Merano had wonderful festival of National Hunt racing on Saturday and Sunday with large crowds enjoying themselves at the beautiful venue after the sadness of 2020. To add to everyones’s pleasure was the knowledge that they were there on an historic occasion when L’Estran joined the immortals of the Italian turf. The Italoczech combination of Scuderia Aichner ,Josef Vana Junior and Josef Bartos brought a perfect plan to the ninety second Grand Premio Di Merano(G1, 5000 metres,250,000 euro) with stablemates first Il Superstite and then the veteran Notti Magiche setting a stiff pace to allow L’Estrans undoubted stamina to be fully exploited. Half a mile out the champion went for glory and although Richard Chotard’s French challenger Embrun D’Oudairies and Pavel Tuma’s Czech hope Northerly Wind both fought gallantly to the line they could never reach the son of Linda’s Lad who had three lengths to spare at the finish with the wonderful eleven year old Notti Magiche fourth. L’Estran has been a tremendous servant for Aichner and Vana and at only eight who is to say he wont be back in 2022 to make it four in a row. Over the weekend we also witnessed a Champion hurdler in Raffaele Romano’s brilliant seven year old son Live Your Life who has been at the top of the hurdling tree now for four years. After a 2020 when he was never 100% The son of Turati (Derby Italiano runner up to Mastery) returned to his best form this year already having won the Gran Corsa Siepi D’Italia(G1). Now in the Gran Corsa Siepi Di Merano(G1) he powered to victory from the Aichner/Vana representative Zanini with Skins Rock third. As a three year old Live Your Life was the winner of the three year old championship race the Gran Criterium D’Autunno(G1) and yesterday we witnessed another top class winner of that race in the Polish trained Isatis De L’Ecu who delivered on all the promise he had shown on his previous Italian raids. Gregororz Wroblewski his trainer also supplied the runner up Ocean Life with the French raider Tkliwy Nihallista third and King Power best of the Italians in fourth
The four year old championship race The Corsa Siepi Dei 4 anni(G1) over 3,500 metres went to the unbeaten Guillaume Maccaire trained Spes Milliturf.The French horse now unbeaten in five hurdles has a big future ahead of him. Runner up was fellow Franch challenger Henri Le Farceur with Paolo Favero’s Big City third. Despite a numerically big challenge this was the only French winner of the weekend,even in the cross country championship race the Premio Delle Nazione(G2 6000 metres) where they looked to have serious chances of success but the remarkable Broughton kept the spoils at home.I have written many times about Broughton winner of the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood for Mark Johnston at three then the Scottish Triumph Hurdle, starting second favourite for the Cheltenham version followed by a career in Italy that has now resulted in twenty two victories including the Grande Steeple Chase Di Milano and now his second Premio Delle Nazione. He simply destroyed the opposition in what is a truly unique race.If you havent seen it go the results section race 4 Merano 15.45 Settembre 25.It will be worth the effort.
Meanwhile in Rome an excellent flat card with three listed races a handicap Principale and eighty runners. The Premio Scheibler(LR) over 2000 metres for three year olds saw almost all of the Italian colts who were involved in the Derby. All through the spring i have been lamenting on the poor standard of the three year old colts but there are little signs of promise and this was one. The Filiberto winner Flag’s Up sixth in the derby was a good winner under Mario Sanna from Domani Risplendi with Mooney Love third and the Italia winner Brigante Sabino fourth in a very good time.The winner a War Command colt out of Baby Revolution who won the Nogara whilst the runner up is also by War Command out of Donoma a triple listed winner also including the Nogara. Mooney Love ran his usual race but for me now needs twelve furlongs.Endo Botti’s colt Domani Risplendi unraced at two was having only his fourth race and has ample scope for improvement.
The fillies equivalent the Premio Archidamia but also with older fillies was a most unsatisfactory affair tactically more like Longchamp than Capannelle run at a dawdle almost three seconds slower than the colts race and finished with a sprint which suited the Australia mare Sugar Beat best who held off Dame Di Coeur with the Spanish filly Hold Me Now an excellent third. Cima Star the Oaks runner up clearly needed a better pace and her day will come. The winner is a full sister to Irwin who was a winner this week for Joseph O Brien.
The Repubblica Marinara(LR 2yo 1500 metres one of the main trials for the Dormello saw a tremendous finish with Sa Filonzana(El Kabeir) getting up on the line to dead heat with Calithea (Awtaad) with The Conqueror’s Sister Spring Love (Australia) third and the other El Kabeir filly Is Arutas fourth. Sa Filonzana missed the break and seemed to have little hope three out but absolutely flew at the finish. We predicted she would get black type after her last run in Chilivani and is no forlorn hope in the Dormello. I thought four races in a short time might catch her out but she is obviously tough. Bred by Natalie Cleary in Wexford a family with a wonderful sporting record, All star hurlers Irish greyhound Derby winners and of course the great Annie Power. Sa Filonzana will hopefully add to that in the future.
Sardinian racing long overlooked despite the amazing record of its jockeys had its biggest weight for age contest in Chilivani on Saturday. The forty sixth Gran Premio Regione Sardo over 2400 metres(12f) was won by the Golden Vale Stud bred Baroc De L’Alguer (Battle Of Marengo – Rose Buck) trained by Francesco Oppes with Le Base second and the winners older full sister Bunora De L’Alguer third.
Baroc was having his ninth victory while the third has already won on twelve occasions. A truly lovely story for the Limerick stud.
Italian buyers were active at Tattersalls Ireland yearling sales last week. I believe twenty five purchase were made by amongst others Valfredo Valiani, Sebastiano Guerrieri, Marco Bozzi, Federico Barberini, Francesco Santella and Renato Discepolo. Two Kodiac colts for 68,000 and 25,000 were amongst the purchases along with 28,000 for a Ribchester,27,000 for a Mastercraftaman,30,000 for an Australia and 20,000 for a Footstepsinthesand and a similar price for a Sioux Nation all of those fillies.
Racing this week in Capannelle on Tuesday 14.00,Tagliacozzo 13.55 and Varese 14.10 (Premio Motta Rossa h/cap 1500m) on Wednesday,
Florence on Thursday, Sassari and Capannelle on Friday, Siracusa on Saturday, Merano and Capannelle with a nine race card including three key two year old black type races and the most important stayers handicap of the year on Sunday.
All of the action here on www.italianhorseracing.com
VIDEO: L’Estran makes history in Gran Premio di Merano