The 2022 Gran Premio Di Milano had a truly ironic outcome. Bruno Grizzetti one of Italy’s great racehorse trainers literally had his horses thrown out of Milan’s Trenno training centre in February 2021 over an ongoing dispute between the racecourse and the Varese native. “Grizzly” as he is affecionately known moved his horses to the Varese racetrack and to Caravate on the shores of Lago Maggiore. One of his principle owners Scuderia Blueberry worried about the consequences moved most of their horses to Alduino Botti including the champion juvenile Aria Importante. The situation looked very bleak for Grizzetti who is however nothing if not resilient and through 2021 from Varese he sent out 79 winners of over € 1 million excluding premiums including Sopran Basilea in the Lydia Tesio. One of the three year olds who continually improved throughout the year was a son of Helmet known as Cantocorale who was one of the few Blueberry horses who remained with the “maestro”. Cantocorale won the listed Premio Estate on Derby day over 1600 metres and followed up in the Ipolito Fassati (Lr 1800m in September. Italy’s championship mile race the Vittorio Di Capua saw the homebred run an excellent fourth behind the German champion Rubaiyat. Better was to come in the Premio Ribot(G3 1600m) when under an exquisite ride from Fabio Branca he demolished all of the Di Capua principles including Rubaiyat.
Cantocorale’s four year old career was something everyone would look forward to. Grizzetti is nothing if not enigmatic and his horses invariably need a run or two to come to their best so the first runs of 2022 did not show the rest of us the potential of what was to come. However the Varese trainer had the Blueberry colt ready for his first major target the Presidente Della Repubblica(G2 1800m €200,200) when he held off the challenge of Flag’s Up Cima Emergency and Rubaiyat. The Gran Premio Di Milano was immediately set as his target but most of us doubted that Cantocorale could stay the extra two hundred metres at this level including the punters who let him start at 9/1. How sweet it must have been for Grizzetti to see Isabel and Guido Bezzera of Blueberry receive their prizes after the great race and his son Fillippo receiving the trainers prize in his place. Grizzetti had never won San Siro’s most famous race but here just over a year after being thrown out of Trenno he was back with a four year old who promises to get even better. We also have to say what a marvellous jockey Antonio Fresu is and how so far this partnership is proving spectacularly successful.
On Monday in our preview we thought Dawn Intello might just get the better of Cantocorale in the last one hundred metres but the son of Helmet showed no stamina limitations whatsoever in the Gran Premio Di Milano(G2 2000m €198,000). Sean ran the race of his life in third for Luca Maniezzi with Charlesquint fourth for France and Brigante Sabino the best of Team Botti’s trio in fifth. Flag’s Up once again a big disappointment is apparently a very inconsistent animal who usually runs better at Capannelle than San Siro. Two hundred metres out Fresu set sail for home quickly followed by Gerard Mosse on Dawn Intello but hard as the Frenchman tried there was no pegging back the son of Helmet who will now probably be rested for an autumn challenge for the Premio Roma. But with Grizzetti one can never be sure!
Team Botti had better luck in the Coppa D’Oro(LR 3000m) where Atzeco once again proved what a champion he is valiantly giving 3.5 kilos to the field. Dario Vargiu let Atzeco take over from the ex Simon Crisford/Jim Bolger Halimi six hundred metres out and he moved well clear but the French raider Plontier winner of five of his eleven starts including three in 2022 actually headed Atzeco 200 metres out. However one smack of Dario Vargiu’s whip settled the matter in strides with Halimi running on at one pace to be five lenghts third. Halimi has a RPR of 103 so where does that leave the son of Fastnet Rock clearly the best Italian stayer in many years. He has now over the past nine months won the St Leger,Roma Vecchia,Premio Carlo D’Alessio and now the Coppa D’Oro.
Team Botti are you ever going to leave your comfort zone?
The Premio Primi Passi(G3 1200m 2YO) had the hottest of odds on favourites Sogno Infinito at 2/5.However Sebastiano Guerrieri’s colt was found to be lame at the start and did not take part leaving a field of eight. Experienced told in a rough tight race where just over a length seperated the first four home. The winner Battle of Bubbles given an extraordinarily strong ride by Dario Di Tocco was a neck clear of Grizzetti’s fast finishing Vero Atleta at the line with Saputello third and Edith Dei Grif fourth. Battle Of Bubbles had been fifth in the Perrone, is trained in France by Florian Guyader owned by Teresa Marnane and bred by Donal Boylan. The daughter of Cotai Glory as tough as they come is out of the well named Somedaysrdiamonds who was a winner over the minimum trip at Lingfield and Wolverhampton. Guerrieri who has had a great season with his juveniles has hit a bit of bad luck in the past few weeks with rumours floating around of the sales of stable stars New Collection,Hurricane Black and Royal Lea.
The Premio Trenno is one of Milan’s most traditional handicaps over 1800 metres and on this occasion was won by the Elisa Castelli trained Alberto Sanna ridden and Ciaran Conroy bred Shikami (Mastercraftaman). Coffey is having a good year in Italy also having bred the Regina Elena runner up Nonna Ercolina.
Thats it at San Siro until September with Varese filling the gap until then. The Lombardy venue opens on Saturday with the Premio Mario Benetti (HPC 2250m 3YO+ F) as feature.Top weight Miracle Of Love was third in the Premio Lombardia (HPA 2400m) last time out but might find the weight concession to Grizzetti’s Sopran Kalypso (Bred by Brickfield Stud and Durcan B/stock)and Botti’s Maria Salvador too much. My idea of the winner though is the German challenger Walkin In The Sun who was thought of by Karoly Kerekes as an Oaks filly running well in several of the trail races. With only 54 kilos she might make the journey from Munich worthwhile.
This evening at Naples the Gigginstown House bred Mister Gaetano should get off the mark in the Premio Promessi Sposi(2) over 1400 metres.The only question, is the race too soon after his fourth place in the De Montel(LR 1400) where he was fourth behind Torpedo Blu.
At Siracusa on Saturday in the Premio Gigi Proietti(2YO 1200m) I expect American Pie to confirm the good impression of her close second to Miss Breath last time out. Any chinks in her armour might be exploited by the Mary Gallagher bred Temperance King (Ribchester) who was a good winner over 1400 metres last time out.
Racing this weekend at Naples today,Varese and Siracusa on Saturday and Liverno and Tagliacozzo on Sunday.
At Hamburg on Sunday the German derby takes place with twenty runners taking part with a quarter of those having Italian jockeys on board. Antonio Fresu,Dario Vargiu,Franco Dettori,Miki Cadeddu and Marco Casamento all have mounts in Germany’s biggest race.Good luck to them and also to Telepatic Glances who runs in the Holstein Cup(G3 1600m) for The EC racing stable and Antonio Fresu in the saddle.
VIDEO 1: Cantocorale wins the Gran Premio Di Milano
VIDEO 2: Atzeco wins the Coppa D’Oro
VIDEO 3: Bottle Of Bubbles wins the Premio Primi Passi