San Siro will be the focus of attention this weekend with the highlight being the Oaks D’Italia (G2) with 366,300 euro in prizemoney over 2200 metres on the beautiful Milanese track. The Supporting card is very strong with the Carlo Vittadini (G3 72,050 euro) for three years old and upwards over a mile and the Royal Mares (LR 38.500 euro) the fillies equivalent. The Premio Vittorio Crespi(LR 39,600 euro) is over six furlongs for two year old fillies whilst the middle distance Handicap Principlale A the Premio Lombardia (35,200 euro) is one of the most hotly contested races of the year. Meanwhile in equally beautiful Merano the summer jumping season begins to gather pace with the listed Premio Lunedi Di Pentecoste steeplechase over 3,900 metres and the Premio Chivas Regal also listed for hurdlers over 3,500 metres.Firstly however a quick look back at the highlights of Wednesdays Republic day fixtures.
Windstormblack is well named as the Sebastiano Guerrieri/Melania Cascione team’s colt certainly moves like a stormy wind.On his debut over Rome’s five furlongs(1000m) he scampered home in 56,2 seconds.The son of Brazen Beau-Josefa Goya(Sakhee’s Secret) was stepped up to six furlongs(1200m) in the Premio Alberto Giubilo.Such is the colts reputation only four lined up against him the best of whom was Stay Kitten also a winner over Capannelle’s minimum distance before finishing fifth in the listed Perrone.Gabriele Cannarella jumped Windstormblack out of the stalls and he cruised home by an amazing fourteen lengths in a time just over a second slower than Collinsbay in the Tudini two weeks previously on similar going.The Fonthill Stud bred colt will now go to Milan in two weeks for the Primi Passi the Italian equivalent of the Phoenix Stakes. Matt Duffy has been enjoying considerable success in Italy and Mr Gualano (Worthadd-Poulkova) added to that in the Capannelle Trotto over a mile.The Domenico Ginosa trained gelding was winning his second Handicap Principale C race of the season to add to six previous wins, four in Pisa and two in France. Il Grande Gatsby won the two year old maiden on the All Weather over seven furlongs giving Churchill his first winner in Italy.The Mario Giorgi trained colt stayed on better than the Kildaragh Stud bred Raimark who will win over six furlongs. The best performance of the day among the older horses was Blue Sky Dreamer a five year old trained by Alduino Botti in the ten furlong Handicap Principale C. Unraced at two the son of Farhh won three of his four starts in 2019 including the listed Scheibler. In 2020 his only start was in the Gran Premio Di Milano and this late developer could well win something big before the year end.
The biggest race of the day was in Siracusa where the Premio Gaetano Mazzarella(Handicap Principale A) was won by the Mark Cuschieri owned Antonino Cannella trained and ridden Tenzing (Rio De La Plata-Ticklestone) who confirmed his status as the best horse in Sicily when he lumped 62 kgs (9 stone 11) to an easy four and a half lengths win from Perego and Swift Approval(Approve-Tiltili).The latter bred by Jean Brennan in Limerick was adding to the over 200,000 euro already won in an career across five countries. The Premio Greco over the Siracusa mile another Handicap Principale C was won by the Mountain View(Tipperary)Tally Ho(Westmeath) bred Chemeh (Mehmas-Cheworee)The progressive colt recently fifth in the Premio Sicilia can go on to win other good races.
In San Siro the big news was the return to form of Grizzetti Galoppo who enjoyed a double. A very impressive winner was Double West bred by Timmy Hillman and R O Callaghan in the Premio Piazzale Lotto over a mile for three year olds.The Belardo colt was a little disappointing at two but has shown a lot of improvement at three and is one to keep an eye on. Alduino Botti completed a double with Ranger in Paradise a beautifully bred four year old (Holy Roman Emperor -Mooney Ridge in the Razza Felina also over a mile.
