If anyone has doubts about the resilience or sustainability of Italian racing they simply need to have a look at the Santo Stefano/Saint Stephens/Boxing day card at Pisa. Ninety one runners will enter the starting stalls at San Rossore on Sunday in a day of high quality super competitive racing. The importance of Italy to Irish breeders can also be visualised as thirty six of the ninety one carry an Ire after their name. In total over the Christmas weekend 157 Irish breds are due to race in Italy. Also on Sunday there is a very good card at the Mediterraneo track in Siracusa where the Sicilian racing public can enjoy a delightful days racing under beautiful winter sunshine. San Rossore features Europe’s last black type race of the year the Premio Piazza Dei Miracoli (2250 m €38,500, 14.20) Thirteen go to post in a race where a case can be made for at least nine of a field which will surely see Mooney Love start as favourite. The son of Australia and Mooney Ridge had without question his best performance in the Gran Premio Del Jockey Club (G2 2400m) when third to Road To Arc and Alter Adler with Brigante Sabino fourth. Team Botti then sent him for the Roma Vecchia where he clearly failed to stay the 2800 metres. The doubt about Tore Sulas mount is he has been on the go since April and this will be his ninth race of a tough campaign. Unique Diamond or Blanc Menteur had no problems with the Roma Vecchi or indeed St Leger where both ran very well behind Atzeco. Blanc Menteur has won five times this term between 1800 and 2300 metres and has been a model of consistency. Unique Diamond loves the autumn but she almost always finds one to good for her in these races as she did in the UNIRE behind Brigante Sabino. Tiaspettofuori who earlier in the year won the Botticelli has returned to form in the autumn with two good wins before also finding the Roma Vecchia beyond his stamina. Dario Vargiu rides the Carlo Porta runner up Clarenzio Fan who was a short head behind the Brian Kennedy bred Marco Gasparini trained Storm Shelter (Gale Force Ten – City Vaults Girl). The dam has also produced City Of Stars also with Gasparini and between the two they have won twenty races in Italy seven in 2021. Dont rule out another one here. The German challenger No Waltz a winner six times and third in a listed in Dresden last time out cannot be discounted but if Mooney Love hasnt gone over the top he must have a favourites chance.
The Premio San Rossore (HPB 1600m 3+ 14.55 ) is a perfect demonstration of the pain caused by the downgrading of Italy’s top races and how it has impacted on foreign breeders as well as Italian professionals. In theory the San Rossore is a handicap principale B not even A but in this field we have the 1000 guineas third, the 2000 guineas fourth a group 3 race winner and numerous listed winners exemplifying the lack of opportunities for these high class horses in Italy. The Sardinian based filly Memo De L’Alguer who was a magnificent third behind Wakanaka in the Regina Elena is a notoriously dificult ride and stall fourteen will not help although she likes to come from behind. The Sandra Russell bred filly (Mehmas – Moment Of Truth is not overburdened with 59 kilos((9 st 4) and with any luck in running could come in at a nice price although top weight Deadline, Chiaro Di Luna, Convivio, Contagocce and Amyntas will all be strong opposition. This handicap at the very least needs to attain HPA status in 2022.
