There are disagreements with the European pattern committee, problems with prompt payment and lower prizemoney but the 138th Derby Italiano is still a massive day in Capannelle with some wonderful racing for us to enjoy.2021 still sees many problems in Italian Racing but there are clear signs of optimism beginning to appear.The Draghi government has been moving quickly with plans to reform the Horse Racing sector.Palermo trotting track reopens this Saturday whilst Livorno will open its gates to flat racing once again in August.
The Card on Sunday features as well as the Derby the Presidente Della Repubblica (G2,182,050euro) over nine furlongs, the Premio Tudini (G3, 64,350 euro) over six furlongs and the Carlo D’Alessio (G3, 64,350 euro)over twelve furlongs but the highlight of course will be Blue Ribbon event won by some of the finest horses Europe has seen Nearco, Botticelli, Braque, Niccolo dell’arca, Sirlad and in this century Rakti.
There will be fourteen starters on Sunday for the 633,600 euro on offer, thirteen colts and one filly with challengers from Germany, France Britain and of course Italy.Sadly there will not be an Irish trained runner, the last winner from the Emerald isle being the Dermot Weld trained Mick Kinane ridden In A Tiff in 1992. However nine of the fourteen starters are Irish bred which will bring great excitement to the studs involved and wonderful promotion for the thoroughbred industry.
The race is extremely difficult to call not just because of candidates from four countries but also because of the ratings which when cross checked have a mere nine pounds between thirteen of the fourteen runners.A case can be made for all of these, but let us start country by country.Ralph Beckett’s runner Fabilis by Frankel out of Mirablis is a full brother to Monarchs Glen winner of the Darley Club stakes (G3) over nine furlongs.At two he was twice a winner and fourth in the Zetland stakes(G3). Beckett has booked Ioritz Mendizabal winner of the Poule Dessai des Poulains on St Marks Basilica last Sunday. In his latest outing at Sandown over ten furlongs he was a length second to Juan De Montalban conceding seven pounds.The latter now with Raffaele Biondi is by Lope De Vega out of a Samum mare and bred by Ballylinch Stud in Thomastown.He seemed to be staying on the better of the two at the finish.
The only filly in the race is Isfahani trained by Hank Grewe in Germany.On her only start she finished second in the Guido Berardelli(G3) behind Bell’Imbusto but was awarded the race.Grewe doesn’t send his horses on wild goose chases so the filly must be respected.The other German challenger Quello has won in Fointainbleau this season over eleven furlongs so stamina is not in doubt.If Sibylle Vogt wins she will make history as the first Woman to ride a Derby Italiano winner. However the fact that German champion jockey Murzabayef riding in Milan on Saturday returns to Germany on Sunday is not a positive.
Cristian Demuro for many the best jockey in the World today has ridden four of the last six Derby Italiano winners.All of these were aboard Botti trained horses but this time he will ride Tokyo Gold for French based Japanese trainer Satoshi Kobayashi.The son of Kendargent was a winner of two of his four starts at two including a listed race over eight and a half furlongs.On his seasonal reappearance he was a close second in another listed before finishing fourth in the Prix Noailles (G3) over ten and a half furlongs three and a quarter lengths behind Cheshire Academy and Pretty Tiger both big fancies for the Prix Du Jockey Club. Gianluca Bietolini runs the Helmet colt Alastor with top French jockey Vincent Cheminaud on board.On the surface he is the weaker of the two horses coming from Chantilly but not too many fancied Colisseo in last Sundays French 2000 and only Aidan O Briens St Marks Basilica stopped Bietolini’s colt from enjoying a famous win.
