For over a century one of the Worlds great races the Gran Premio Di Milano will celebrate its 2022 renewal on Thursday. First run in 1889 it quickly established itself as one of Europes great equestrian events and by mid century was considered along with the Prix De L’arc de Triomphe and the newly inaugurated King George Vi and Queen Elisabeth stakes as one of the continents great middle distance races. Great champions roll off the list of winners, Ortello, Crapom, Nearco, Niccolo Dell’Arca, Tenerani, Ribot, Botticelli, Prince Royal, Sirlad, Tony Bin and Star Appeal were all among the twentieth century winners. During the century no other group 1 race produced so many winners of the Prix De L’Arc.
However the succesors to Tesio and Di Montel didnt have the same vision and a slow decline ensued but even in the last twenty years top notch winners such as Lando, Shantou, Falbrav, Electrocutionist and Jakkalberry can be found on the “Albo D’Oro”. In 2016 the members of the European pattern committee either without the slightest knowledge or care of Racing history or perhaps with other reasons disgracefully downgraded the great race from group 1 to group 2 which sadly pertains to this day. San Siro, Italy and Europe are the principle losers of the Gran Premio’s decline but optimism remains eternal and there are green shoots in Italy right now and just maybe someone can be found in the EPC or maybe more likely someone from Mario Draghi’s office might have a quiet word about Europe’s realities.
The 2022 version (G2 2000m €198,000) will see two German and one French challengers facing the home team in what looks like a very competitive race. Andreas Schulz and Gerard Mosse will team up on Dawn Intello who will start favourite. Winner of the Ambrosiano(G3 2000m) on his last Italian visit the son of Intello is top class winning the 2021 Coupe De Maison Laffitte(G3), third in the Prix Dollar(G2) and fourth in the Prix Du Jockey Club(G1). We can forget his last run in the Prix D’Isaphan(G1) over a trip clearly short of his best. Schutz will have him 100% for his main target in the first half of 2022. The second German challenger Sean, is a frequent Italian visitor coming the short journey from Karoly Kerekes Munich stable. However on this occasion I think Sean might find the distance and quality of the race a little too much.
Yann Barberot sends the Showcasing five year old Charlesquint from France with Gregory Benoist in the saddle. A winner at Chantilly in late March he ran the race of his life in the Grand Prix De Bordeaux which earned a Valeur rating of 46 (OR114) the same as Dawn Intello and Flag’s Up for his effort when runner up to Skaletti in the Gran Premio Del Jockey Club last Autumn. Flag’s Up was the top rated Italian three year old of 2021 and when he opened his campaign with an impressive victory in the listed Premio Circo Massimo at Capannelle there were hopes he would improve even more at four. However he disappointed in the Ambrosiano when only fourth but was back to top form when a good runner up to Cantocorale in the Presidente Della Repubblica (G2 1800m) at Rome. The question about the War Command colts flop in the Ambrosiano was it caused by the soft ground or is he simply happier at Capannelle than San Siro. Well Thursday’s ground will be fast so no excuses on that front and to be fair he won the Filiberto at San Siro last year.
Flag’s Up conqueror in the Repubblica, Cantocorale is without doubt one of the best horses in the country. The son of Helmet was the winner of last years Ribot (G3),Estate(LR) and Ippolito Fassati(LR) but all of those wins have been at 1600 or 1800 metres. Cantocorale’s stablemate Sopran Basilea is already a group 2 winner over 2000 metres in last years Premio Lydia Tesio where the Night Of Thunder filly bred by Aidan Sexton in Kildare also earned a 114 rating. She has been a little disappointing in 2022 and warmed up for this with a fast finishing second in the Premio del Giubileo(G3) over the course and distance. Both Cantocorale and Sopran Basilea represent Bruno Grizzetti who amazingly for all his triumphs has never won the Gran Premio Di Milano.
Alduino Botti as well as Flag’s Up will be represented by Brigante Sabino and Clarenzio Fan both of whom wont have any problems staying the 2000 metres but would prefer a cut in the ground and as with Sean may not be good enough.
A tricky race to call but I give Dawn Intello a narrow vote from Cantocorale, Flag’s Up and Charlesquint.
The Premio Primi Passi(G3 1200m €72,600) is Italy’s equivalent of the Phoenix Stakes or Prix Morny.The last two runnings have produced exceptional champions in Aria Importante and Windstormblack. This years field is much more dificult to call with two French invaders and one from Germany.The two “French” horses are the most experienced juveniles in the field and both the property of Teresa Marnane. Gerard Mosse rides Mandega who will be having his eight race whilst Dario Di Tocco will be aboard Bottle Of Bubbles five and a half lenghts second to New Collection in the Alessandro Perrone(Lr) before being a similar distance behind Wooton City in the Prix De La Fleche(LR Chantilly).Perhaps a more dangerous challenger from abroad is the Ralf Rohne’s Sienna winner of the Badener Jugendpreis over 1000 metres at Baden Baden. The home team will see Sebastiano Guerrieri rely on Sogno Infinito unbeaten in his two starts, while his Rome rivals Agostino Affe and Vincenzo Fazio will challenge with Tequila Picante and Saputello respectively. However I beleive the winner will emerge from nearby Varese. Bruno Grizzetti will be triply represented through Optically,Edith Dei Grif and Vero Atleta. The latter two are dificult to seperate, the daughter of Sakhees Secret won on her debut and was then a narrow second in the Vittorio Crespi behind Royal Lea whilst the Corrin stud son of Gleneagles was a very easy winner on his only start over 1000 metres here.
Vero Atleta to win.
The Coppa D’Oro (LR 3000m) will have the recent staying import from England Halimi a 103 RPR winner of five middle distance staying races. Simone Brogi will send from France Plontier a winner of five of his eleven starts including his two most recent races both over 2600 metres at Marseilles. Fabrizio Camici will have Neileta recent runner up in the Carlo D’Alessio(G3 2400m) while Nicolo Simondi will challenge with the unlucky Masterwin who promised so much earlier in his career when being placed in the Derby and Premio Roma as well as winning the Gran Premio D’Italia. Nevertheless here I think team Botti will not be denied through Fambrus last years winner but more likely through Atzeco winner of the 2021 St Leger(G3),Roma Vecchia(LR) and this years Carlo D’Alessio(G3).The son of Fastnet Rock oozes class and perhaps only the fast ground will give him serious problems.
A terrific meeting to close the San Siro spring season with the first race off at 18.00 CET.
VIDEO: Electrocutionist wins the 2005 GP Di Milano for Valfredo Valiani and Endo Botti after a tremendous battle