In the weeks.months and hopefully years ahead we will bring stories of great horses and talented trainers,breeders and jockeys competing and winning on big racing days.But as we all know what keeps the show on the road are the humdrum days and often moderate animals paying their way and keeping people in a job.
A foal born in 2012 in Tipperary appeared destined to be in the latter category but through his toughness,generosity and ability has risen above the ordinary despite being no classic winner.Con Marnane the master of Bansha House stables has bred many top class horses Rio De La Plata,Fleeting Spirit,Prince of Lir and Amadeus Wolf to name but a few.The last named a quadruple group 1 winner has been largely disappointing at stud none of his offspring having come near his own extraordinary level. However many of his progeny have been tough workmanlike animals such as Amadeus Wolf Tone and Forest Edge who both won sixteen times and possible his best son Mister Sea Wolf a group 2 winner and twelve wins in Australia.
But when it comes to toughness none of these can compare to the appropriately named Piz Bernina named after the beautiful but fearsome mountain overlooking St.Moritz.In 2011 Marnane bred a colt by Amadeus Wolf and his mare Patroller(Grand Slam) named Yorkshire Relish who under Kevin Ryan won a moderate six furlong race in York.The Tipperary man must have seen something as the very next year he sent Patroller to Amadeus Wolf once more.Piz Bernina was the result and sold as a yearling to Italy where he went into training with Antonio Marcialis a hugely experienced professional.Antonio is the father of Andrea trainer of Way To Paris(2020 Grand Prix de Saint Cloud (g1) and Jessica the first woman to ride a Group 1 winner in France when she rode Tiger Tanaka to win the Prix Marcel Boussac last year.
Piz Bernina made his debut in august 2014 a reasonable third place in a Medrano maiden. On his fifth start over 9 furlongs he broke his duck in Florence.Marcialis gave him a rest for the winter and in a moderate three year old career he won twice more but he began to come into his own in 2016 winning four in a row including a raid into France at Cagnes Sur Mer where he won under Pierre Charles Boudot.In 2017 the Amadeus Wolf colt now five was sold to the small Corridonia trainer Luca Sorbino.
Corridonia is a small city in central Italy a few Kilometres from the beautiful Adriatic coast beloved of Northern European tourist’s.The climate perhaps is one of the reasons for Piz Bernina’s longevity and success as since he joined Sorbino he has won another fourteen races on grass,all weather but mostly on sand.Six wins in 2017,five in 2018,four in 2019 and even one in Covid dominated 2020.Many thought that perhaps no more could be asked of this brave old warrior now nine but on February 24 Piz Bernina defying 67kgs(10 stone 8)gave 35 lbs to the runner up in the 17050 euro Premio Cerreto over seven furlongs.Sorbino’s gelding gave a wonderful display of grit and determination to win a good quality handicap giving lumps of weight all round to reach his special milestone.
Piz Bernina is no Nijinsky but no horse anywhere shows more courage,bravery and will to win and he remains the absolute star of all the animals trained in beautiful Corridonia and who is to say what milestone he may yet reach.