The beautiiful Maia track in South Tirol hosts its second biggest weekend of “Ostacoli” on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday for me we will enjoy the highlight of the jumps season so far as the 2021 Champion Hurdler Live Your Life will meet Mauricius the horse who threatens to take his crown as well as the top Czech challenger Skins Rock. The Gran Corsa Siepi D’Italia (G1 4000M 17.55) is not to be missed. Live Your Life loves Merano and was a superb winner of this race in 2021 with Skins Rock second, Sky Constellation fourth and Piton Des Neiges fifth. Raffaele Romano’s champion went on to win the Gran Corsa Sipei Di Merano (G1 4000 m) at the big September meeting with Skins Rock third. In 2022 at Milan he did not look the same horse in either of his two starts but back at Merano in the Premio Chivas Regal(LR 3500m) he looked more like his old self when a half length runner up to Zdenek Semenka’s star.Over the extra five hundred metres I believe we will see the old champion to be even more effective.But the question is will that be good enough as Josef Vana Junior and the Scuderia Aichner have found themselves a star in the Kapgarde gelding Mauricius triumphant already in 2022 in the Gran Corsa Siepi Nazionale (G1 4000m Pisa) and at San Siro in the Gran Corsa Siepi Di Milano(G1 4000m) with the old champion only fourth. If the race was over 3500 metres I would give the nod to Skins Rock and his new French Jockey Charlotte Prichard but over the 4000 metres Live Your Life and Mauricius should give us a wonderful battle with the winner half way to that champion title.
Also on Saturday is the Criterium Di Primavera (G2 3500 metres 4YO) where the Italians will be up against powerful challengers from Poland and the Czech Republic. Machinos from Zdenek Semenka’s stable got the better of Isatis De L’Ecu in the Corsa Siepi Dei 4 anni(G2 3600m San Siro).The Polish horse had been a spectacular winner of the Gran Criterium D’Autunno (G1 3300m 3YO) last September but appears up against it on this years form. The Vana/Aichner team rely on Ches Demonmirail who was the winner of the Staffe D’Oro(G3) over the larger obstacles before finishing fourth behind Machinos as his prep run for this. Raffaele Romnao will run Velo Dipinto a winner at Pisa before being third to the Czech horse last time out. A very interesting race but I expect Machinos to win.
Sunday’s big chase the Grande Steeple-Chase D’Europa(G1 4600m 17.55) is a bit overshadowed by Saturdays big hurdle race and the absence of the great champion L’Estran who is being being preserved for the Gran Premio Di Merano.The Aichner/Vana Junior team think they can take the big prize with one of their three challengers led by the venerable Notti Magiche now 12 and fresh from his great win in the Gran Steeple-Chase Di Milano(G1 5000m)The winner of eighteen races and almost €400,000 in prizemoney this would be icing on the cake for the son of Montjeu.He will face stiff opposition from his stablemate Gangster De Coddes half his age but already a winner of seven of his eleven starts including the G2 novice chase the Ezio Vanoni on this day last year.The Secret Singer gelding has just come back from an eight length win at Nancy in preparation for today. Italian chasers dont win that often in France and here the Lageneste and Macaire team challenge with the eight year old Eden Conti winner of five chases at Auteuil,Pau and last time the €95,000 Prix De La Rochelle at Compiegne. Raffaele Romano runs two and riding arrangements suggest the Le Havre seven year old Fahawro is the stables top hope.The Gabriele Agus mount was fifth behind L’estran last time out. That was his Italian debut after two good wins at Compiegne and Pau. Notti Magiche and Jan Faltejsek will be the popular choice but might find the French challenger Eden Conti and his young stablemate too good on this occasion.
This years Ezio Vanoni(G2 3800m) for novice chasers is an intriguing contest with Pavel Tuma’s Czech challenger Roncal the likely favourite after getting the better of Palm Springs by two and a half lengths over 3550 metres. These two will meet again but one that will ensure they wont have it all their own way is Paolo Favero’s Big City who has really found his feet over the bigger obstacles.He was thrown in at the deep end last time out when fourth behind the mighty L’Estran but will find this task a good deal easier.
The Cross Country Grande Steeple Chase Di Roma (G3 5000m) will see that wonderful old warrior Broughton winner of twenty two races including the 2019 and 2020 versions of this traditional event. Stablemate Almost Human won the 2021 version and returned to form here over 4100 metres last time out. Santa Clara,Silver Tango and White Wood will all have their supporters but perhaps it is a bit much to expect old Broughton to return after nine months off the track but he has proven lots of doubters wrong on many occasions.
Jumping fans have a great weekend ahead both meetings start at 15.30 London and Dublin time.
VIDEO: 2021 Gran Corsa Siepi D’Italia