We have a truly great weekend of Racing ahead of us in Italy with top class action both on the flat featuring the Gran Premio Di Milano and over jumps featuring the Group 1 Gran Corsa Siepi D’Italia and the Grande Steeplechase D’Europa.The supporting races on both days are also high class.We Will begin with Saturdays card at Milan where the champion sprinter The Conqueror faces seventeen opponents in a vintage edition of the Premio Bersaglio over six furlongs(17.55).Ironically in eight starts in 2020 the son of Excelebrations only defeat came in this race. Alduino Botti’s sprinter lit up the Italian Summer with a series of excellent wins so after a brilliant seasonal reappearance in the Premio Certosa it was a big surprise he wasn’t able to overcome a terrible outside draw in the Premio Tudini on Derby day.The draw has not been kind to The Conqueror once again this weekend but the effect in Milan is not as dramatic as at Capannelle. The Champion is carrying 61.5 kgs conceding weight all round and facing stiff opposition from a host of promising three year olds and challengers from Hungary and the Czech Republic.On Tudini form and at the weights one would have to pick Crushing Power the pride of Budapest whilst the Mehmas colt I Am Magnetic (bred by the Ringfort stud) is highly promising.Nevertheless I think the biggest threat could come from Endo Botti’s filly Sphere Of Fire (bred by Liam and Noreen O Donovan) who ran a tremendous race in the Nogara when second to Aria Importante.The draw has not been kind to the Dawn Approach filly either but I think in a top class race she will give Dario Vargiu’s mount most to do. The Premio Trenno(HPB 1800m 9f) is as usual a most open handicap. Alduino Botti is throwing the kitchen sink at it with four entries.My pick is the lightly raced Trita Sass.
Sunday in Milan features one of Europe’s great traditional middle distance races the Gran Premio Di Milano. In this years race we have challengers from France and Germany as well as Italy.There are only six runners but a case can be made for all of them with the official ratings showing a difference of a mere eight pounds between the lowest rated Nubius(104) and the joint top Wally and Thunderman(112).If the race was run over the distance of the Presidente Della Repubblica(1800m 9f) we would imagine a battle between Wally and Attimo Fuggente.On the other hand if it were over the twelve furlongs as it used to be Masterwin Nubius and Grocer Jack could be fancied.However Sundays big test will be over ten furlongs the perfect distance for Thunderman winner of last years Premio Roma.Wally finished a length behind Skaletti in the Prix D’Isaphan(G1) at Longchamp over 1850 metres and with Christian Demuro in the saddle will be a worthy favourite. Demuro and Fabio Branca (Attimo Fuggente) would be delighted with a French style tactical battle as their doubtful stamina would get less of a test.All the others with the possible exception of Dario Vargiu on Thunderman will be looking for a stiff pace to exploit their stamina.So an interesting battle is likely to ensue with Wally ever so slightly favoured but only a Nubius win would constitute a surprise.
Aidan O Brien considers it a privilege to have Ioritz Mendizabal riding for him and the Spaniard has certainly done the business for Coolmore at Longchamp and Chantilly this year.The privilege on Sunday belongs to German trainer Andreas Suborics in the Premio Del Giubileo (G3) the Fillies equivalent of the Gran Premio. No Limit Credit Mendizabal’s mount will be favourite, a winner of the Group 2 Preis Berlin Hoppegarten and recently second in the Prix Corrida(G2) at Longchamp. American Bridge Jean Claude Rouget’s French challenger with Demuro on board will have her followers as will Stex last years winner as well as the Group 2 Federico Tesio but I think Elisa Again from Raffaele Biondi’s stable, winner of Mezzanotte(Lr) in May and last years Verziere(G3) will be the one to challenge Mendizabal.
The Premio Primi Passi(G3) over 1200m(6f) for two year olds promises to be a cracker.The six runners have run a mere thirteen races between them but have won ten.Lollipop Girl (Bred by Collegelands Stud in Meath) the winner of the Vittorio Crespi(Lr) and Mamma Ines carry the flag for the fillies but they face three unbeaten colts Baghed,The Kings Horses and Windstormblack.The latter has been hugely impressive in his two wins in Rome the first in 56,2 seconds over five furlongs and the second a fourteen length romp over six. The Coppa D’Oro(Lr 3000m) once a group 1 is a mere shadow of its former self but still attracts challengers from Switzerland and Germany as well as the home contingent.The leader of those will be Baptism (Sea The Stars-Holy Salt bred by Tullpark Stud) who had an excellent win in the Premio Carlo D’Alessio (G3 2400m) with Nubius second. Last year’s Derby fourth will probably get most to do from another son of Sea The Stars Northsea Star recent winner of the Premio Lombardia(HPA) over 2400m.
Merano stages a two day meeting for jumping fans second to none. On display will be two Group 1, two group 2 one group three and two listed races with challengers from the Czech Republic, Poland France and of course Italy.The Highlight on Saturday is the Gran Corsa Siepi D’Italia(G1) over 4000m ( two and a half miles). No less than seven Group 1 winners will challenge for this hurdle for five year olds and upwards.The 2020 winner Piton Des Neiges from Josef Vana junior’s stable has not reached those levels this year and may relinquish his crown but to whom? Candalex a multiple winner in France as well as the Corsa Siepi Nazionale(G1) in Pisa will attract support as will Stuke, Skins Rock Sky Constellation and Grand Sud but I narrow it down to two, Live Your Life from the all conquering Romano/Agus team who was exceptional in the Chivas Regal earlier in the month and Dominique winner of the Gran Corsa Siepi Di Pisa in January and the Gran Corsa Siepi Di Milano in April.What a race it promises to be 17.40 Saturday.
On Sunday at the South Tirol track we have the Grande Steeple-Chase D’Europa over 4,600 metres (two miles seven furlongs).The eight runners have won well over 1 million Euro in prizemoney. French challenger Minella For Me (bred by B O Driscoll and Alan O Brien) has won twice in Compiegne this year but faces serious home opposition led by the great L’Estran winner of the Gran Premio Di Merano in 2019 and 2020. L’Estran seasonal reappearance saw him brought down early on and that little set back may give Northerly Wind from Pavel Tuma’s Czech stable the chance to show that he is the heir to the crown.The son of Saint Des Saintes has won the last two Grande Steeplechase Di Milano and was runner up to L’Estran last September.Don’t rule out Notti Magiche,Lodgian Whistle or Al Bustan but Northerly Wind to get the better of L’Estran this time and set up a massive confrontation in September.
In the Premio Ezio Vanoni (G2) a 3800 metre chase for four year olds I Take Honey Sexy to win for Tuma and in the also Group 2 Criterium Di Primavera for four year old hurdlers on Saturday Big City for Paolo Favero can get the better of the Czech trainers Roncal.
If we speak of International Racing there is nothing to compare to Italy this weekend with runners from France,Germany,Switzerland,Hungary,Poland the Czech Republic as well As Italy.So much for those that paint the narrative that Italian racing can’t attract foreign runners.
First Race in Milan on both Saturday and Sunday is at 14.00 whilst in Merano the first on Saturday is at 15.10 and on Sunday at 15.05. Siracusa on Saturday evening first is at 18.25 with the Premio Tommy Way at 18.55 where the globe trotting Swift Approval might get the better of French import Axcelerator and Dream Painter. Tagliacozzo first race on Sunday is at 15.30