Ashforth’s Angles: Little Dotty flying Italy’s flag at Towcester

Little Dotty runs in the 2m mares' maiden hurdle at Towcester (above)

PICTURE: David Dew (racingpost.com/photos) Little Dotty flying the flag for Italy at Towcester By David Ashforth 6:00PM 23 NOV 2016

ITALIAN horsemen thrive in Britain. Who, over the age of 130, can possibly forget the romantic tale of Signorinetta and Edoardo Ginistrelli?

Convinced that his high class mare Signorina was in love with the low class stallion Chaleureux, Ginistrelli allowed love to take its course, the outcome being Signorinetta.

In 1908, trained by Ginistrelli in Newmarket, Signorinetta won the Derby at 100-1 and two days later won the Oaks as well. Magnifico!

Nowadays, we've got so used to Luca Cumani that if he'd just take the final step and change his name to Luke Cummins people would believe he'd been born in Bournemouth.

There's Frankie Dettori and Andrea Atzeni in the saddle and Marco Botti following in Cumani's footsteps but my favourite Italian import is Marchese Enrico Incisa Della Rocchetta, who trained near Middleham from 1981 until his death in 2005.

It's partly his splendid name. Don Enrico Incisa, as he was known, to give journalists a chance of getting it right, trained modest horses to win modest races. The best was McGillycuddy Reeks, never rated higher than 78 but the winner of 12 races for Incisa between 1997 and 2003, always ridden by Kim Tinkler.

In Italy, Incisa had been used to much better horses. His father was part-owner of the mighty Ribot, winner of the 1955 and 1956 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the 1956 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Incisa, who was a popular figure in Yorkshire, didn't like his horses whipped and greeted his winners quietly. When asked why he wasn't more animated in the winner's enclosure he explained, "I am under shock." But I digress.

None of the above have a runner at Towcester but Giuseppe Fierro does – Little Dotty (12.35). Fierro, known as Joe, was a panel beater and car dealer in Italy but moved to Britain and, in 1989, bought the stables in Staffordshire previously occupied by Earl Jones.

Now 64, Fierro has never trained a double figure number of winners in a year but he has maintained his passion and had his moments.

Little Dotty is out of Fierro's mare Marsh Marigold, bought by Fierro for 2,100 guineas in 1997. She won six hurdle races for him, to go with the five won by Silver Gift, who cost 1,050 guineas, and the same number by Just Beth, who cost 1,400 guineas.

Just Beth has been Fierro's best horse, winning a £17,000 hurdle at Cheltenham in 2007 when rated 126. Little Dotty won a bumper at Worcester three years ago but has run only once since and is unlikely to win today.

At the other end of Towcester's card is a rather more expensive purchase. Sea Sovereign cost 500,000 guineas as a yearling in 2014 but was sold in April, unraced, for 6,000 guineas. The three-year-old now makes his debut in a bumper race. Sea Sovereign (3.45) is Mark Pitman's first runner of the season. I've no idea how fast he'll run but it will be interesting to see.

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