After all the will they run,wont they run, finally there will not be a meeting on Sunday in Livorno because of the objections by the senior jockeys. The course had passed the Ministry of Agriculture tests but was obviously lacking good grass coverage.Salvatore Sulas and Jockeys President Luca Maniezzi strongly objected that the course was still unsafe.The owners and trainers meantime entered a huge number of runners at the initial stage including over 200 for the Coppa Del Mare but not fancying a stand off with their pilots didn’t follow up with the final entries this morning. A much needed boost to Italian racing has been botched by not bringing all relevant parties into the decision making process. The Mayor of Livorno who has invested much political capital, wanted the racing to begin on August 15 come what may but looking at the photographs eminating from the track one would have to concur that the jockeys are correct in demanding further improvements before racing resumes. Another factor has been the lack of lighting so racing would have to take place during the daytime hours in a situation where temperatures are dangerously high reaching 48.8 in Siracusa on thursday. When or if the reopening takes place is now an unknown but clearly all parties involved must be part of that decision.
Nevertheless Merano has two top class cards on Saturday and Sunday for us to enjoy with listed races on the flat and over fences two handicap principale’s and some very interesting two year old races. Without a doubt the highest quality race is Sunday’s seventh where three of Europe’s best chasers will meet in the Premio Creme Anglaise (LR) over 3,800 metres in what has to be the best trial for the Gran Premio Di Merano (G1) at the end of September. L’Estran the dual winner of Italy’s version of the Cheltenham Gold Cup is making his seasonal bow and his first run since his 2020 victory in the big race. Josef Vana’s great chaser is lightly to be in need of the run but so too is the Czech champion Northerly Wind runner up in the Gran Premio last year but since a winner of Grand Steeplechase Di Milano (G1) on two occasions. The son of Saint des Saintes is for many the obvious successor to L’Estran even though he is nine compared to Scuderia Aichner’s horse who is only eight. Notti Magiche the old veteran at eleven also in the Vana/Aichner team will go to post fighting fit after his latest win in the Grande Steeple-Chase D’Europa (G1) at the end of June. The son of Montjeu a winner on the flat with Bruno Grizzetti is fourteen times a winner over jumps four of those group 1. Enola Gay a winner three times in France the last time in Auteuil on June 19 over 3900 metres and once in England when with Venetia Williams is an interesting runner. The French bred is now with Raffaele Romano who has been in sparkling form all year. A truly interesting race and anyone with an interest in National hunt should watch it live at 18.05 on Sunday evening. Irish National hunt breeders should note the entire field is French bred.
The Premio EBF Terme De Merano(LR) over 2250 metres is for fillies three year and up. Stex winner of the race in 2020 on route to winning the Federico Tesio (G2) will be an obvious candidate for many but she just hasn’t shone this year, her best run probably being in the Premio Paolo Mezzanotte (LR) when third to Elisa Again and Sidney Pearl. The last named a daughter of Australia reoppose’s here but she was hugely disappointing in the Premio Del Giubileo (G3) over 2000 metres when Stex was third. An interesting runner is Alduino Botti’s Lyrical with champion jockey Dario Vargiu on board. The daughter of Poet’s Voice and Reaching Ahead now a four year old is on the upgrade and was a good winner of the Premio Mario Benneti(HPC) over 2250 metres at Varese last time out and previously had won the Premio Perretti(HPB) over 2000 metres at Rome. Lyrical is a half sister to listed winner Grey Britain and Full Of Beauty runner up in the Oaks D’Italia(G2) and dam of Wally this year’s winner of the Gran Premio Di Milano (G2). Bruno Grizzetti will be represented by one of the two three year olds in the field Sopran Kalypso bred by Brickfield stud and Durcan bloodstock 7th in the Oaks while Whizzair and Salonlove join Stex from Germany and the Czech republic will be represented by Imsexyandiknowit (bred by K.Cullen), Mo My Dream and Storm De Nuit in a truly international contest.
On Saturday the Premio Saverio Lembo over 3,300 metres for four year old hurdlers is a fascinating contest with Big City for Paolo Favero, No Profit and Urban Sea representing Raffaele Romano and Lemhi Pass winner of last years Criterium D’Autunno (G1). These are all proven performers over hurdles but the most interesting runner is Aurelius In Love winner of the 2019 Guido Berardelli (G3) over nine furlongs and in 2020 fifth in the Derby. The Thomas Lennon bred horse represents the Vana Junior/Aichner team and shows us how the big jumping stables are intent on bringing better flat horses onto the National hunt scene.
The Premio Ribot named after the great champion is for two year olds over a mile and often throws up some interesting juveniles. Tempesti will carry those famous Ribot colours White with the Saint Andrews cross, and true to tradition was bred in Dormello by Albert Dock out of the six time winner Tender Hugs. Gold Tango (The Gurkha) representing Niccolo Simondi was bred by Coolmore. The Dark Angel colt Tockins bred by Yeomanstown will represent Mario Migheli while another The Gurkha colt bred by Joe O Leary runs for Alduino Botti. Miracle Of Life (Gutaifan bred by Browne Brothers) is another to keep an eye on.
The concluding Premio Delle Alpi (HPC) on Sunday is a terrific mile handicap where Botti’s beautifully bred Ranger In Paradise will carry top weight and probably start favourite. Tough handicappers such as Silver Mission (Yeomanstown) Mr Gualano (Matt Duffy) Puo Sucede (D Iceton) Jar Jar Jinks (Skymarc Farm) and Painful (Jennifer and Evelyn Cullen) all have chances. The three year old Handicap principale the Premio Citta Di Merano presents the Sean O Sullivan bred Please Exceed a good chance to return to his early spring form. He will face stiff opposition from bottom weight Cayodama bred by Tom Quinlan and Sopran Ares bred by Dubois holdings who has just completed a hat trick of wins the last one at Cayodama’s expense.
Napoli stages an interesting card on saturday and Tagliacozzo also race on Sunday a subdued meeting after last weeks excitement which like Corridonia on thursday attracted a big passionate crowd. You can follow all the action live here on www.italianhorseracing.com
Photograph above gives us a spectacular view of a Merano chase while the video at the end demonstrates what we are missing in Livorno.
VIDEO: A look at a night of Livorno’s Coppa del Mar