The Premio Pisa celebrated its 131th version in 2021 a race steeped in history won in recent years by the likes of Out Of Time(2019)Wait Forever(2018)and Canford Cliffs(2014) on their way to Parioli glory a few weeks later. In the past the winners includes some of Racing’s greatest legends Archidamia,Barbara Sirani, Nogara(perhaps the most important mare in history) and the incomparable Ribot.But in this Covid ridden year the race seemed jinxed. Firstly after two horrific accidents the “Fantini”(jockeys) refused to race the track and after much deliberation the two listed races the Pisa and Regione Toscana were moved to Florence a mere twelve days before the guineas. Then at the starting gate champion jockey Dario Vargiu’s mount Dark Foundation reared up and dumped the jockey on the turf rodeo style.Vargiu has suffered multiple fractures on his pelvis as well as broken ribs and may not ride again this year.
The build up to the Parioli has unlike the Regina Elena been devoid of any outstanding performances but in the Pisa one would have to have been impressed by Lord Bay(Excelebration-Miss Chaumiere(Selkirk)he was getting stronger by the metre in the 1500m(7.5 furlongs) and looks a real hopeful for the Parioli.Lord Bay has now won his last three starts and will love every yard of the mile in Capannelle.It will be very interesting to see whether Salvatore Sulas rides him or champion two year old Vis A Vis as he will have the choice now with Vargiu injured.The Excelebration colt(A special horse for the Botti empire he won the Prix Du Moulin and the German guineas when trained by Marco)was bred in Kilkenny at the Bluegate stud. Owner Nicolas Teehan bred Ten year Ticket who won a listed in Leopardstown last year before being sold to Hong Kong. The Ten Year Ticket refers to Teehan’s Dad also Nicolas having a ten year ticket for Semple Stadium.The family is steeped in Kilkenny hurling and have played a big role in the famed Graigue Ballycallen club. It would be a remarkable story if Lord Bay could win the classic and join the lore of the parish.(You can see the race in results section 5th Firenze 16.55)
Speaking of Nogara and Ribot those famous colours of white with the Saint Andrews cross were carried to victory in the other listed race the Regione Toscana when Ornais got the better of Thunderman once again in the eleven furlong race.This was the Dormello Olgiata colt fifth win in ten starts and trainer Riccardo Santini’s patience with the son Of Roderic O Connor is beginning to pay off. I suspect the two principles will meet again a few times in 2021 most likely in the G2 Presidente De La Repubblica on Derby day in late May. (As above for video see race 4th Firenze)