The sprinters are in as equally a tough position. The Premio Enrico Camici (HPB 1200m 13.45) will have sixteen speedsters in action in a race almost impossible to call.Top weight is Sliding Woman bred by Eimear Mulhern was a winner over 1500 last weekend. Other Irish bred contenders include Danny Ocean (David Allen),Elisir (Gus Roche),Peppesp (Edward Lynam), Storm Part(G Sheridan and T Fitzgerald) and Royal Victory (Tirnaskea Stud). Danny Ocean and Elisir are both on a nice mark, in good form and must have place chances at least. In my opinion the Premio Goldoni (HPC 1600m 12.45) is one of the best if not the best nursery of the year. Fourteen will line up over the mile all of them winners. On four occasions Maikol Arras has ridden the Highland Reel colt Gaduli De L’Alguer (bred by Maria Marron) and each time he has won so it’s a little surprising to see the Sardinian will be aboard Endo Botti’s Churchill colt Miracle Of Life (bred by Dylan and Oisin Browne). Favourite is likely to be one of Alduino Botti’s representatives Insomma (Tore Sulas) or Filmet (Dario Vargiu). The Helmet filly looked like a star in the making on her debut but hasn’t starred since in three runs whilst the Havana Gold filly was also a little disappointing when fifth to Prichi in the Criterium Femminile. Parco Sempione was very impressive at Naples when winning over a mile after being fourth in a very hot Premio Dormelletto. One that could surprise is Dormello’s Vecello who carries only 54 kilos and was a good winner in San Siro over 1400 metres. Another offspring of Helmet like all of the horses that carry the famous Saint Andrews cross he is interestingly bred being from the family of Karasta (May Hill St(G3) and Kargali (Gladness St G3).Riccardo Santini has done really well with a small number of juveniles with winners such as Tempesti who will be one of the winter favourites for the Derby Italiano and Alsini so don’t be surprised if Silvano Mulas can guide Vecello home. Other Irish bred with a chance here include Indian Key (Michael O Mahoney) and Blue Kiss (Sandro Garavelli in Delvin Co.Westmeath).The racing at San Rossore on Sunday will be a joy to behold so flat fans tune in to www.italianhorseracing.com with the first race at 12.15.
The juvenile highlight at Siracusa will be the Criterium Di Inverno over 2000 metres at 15.15. Scivolascivola winner of the Criterium Dell Immacolata Sicily’s premier two year old race over 1500 metres will start favourite but now over ten furlongs he will face a different challenge. The Zoffany colt was bred by the Aherne family of Prospect Stables in Tipperary and in my humble opinion was only getting going in the closing stages of the Immacolata so it will be interesting to see how much more there is in the tank as he faces a serious challenge here from a number of challengers. Lord Liberty third on December 8 will reoppose and he too might appreciate the extra trip. Star Alpha (bred by Moyhaddy Stud) winner of his last two starts over 1600 and 1800 and the unbeaten Zia Polly ( bred by Glenvale Stud and Lynch Bages) a winner over 1600 and 1700 will test the favourites mettle and status as the best two year old in Sicily. The richest race of the day at the Mediterraneo will be the Premio Gaetano Francicanava (HPC 2100 m 15.50) The second,third, fourth, fifth,and seventh from Sicily’s biggest race the Premio Francesco Faraci (HPA 2300m) all reoppose here over a furlong shorter. Va Tutto Bene (bred by Sean Murphy) was the subject of a sizeable gamble that day and only failed by half a length to catch Neileta with the Mattock Stud bred Mission Accomplise a mere neck away in third. Yulong Pearisland (bred by Clarecastle Farm ) was fourth with the favourite Immortal Romance (Tally Ho) fifth. Va Tutto Bene now has the not inconsiderable help of Gabriele Cannarella in the saddle and must be favoured to confirm the placings. A very interesting contender is Orange Suit (Declaration Of War – Guantanamera bred by Barronstown Stud) who has been laid out for this by Antonio De Luca. The brother to the St Leger G1) winner Simple Verse and Ribblesdale(G2) winner Even So has won his last two starts here over 1900 and 2000 metres. With only 52,5 kilos dont discount Thrifty One (Dawn Approach – Maoineach) bred by Jim Bolger.The dam won the Round Tower Stakes(G3) as did her son New Treasure who was third in this years UAE Derby (G2). There will also be thirty six Irish breds running at Siracusa.
Christmas Eve has a very good meeting on the All Weather at Capannelle with another card at Livorno whose highlight of the year (Coppa Del Mare 2250m) will take place on December 29 whilst Naples will race on December 27 where Agostino Affe will introduce an interesting newcomer called Lupo Bianco. We Will report on all of the weekends action on Monday, also looking at San Rossore’s excellent jump card on Thursday which could well decide the placings of the trainers and jockey’s Ostacoli championships. First race at Pisa on Thursday is at 11.45. We would like to wish all of our readers,sponsors and supporters Buon Natale e un prospero anno nuovo and hope we can provide you with as much information as possible in 2022 when we all hope that Italian racing can begin its return to former glory.
VIDEO: 2021 Gran Premio Del Jockey Club(G2)