An entertaining weekends racing in Italy over the weekend with National Hunt at the highest level in San Siro and flat meetings in Rome,Siracusa,Florence and Milan.The Group 1 Grande Steeple Chase Di Milano was won as we predicted by Pavel Tuma’s Northerly Wind who completed a double in San Siro’s top race over the larger obstacles.Jan Faltejsek had to work hard on the son of Saint Des Saintes whose offspring such as Djakadam,Quito De La Roque and Quel Esprit will be familiar to National Hunt fans.We expected the old warrior Notti Magiche to be the principle danger but Josef Vana junior’s charge had to be content with the minor money as his father’s Lodgian Whistle an eight year old fresh from an assault on the Velka Pardubice made a brave effort to catch the front running Czech champion.The principles no doubt will be eyeing Merano’s two great chases later in the summer the Grande Steeplchase d’Europa on June 27 and of course the Gran Premio Di Merano in September.
The Tuma/Faltejsek team, we could compare them to Mullins/Townend such is their dominance in 2021 also won the group 3 Staffe D’Oro for four year old chasers with Honey Sexy a wonderful mare who destroyed the field cruising home from Tancarville. Faltejsek showed what a marvellous jockey he is with a remarkable recovery on Ivo who hit the second last hard in the Premio Martesana but the Czech jockey reacted brilliantly to stay on board and the German bred son of Areion recovered to win.In another successful weekend for Irish breeding on the flat in Italy sixteen races won between Friday and Sunday not even a place won on the jumps scene.In fact in Milan on Sunday a mere three Irish bred horses contested as French,Italian and German breds dominated.The two great Italian NH trainers Raffaele Romano and Paolo Favero are struggling against Tuma and the Vana’s father and son so I have no doubt Irish breeders can find a market like their flat counterparts but for whatever reason it’s not happening.
The Premio Tadolina(LR 1600m) for four year old and up fillies saw Alduino Botti’s homebred Rose Secret return to her two year old form.The daughter of Sakhee’s Secret(great success with milers in Italy)had won the Repubbliche Marinare(LR) and finished second in the Dormello(G2)as a juvenile but she lost her way in 2020. In Capannelle Mario Sanna let her lead from the front and Rose Secret clearly enjoying herself won easily from Haven Park.The Ashling Burke bred filly ran very well but one always gets the feeling seven furlongs is her ideal trip.On this occasion however there was only reason to praise the Agostino Affe trained filly as she raced the last half mile minus a shoe. There are no such doubts about the Ringfort stud bred, Diego Dettori trained I Am Magnetic who got the better of Collinsbay by a nose in the Premio Iseo over six furlongs also on Sunday with the Kitty Fitzpatrick/Katie Mcgivern bred Centuron third.The Mehmas colt is one of the most promising three year old sprinters in the country along with Royal Mehmas and Virgin Isla likewise by the Tally Ho stallion.It is noteworthy how many of these tight races are won by progeny of Mehmas.
Another promising sprinter is Torch Lit bred by Clodagh and John Mcstay of Oaklawn stud.The Dansili four year old(Luciano Vitabile)put on his best performance yet in the Premio Trebbia over San Siro’s six furlongs where he just got the better of the Hungarian five year old mare Crushing Power. Torch Lit’s dam Smooth Missile is a half sister to Covert Love winner of the Irish Oaks and Prix De L’Opera.In the short term neither of these Irish breds is going to get near The Conqueror but both have huge potential as had Rock Of Estonia(Society Rock-Estonia(Exceed and Excel). Sebastiano Cannavo has slowly brought back Rock Of Estonia who as a two year old was favourite for the 2017 Norfolk Stakes but an injury sidelined the colt for over a year.Colin Kennedy nephew of the late Brian of Meadowlands Stud in Co.Down bred the colt who was sold as a foal to Glenvale Stud for 68,000 gns and resold as a yearling for 90,000.Originally with Charlie Hills where he impressively won his first two starts only to get injured just before Ascot.He was off the track for well over a year returned but was a shadow of his former self.At the end of 2019 Carmelo Cannarella father of Gabriele and Giuseppe two of Italy’s leading jockeys bought Rock Of Estonia.After six months of Sicialian sunshine he made his Italian debut in June last year and has now won four of his five starts on the island.He was quite impressive in Siracusa on Saturday comfortably winning the Premio Saffo from Dorkhel.
Another impressive winner in Siracusa was Filly Of Malta a two year old daughter of National Defense who won the Premio Alceo on her debut. Bred by Oghill House in Monasterevin and trained by Antonino Cannella she can win more races. Aidan Sexton is one of the most prolific sources of Irish bred winners in Italy and Endo Botti has a good filly in Ginger Beer who won “coast to coast” in the nine furlong Premio Altaguardia in Milan on Saturday.The Buratino filly looks just shy of pattern standard but black type is certainly within reach. The Botti/Brivio team have another promising horse in the half brother to this year’s Irish Lincolnshire winner Layfayette named Clean Emperor.The Son of Dragon Pulse bred by Matt Duffy was a neck winner from the Grizzetti filly Sopran Nausicaa in the mile Premio Cambiago.Clean Emperor has now won his last two starts and is a colt on the upgrade.
The main handicap of the weekend was the mile and a half Premio Agriformi(3yo) in Rome on Sunday.In our preview we felt that Crebillon would just get the better of Le Seigneur de Fer and unusually that’s how it panned out as the Botti pair put four and a half length’s on the rest.Crebillon has run six times and never been out of the first two while the New Bay colt bred by Norrismount Stud in Camolin,Co Wexford was only having his third start.I think Le Seigneur De Fer a half brother to the Ayr Silver Cup(G3) winner Magical Spirit will certainly win good races. On more than one occasion in this article we mentioned promise. Angelthunder without doubt merits that description after eleven months off the track the Pounced colt destroyed his field in the nine furlong Porta Genova.One to watch.
It has been a weekend of good news with the announcement of the huge improvements to be made to San Siro and as I write it has been confirmed that as from next Saturday up to 1,000 spectators can return to Italian racetracks.