On Sunday I think it is fair to say we enjoyed one of the great Italian Derbies certainly one of the best in years. Only time will tell just how good the protagonists are but we enjoyed a truly magnificent battle between what appears to be two very high class three year olds. Frozen Day under Dario Vargiu set out to repeat his tactics that almost won the Botticelli,but Tempesti wearing the colours of the legendary Dormello Olgiati with an apparently race winning turn of foot hit the front three out to a roar which would have done justice to the days of the gladiators. However a French jockey riding a son of a Prix Du Jockey club winner had different ideas. The Favourite initially left floundering by the son of Albert Dock’s turn of foot recovered. Now Ardakan trained by Markus Klug ridden by Clement Lecoeuvre and Tempesti with Silvano Mulas fought out a magnificent battle over the next two and a half furlongs which ended with the German trained colt outstaying an oh so brave Tempesti by a neck.The heavily backed Frozen Day with Cristian Demuro was three and a quarter lengths third with his stablemate Emperor Of Love fourth and another son of Albert Dock Lohengrin fifth. When the Racing Post rated Tempesti 119 and Frozen Day 118 after the Botticelli, not a few eyebrows were raised but it appears now they may if anything, have been a little conservative. Ardakan winner of the Berardelli, traditionally the juvenile race to note regarding the following years Derby was favourite to add the German equivalent before the off and it will be interesting to see if Markus Klug goes for the double with a colt who will have Prix De L’Arc ambitions. This was a superb spectacle thoroughly enjoyed by a huge Roman crowd who gave the winner a great reception.Great credit too to the genial Riccardo Santino and Dormello Olgiata’s racing manager Carla Viitadini also so gracious in glorious defeat. Frozen Day ran an excellent race as did Emperor Of Love. Ardakan will probably head to the Deutsches Derby on July 3 while I imagine Tempesti will head for the Gran Premio Di Milano three days earlier, although like ourselves the protagonists wont forget today in a while.
The Premio Presidente Della Repubblica (G2 1800m €200,200) was also a marvellous race.The top two in the market were two colts Only The Brave and Rubaiyat hoping to give another big race success to the German invaders but there aren’t too many trainers in the world better than Bruno Grizzetti to get a horse ready for the big day. We tipped Cantocorale on Friday and the son of Helmet now standing in Italy and ridden by Antonio Fresu was not going to be denied. Henk Grewe’s champion Rubaiyat went for glory three furlongs down but it was quickly apparent that Grizzetti’s pair Cantocorale and Cima Emergency had his measure. The Varese duo looked like they would have it all to themselves but Flag’s Up and Frozen Juke arrived with tremendous runs and a terrific finish ensued with last years Ribot winner showing he gets the 1800 metres well, finishing three quarters of a length ahead of Flag’s Up with a marvellous Frozen Juke a nose behind in third and Cima Emergency another short head away.The two German challengers on this occasion had no answer.The way Cantocorale finished suggests the ten furlongs of the Gran Premio Di Milano is a possibility but the Scuderia Blueberry owned colts best wins have been at Capannelle.
The Premio Carlo D’Alessio (G3 2400metres €71500) is a hugely important race in the middle distance calendar. After last years Roma Vecchio we said that Team Botti should think of a Melbourne Cup challenge for Atzeco who had just completed the St Leger/Roma Vecchio double.The son of Fastnet Rock and Examinee (Monsun) reappeared after a six month break to win Sundays race remembering the owner of Gay Lussac, Bolkonski, Wollow and Le Moss to name some of his best horses. D’Alessio also was the owner who insisted on “Il Mostro” Gianfranco Dettori riding his horses abroad which eventually led to son Frankie going to Newmarket. Perhaps Italian staying has found another monster this one with four legs as Atzeco after six months off the track on ground not to his liking,having to do all the donkey work, passed but still had enough to fight back and claim the prize from The Sicilian champion Neileta with favourite Brigante Sabino third. Before the race Stefano Botti said Atzeco was the best of his horses but on the pertaining fast ground and with his long absence he felt Brigante Sabino was the choice.Dario Vargiu rode a masterful race once again demonstrating what a champion he is.
The Conqueror dominated Italian sprinting for two and a half years until mid 2021. Agiato has now shown himself the successor to the son of Excelebration. Now a five year old the Bated Breath gelding had long threatened to reach the top but it took until last Autumn with victories over the old champion in the big two autumn sprints the Omenoni over 1000 metres and the 1200 metres Aloisi both won on soft or heavy ground. Antonio Fresu gave Bruno Grizzetti’s horse a peach of a ride in a rough race on fast ground where Raifan threated to be the winner but he then interfered with the in form Gheppardo Da Todi. The placed horses positions were reversed in the stewards room.The Kildaragh stud bred Raifan is back to his best and will be challengeing for the other top sprint prizes. Ghepardo Da Todi only a three year old is a revelation, winner of his last four races I think Cristiana Signorelli has a horse who can really progress but the honours today go to the champion Agiato.
The Alessandro Perrone (LR 2yo f € 39,600) was won in a canter by Sebastiano Guerrieri’s New Collections who looks like a really top juvenile filly.She had five and a half lengths on The French trained Bottle Of Bubbles owned by Therese Marnane and bred by Denis Boylan with Alduino Botti’s sister to Atamisque French Fries third. Guerrieri send last years winner Royal Ashirah to Deauville for the summer where she was competitive before returning to win the Ubaldo Pandolfi.I think New Collections is potentially even better so it could the old cry of A Parigi for the daughter of Brazen Beau.
At San Siro on Saturday Amalaura and Prichi fourth and fifth in an exceptional Regina Elena fought out an exciting finish to the Premio Nogara (LR 1400m 3f) with the Ravens Pass filly having a head to spare over the Austin Lyons bred daughter of Awtaad.Amalaura is a most consistent animal eight races five wins two seconds and fourth in the Guineas.Prichi lost nothing in defeat but Royal Ashirah needs to go back to 1200 metres.
The Premio Mezzanotte (LR 2200m 4+f) was a messy affair which Sergio Urru stole with a coast to coast win on the 23/1 outsider Lyrical.The German challenger Norge was second with the two Grizzetti fillies not at the races caught out with nowhere to go. Fresu was very gentle on Sopran Basilea.
Racing this week is at Rome on Tuesday,Milan and Tagliacozzo on Wednesday,Naples on Thursday, Chilivani and Rome on Friday,Milan and Siracusa on Saturday with Milan,Rome and Merano on Sunday.
The South Tirolese track will feature two listed races, a chase over 3900 metres the Premio Lunedi Di Pentecost and the Premio Chivas Regal hurdle.There will also be important 3 and 4 year old conditions hurdle races. Milan will have the main Oaks Trial the Premio Mario Incisa della Rocchetta and the 1600 metre Premio Bereguardo for 4yo plus both listed while Rome will feature the juvenile Alberto Giubilo over 1200 metres.
A German trained horse ridden by a Frenchman won the 2022 Derby Italiano but I feel that Italian Galoppo fans are in a more optimistic frame of mind after a truly great weekend’s racing with some serious horses to look forward to from today such as Tempesti,Cantocorale,Atzeco,Agiato and the juvenile filly New Connection.
VIDEO 1: 139th Derby Italiano
VIDEO 2: Cantocorale wins the G2 Presidente della Repubblica
VIDEO 3: Atzeco wins the Premio Carlo D’Alessio
VIDEO 4: Agiato sprint champion wins the Premio Tudini