lady Bentley. In 1988 Tony Bin would add three more group 1 prizes in the Federico Tesio and again in both the Presidente Della Repubblica and the Gran Premio Di Milano before going to Longchamp. John Reid had taken the ride in the Tesio and was again on board in Longchamp where he gave a masterful ride getting the better of the King George and Eclipse winner Mtoto. For the fourth time a Camici was victorious in the Arc but in an ironic twist, in his final European race Tony Bin was only second in the Gran Premio Del Jockey Club to Roakarad trained by cousin Enrico with a certain Carroll House third. The latter trained by Michael Jarvis and owned by Italian Antonio Balderini would have his day in the Parisian sun the following year.We can say that on eight occasions Italian horses have tasted glory in the Arc De Triomphe beginning with Ortello in 1929,Crapom 1933,Nuccio 1952,Ribot 1955,1956,Molvedo 1961,Prince Royal 1964 and Tony Bin 1988.
This week we have had a glut of two year old races no doubt many dreaming of glory and this Sunday in Capannelle a nine race card with 85 runners including seven two year old races. We will enjoy three listed races the sprinters have the Criterium Nazionale over 1200 metres, the Premio Coolmore for fillies is the principle trial for the Premio Dormello and the colts have the Vittorio Riva where the winner will start among the favourites for the Gran Criterium. As we have devoted so much to Italy and the Arc we will give you a full review of a most important week for two year olds on Tuesday,already on Thursday at Varese we have seen a most impressive debut from Voices Of War (Free Eagle- Lan Force) a half brother to Priore Philip a triple group 1 winner for Team Botti in 2014 and 15. More on Tuesday on all the two year olds.
At Goffs this week at the Orby and the Sportsman Italian buyers were very active making almost fifty purchases.Team Botti, Razza Latina,Diego Dettori, Superchimax SRl And the Scuderia Orizzonte Verde were particularly busy with Starspangledbanner, Gleneagles, Dragon Pulse, Mastercraftsman and El Kabeir being popular among the stallions. Among the most interesting purchases were an Exceed and Excel Filly out of Cralegre(Botti) making her a sister to Parioli fourth Convivio, A Muhaarar colt out of a sister to multiple Meydan group winner Ertijaal(Razza Latina) and a Starspangledbanner filly sister to this years Gran Premio D’Italia winner Brigante Sabino(Marco Bozzi). Notable absentees were Bruno Grizzetti and Sebastiano Guerrieri who were active at other venues.
Remember all of the action is live on www.italianhorseracing.com
VIDEO: Tony Bin wins 1988 Arc