To the doom merchants, racing in Italy this weekend offers the perfect response, top class fair over jumps and on the flat. Runners from France,The Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Spain as well as Italy will race in Merano And Rome, throw in the unique Chilivani racemix of thoroughbred, Anglo Arab and Arab and one can see no other country on earth can offer such cosmopolitan racing. So much for the late prizemoney payments curtailing foreign interest in Italian racing.
But before we preview all of these delights I want to look at Le Bettole in Varese on wednesday where a very promising colt won at the third attempt. Lagomago ridden by Antonio Fresu, trained by Bruno Grizzetti and bred by John Little of Ennell Lodge Stud in Westmeath had to be roused leaving the stalls by his Sardinian pilot and at one stage was twenty lengths off the pace but simply cruised to victory in the style of a very good horse. Grizzetti’s juvenile is by the Kildangan stallion Belardo out of Navette a sister to Real World the horse who is helping Marco Ghianni reach the top and Dubai Fountain winner of the Cheshire Oaks. If the Varese trainer can sort out the Mullingar bred colts problems at the starting stalls he could be anything.
The Gran Premio Di Merano (G1 5000 metres three miles one furlong steeplechase 250,000 euro) is the highlight of the Italian “Ostacoli” season on the last Sunday of September each year. The locals feel that the twelve strong field is not a vintage one but nevertheless it will be hugely competitive with twelve runners from Italy,France and the Czech Republic with the competitors having won over 2 million euro before Sunday. L’Estran the star of the Scuderia Aichner is on the cusp of history by winning South Tirol’s great prize for the third time in a row a feat only achieved by the great French horse Or Jack between 1994-1996. The dual winner was very impressive in the principle trial the Premio Creme Anglaise (G3 3800m) when getting the better of the Czech champion Northerly Wind with his wonderful old stablemate Notti Magiche third and Raffaele Romano’s big hope Enola Gay fourth. All four resume rivalry but now must face a three strong raiding party from France. Guillaume Maccaire trained the last foreign winner of the Merano with Le Costaud and challenges now with Catolin a seven year old winner of five chases in France the last being over 3600 metres in Compiegne in June. Embrun D’Oudaires represents Richard Chotard a regular visitor to Italy and comes on the back of a good win in Nimes after being runner up in the Grand Steeplechase de Lyons. Davide Satalia an Italian trainer based in France sends Fan D’apples like Enola Gay in the ownership of Christian Troger. Kapjahr and the 2017 winner Al Bustan join Northerly Wind from the Czech republic. Al Bustan turned the clock back in the MIPAAF(G3 3900 m) the other big trial with an excellent win from Enola Gay. It promises to be a cracker and the off is at 16,10 live here to see if L’Estran can gain immortality.
The supporting card on Sunday features two grade 1 Hurdle races the Premio Corsa Dei 4 anni the championship race for four year olds and the Gran Criterium D’Autunno the title race for three year olds. The latter race is over 3,500 metres and will see three horses from Italy three from France two from Poland and one from the Czech republic. With so many imponderables its very difficult to call but Isatis De L’Ecu Gregorz Wrobelewski’s Polish challenger was impressive when getting the better of King Power,Arsa and Callistemon here over 3000 metres in August. Last years Criterium one two Lemhi Pass and No Profit will be among the home defense in the Corsa Dei 4 Anni where they will face a very strong challenge from France(4) and the Czech Republic. The Italians will be up against Macaires unbeaten four from four Spes Militurf and Pavel Tuma’s brilliant Roncal but never rule out Romano in these big hurdles.
Speaking of big hurdles on Saturday we have the group 1 Gran Corsa Siepi Di Merano over 4,000 metres (two and a half miles) Saturday’s race along with the GP Siepi Nazionale(Pisa), GP Siepi D’Italia(Merano) and the GP Siepi Di Milano(San Siro) are the four group 1 all aged hurdles who define the Champion hurdler. The Corsa Siepi D’Italia winner Live Your Life and Sky Constellation will represent Raffaele Romano with Prince D’Orage for Aichner/Vana junior. Cheminee leads the Czech invaders with the French challenge coming from Mano Des Sources. The Premio Delle Nazione is the cross country championship race with Broughton fancied to keep the title at home.
There is a tremendous card in Capannelle on Sunday with eighty runners in the six races with three excellent Listed races.The Scheibler for three year olds over 2000 metres continues the search for a decent male middle distance performer. Brigante Sabino won the Italia over 2400 metres while Mooney Love won well last time out over course and distance so they look the most likely in a wide open race. The fillies equivalent the Premio Archidamia sees the return of the Oaks runner up Cima Star who might get most to do from Santa Rita and the Spanish Showcasing filly Dajla. The Repubbliche Marinare for two year old fillies over 1500 metres sees the ultra busy Sa Filonzana winner of her last three starts up against the big guns on the mainland. The Sardinian trained Natalie Cleary bred daughter of El Kabeir has the form but this might be one question too many against the likes of The Conqueror’s sister Spring Love.
Speaking of The Conqueror he fought off nine pound receiving Agiato in todays Premio Jalmood to win the five furlong dash in a fabulous 55.86 seconds.
All of the action live on www.italianhorseracing.com
VIDEO: L’Estran wins 2020 Gran premio di Merano