Alduino Botti with eight victories and Bruno Grizzetti with three have dominated the Derby over the past twenty years.On this occasion Botti will have three challengers whilst the Varese trainer has Sopran Poseidone and Tomiz.The son of Gutaifan is marginally the highest rated horse in the race but Fabio Branca twice a derby winner himself has chosen the inexperienced Zoffany colt. Tomiz has been very impressive on his two starts, the second a conditions race over ten furlongs in Milan which should mean stamina won’t be a worry, his dam is a Montjeu mare.He is perhaps still a little green to be over confident about but he has huge potential.Sopran Poseidone went into winter quarters as a possible derby winner three from three including the Campobello a race whose winners have a good record in the derby.He was clearly in need of the race in the Clerici and in the Botticelli was a close third giving weight away to the first two.There will be great joy in the Eileen Farrelly and Dermot Murphy owned Misty Lodge Stud if the grey can run a big race on Sunday. Flag’s Up for many ran the best Italian trial in the Filiberto.Mario Sanna held up the War Command colt at the back of the field but he came with a sustained challenge and was very impressive.With Dettori unable to take the ride Sanna will again be in the saddle. Botti’s Midnight Season is another son of War Command with some quiet confidence behind him. Antonio Fresu is an interesting booking for the winner of the last Derby trial the Lodi Vecchio. Sopran Poseidone’s conqueror in the Botticelli Tiaspettofuori represents Devis Grilli and is the most experienced horse in the race whilst the runner up that day Rio Natal bred by Rhode’s Ringfort Stud will be ridden by last years winning jockey Carlo Fiocchi.The fourth Mooney Love is the mount of Salvatore Sulas taking over from the injured champion Dario Vargiu on many of the Botti horses.This son of Australia out of Mooney Ridge is bred for this race and indeed any other Derby.We all know Australia’s ancestry but Mooney Ridge is out of Holy Moon the dam of five Oaks winners including Sea Of Class.
An Intriguing race that is very difficult to sum up with so many different strands of form.But on the basis that Tomiz has been very impressive on his two starts and has probably more potential than any of the others with the possible exception of Mooney Love we give the Zoffany Colt the nod to give Bruno Grizzetti his fourth derby.
The supporting card is superb with a small but select field in the Presidente della Repubblica including last years winner Thunderman who went on to win the Premio Roma. Officially rated 112 at the end of last year Alduino Botti clearly believes there are further big wins to be gleaned from the Blu Air Force horse and Cristian Demuro has been booked to ensure victory. However in the build up Thunderman has been a little disappointing finishing second in the Regione Toscana in Florence to Ornais.The key race apart from Thunderman is the Premio Signorino over course and distance where the first three all meet again.The delicate but beautifully bred Attimo Fuggente(107) was a good winner from Frozen Juke(109) and Only Time(107).I would take Attimo Fuggente to repeat the placings on six pounds worse terms and set up a wonderful battle with Thunderman for the big prize.Attimo to reach the big time.
The Premio Tudini one of the top sprint races of the year attracts a field of eleven from the Czech Republic,Hungary and Serbia as well as Italy.The Champion sprinter The Conqueror(112) will take all the beating as its most likely he will get the good ground he loves.A truly brilliant horse, winner of sixteen out of twenty five starts including eight of his last nine, I take him to convince Alduino Botti that the time is right to send the son of Excelebration to foreign fields to show his worth. Ponntos, Royal Mehmas and Torch Lit three Irish breds could all be candidates to succeed Botti’s horse in the future and it will be very interesting to see how they run.
The Premio Carlo D’Alessio( named after the legendary Italian owner whose trainer in Italy was Sergio Cumani and whose horses abroad included champions such as Bolkonski, Wollow and Le Moss) over a mile and a half will see the Peter Schiergen trained Nubius likely to start favourite.A Multiple winner over the trip he had his warm up in the ten furlong Ambrosiano where he was fourth with the Dormello horse Ornais back in seventh and Azzurro Cobalto after a long lay off further back.The trip was probably too sharp for all three. Last years Derby fourth Baptism with Demuro on board is another with credible hopes as are the first three home in the Corsa Dell Arno but Germany and Sybylle Vogt to enjoy a big win.
A great days racing to enjoy including two other listed races one for two year old fillies and the other for milers which includes two very good Irish breds Please Exceed and Mordimi and a handicap principale.Horses from seven countries will compete on the day. Is there a more cosmopolitan meeting in the World?
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Photograph above shows Tuscan Gaze with Carlo Fiocchi just getting the better of Kings Caper and Frankie Dettori in last years Derby.