Ten fillies will line up for Sunday’s Oaks D’Italia over eleven furlongs in what on paper at least is a very open race. Half of the field are Irish bred and four of these have obvious chances of classic glory.Memo De L’Alguer is the highest rated of the ten after her excellent third in the Regina Elena behind Wakanaka.The daugther of Mehmas -Moment Of Truth(Zafonic) bred by Sandra Russell in Tipperary finished the guineas like a train and will appreciate the good to firm ground expected in San Siro.The Big doubt of course is stamina, will an offspring of Mehmas stay the extra three furlongs on the stiffer San Siro track? In her favour, the ground is a lot faster this weekend and the fact that her dam’s half brother Zafisio was a winner of the Hessen Pokal (G3) over ten furlongs. The Aidan Sexton bred, Bruno Grizzetti trained Sopran Basilea won the Mario Incisa della Rocchetta the traditional Oaks trial convincingly from Zelandia trained by Raffaele Biondi. Fabio Branca has chosen to ride the Night Of Thunder filly ahead of Cima Star also a convincing winner on her last start in the Alberto Zanoletto da Rozzano again over Milan’s ten furlongs.Silvano Mulas takes the ride on the Sea The Stars filly. Eulaila unbeaten in three starts represents Alduino Botti and she was a good winner of the Mario Coccia in Rome.However the fact that Mario Botti is sending Invite from Newmarket suggests Team Botti believes that the John Egan ridden filly will be their main hope.Invite from The Gurkha’s first crop is out of Katiyra a top class racemare who won the Blandford Stakes(G2) and was third in the Group 1 Prix L’Opera.Invite was hugely impressive in her last start in Doncaster winning by ten lengths after being a length second to Save A Forest in her previous run.Save a Forest finished fourth in todays Epsom Oaks.There is a three pronged German challenge,Anoush was a three and three quarter length fourth in the group 2 Preis Diana Trial.In her Previous run she won a good conditions race over eleven furlongs in France.Kharsang won in Saint Cloud on her last start while Nania won an eleven furlong conditions race in Dresden.Anoush by Isfahan-Absolute Gold(Kendargent) appears the best of the three and will make a bold bid. To Sum up If Memo De L’Alguer stays she will have a great chance but its a big if and I take Sopran Basilea to give Aidan Sexton his biggest success in Italy at the expense of Invite, Anoush and Memo De L’Alguer.
The race of the day in terms of quality however is the Premio Carlo Vittadini named after the legendary owner of Grundy among many great horses.The eight horses in the field have won over 1.6 million euro Group 1,2 and 3 races and it is also the first big clash between the three year olds and their elders.Potemkin a group 1 winner comes from Germany and loves the fast ground expected.We have two 2000 guineas winners (Parioli) in Out Of Time and Fayathaan. Throw in last years Premio Ribot winner Fulminix, Badram winner of the Premio Pisa, Pensiore D’Amore recent winner of the Bereguardo and the wonderful Aria Importante and what a race to look forward to. John and Ann Foley of Bruff had a great day in the Parioli in April and the Mehmas colt and Convivió (fourth in the Parioli) will strive to uphold three year old form as will Aria Importante the filly who has given us so much pleasure over the past twelve months. She was absolutely brilliant in the Nogara but that was over seven furlongs which for me is her limit.Out Of Time was a true champion but in three runs this year he has been a shadow of his former self and not even the return of champion jockey Dario Vargiu from injury may lift him. Potemkin likewise has been a great horse but time may have caught up with him. That leaves three horses at the peak of their powers Pensiore D’Amore , Badram and Fulminix all of whom have serious credentials.The heart says Aria but Fulminix and Badram to fight it out.
The Royal Mares is the fillies equivalent and I take Havana Love second to Wakanaka in the Regina Elena to just get the better of Wonderful World, Sphere Of Fire and Haven Park .The Ciara Eglington bred Lollipop Girl has a great chance in the Vittorio Crespi over Six furlongs.
Merano stages a high quality jumps card in the South Tirol with a number of very good races.The highlight is the Premio Lunedi Di Pentecoste a steeplechase over 3,900 metres(2 miles three and a half furlongs). Those that are not followers of the Italian jump scene will be surprised to learn that the eight contestants have won just shy of 1,4 million Euro in prizemoney. L’Estran is the finest chaser in Europe outside Ireland,Britain and France. Josef Vana juniors star has won the last two Gran Premio Di Merano’s but he has been off the course since September so will probably need the run.Pavel Tuma’s Czech stable has the hugely promising First Of All a five year old unbeaten in six races but also off the track since September so perhaps Lodgian Whistle who gave Northerly Wind a fright in the Grande Steepchase Di Milano might be the one on this occasion.In the featured hurdle the Premio Chivas Regal watch out for Sky Constellation, Candalax and Live Your Life.