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Aston Upthorpe Yorkshire Oaks: Tassa the first Italian success for 41 years.

Byline: Jon Lees

ITALY yesterday toasted its first

success in Britain for 41 years when

Super Tassa produced a shock result in the Aston Upthorpe Yorkshire Oaks, writes Jon Lees.

Unconsidered at 25-1, the five-year-old fulfilled a long-standing ambition for her trainer and part-owner Valfredo Valiani, who learned his trade in England, when repelling the Henry

Cecil-trained Sacred Song by a length.

Valiani, who spent two spells, in 1981 and 1985, as assistant to Luca Cumani, said: "I've been waiting 15 years to have a runner in England, so this is a great occasion. I don't know why I took so long now because it looks so easy!"

Big-race success for horses trained outside the three main European

racing nations, notably from Japan and Germany, has encouraged overseas stables to set their sights on targets outside their own countries.

Yet since the Ribot era of the 1950s, 1960 Champion Stakes winner Marguerite Vernaut was the only Italian- trained winner in Britain.

Super Tassa, two-thirds owned by

retired art expert Cyril Humphris, had originally been bought for Ir1,300gns, since when she had registered victories at Listed, Group 3 and Group 2 level.

She completed a full house when

responding to jockey Kevin Darley's hard driving to head Sacred Song

inside the final furlong and win by a length, with Rockerlong third and Mot Juste a disappointing eighth.

Valiani said: "The plan was always to come here after she won a Group 2 in Italy in April. She looks to be improving every year and we thought York was the perfect track for her. She likes a strong pace and a long straight.

"I learned to be a trainer in England with Luca Cumani. The horse was with Luca from August 6 and she has done everything right. This was probably the best way to thank him.

"She did work very well on Friday, so we were quite confident. I was worried because she got a bit upset beforehand and sometimes she can be a hard ride. But Kevin Darley was very good. Cyril chose him and said he was a mature jockey who knew York very well."

The future for Super Tassa, who receives regular acupuncture from Valiani's vet Giusseppe Incastrohe for a back problem, may now belong in the paddocks.

Valiani added: "We thought about

retiring her to stud and I think she

deserved it. She didn't end last season very well, but this year she has gone faster than ever, so we'll have to see."

Englishman Humphris, who lives part of the time in Italy, bred Halling and owned 1994 Haydock Park Sprint Cup winner Lavinia Fontana. After buying into Super Tassa, he allowed her to continue running in her trainer's colours.

"Valfredo originally bought her and she won two races in his colours, so I allowed that to continue as I'm

superstitious," he said. "Two days

after I became involved she came

second in a Group 3 and she's never stopped improving."

The victory could well encourage other Italian trainers to compete in Britain, according to Valiani.

He said: "This win is very good for Italian racing. We need to have a better outlook. I won a Group 3 in France last year and a few Italian trainers went to run there after that, so I think you will have a few foreigners now."

Cumani said: "Italians tend to be

a little bit cagey about coming out of Italy. It's nice, in this day and age of international competition, that they should be encouraged to bring their best horses and race them abroad."


Super Tassa and Kevin Darley (third left) beat Sacred Song and Rockerlong (right) to register a historic win for Italy in the Yorkshire Oaks
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Aug 23, 2001
Previous Article:Action in the betting ring: Woe for punters as outsiders hold sway.
Next Article:Cecil so close to breaking his duck.

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