IN THE PERIOD during the 1970s and 1980s when he had horses in training in England, Carlo d'Alessio could hardly do wrong. D'Alessio, a leading Italian lawyer, never had an extensive string, but he enjoyed success.
Bolkonski and Wollow made him the first owner since 1834 to win back-to-back runnings of the 2,000 Guineas, in 1975 and 1976; Tolomeo was a notable English- trained winner of the valuable Arlington Million in America in 1983; and Le Moss proved himself one of the best stayers ever when winning successive runnings of the Ascot Gold Cup.
D'Alessio entered British racing practically on a whim. He owned the champion Italian two-year-old New Model and in 1974 took the gamble of sending him to be trained in Newmarket by Henry Cecil. It paid off when the colt won the valuable Challenge Stakes on his home course.
Spurred by that success, the d'Alessio/Cecil axis was again on winning terms the following year when Bolkonski won the first colts' Classic race of the season, the 2,000 Guineas. His owner became the first Italian to win a Classic since Chevalier Ginistrelli with Signorinetta in 1908. Bolkonski also took two other prestigious mile races, the St James's Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes.
Lurking in the wings by the end of this season was another top two-year-old, Wollow. He had already won the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster and Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, both valuable juvenile races.
And when Wollow beat Vitiges in the 1976 2,000 Guineas, d'Alessio became the first owner to win two Guineas on the trot since 1834. Although he didn't stay the 12 furlongs of the Derby, Wollow bounced back to form in three other Group 1 races: the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood over a mile, the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, and the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup at York; the last two races over a mile and a quarter.
Wollow and Bolkonski were ridden by Gianfranco Dettori, one of Italy's best riders and the father of Lanfranco, who is set to become champion jockey in Britain this year. Lanfranco Dettori was apprenticed to Luca Cumani in Newmarket. He is the son of d'Alessio's main Italian trainer, Sergio Cumani. Luca Cumani was Henry Cecil's assistant at the time of Bolkonski and Wollow, and also gave the owner his most valuable success when Tolomeo won the Arlington Million.
Other top horses d'Alessio owned were Le Moss, second in another Classic, the St Leger, before proving himself a leading staying horse, and the sprinter Valeriga. D'Alessio was also renowned for his involvement in the political side of Italian racing.
Unable to compete with the huge money invested in racing by Arab owners, d'Alessio quit English racing in the 1980s. He continued to be successful in Italy under the Souderia Cieffedi banner and had a notable success this year when Poliuto won the Premio Paroli, the Italian 2,000 Guineas.