Varenne, the new life of the wonder horse. Treated like a king

The air-conditioned bedroom, plenty of hay, vet visits every day, stretching every morning. We went to see the Maradona of the trot, who with 51 Grand Prix victories brought Italians closer to horse racing. And that he is still the most requested stallion. Even if he has never had sex

  varenne-today-11 The (luxury) retired life of 27-year-old Varenne in the exclusive images of Oggi Photo

If he hears the word “photo” pronounced, he poses with the grace and politeness of an English lord, and holds it until he hears the click . Without getting upset. He, Varenne, is not just any horse. Nicknamed the Captain, with his performance sensational, brought Italians closer to the world of horse racing. When he ran he even stopped there Sports Sunday , interrupting the football commentary to talk about his rhythmic trot. In the bars we discussed gluing and sulky, the very light buggy with two rubber wheels for racing. He was the Maradona of the trot, everyone knows his name even if they have never seen him run, so much so that he even became a question from the Puzzle week : «A horse like Varenne» ten letters…trotter - photo

Francesca Pascale: 'I will vote for Elly Schlein, she represents me' Francesca Pascale: 'I will vote for Elly Schlein, she represents me'

GOLDEN BOARD Today went to visit him at the Il Cigno estate in Villanterio (Pv), a place built in the 1960s that houses about forty horses, a resort and a farm. You breathe peace. The fields ready to collect corn, wheat and rice seeds welcome the visitor, inside the estate only low buildings, a couple of tracks for horse training, the half-timbered stables reminiscent of those of the San Siro racecourse in Milan . A few meters further on, a building under renovation that is preparing to become Varenne House (expected to open in a couple of weeks) and a solitary stable with a paddock, a grassy enclosure enclosed by palisades, watched over by the cameras. We are welcomed by the veterinarian Federico Funghi, Alessio De Biasi, a 10-year-old boy, a rider from the Andalusian high school of riding, a huge fan of Varenne and the team that takes care of the horse, made up of four women led by Daniela Zilli, the lad (the assistant) officer. The echo of his victories, in fact, unites the generations.

27 YEAR OLD, LIKE AN 80 YEAR OLD HUMAN – Today, the lively 27-year-old (he is about the equivalent of 80/85 human years) was able to establish in the USA, during the Breeders Crown, the speed record of 52.10 km/h (now beaten, but lasted for a couple of decades) and to become the richest equine of all time: with 51 Grand Prix won he brought home 6,083,417 euros. He is the only one in history to have won the Horse of the Year title in three different states, namely Italy (2000, 2001, 2002), France (2001, 2002) and the United States (2001). Varenne was born on May 19, 1995 under the sign of Taurus, in the Zenzalino kennel in Copparo (Fe) from the American stallion Waikiki Beach and the Italian mare Ialmaz, «on a stormy night and with many problems during delivery» says Zilli who has been following him for 4 years. It is dark bay in color with a white spot on the muzzle and takes its name from the Rue de Varenne in Paris, the street that houses the Italian Embassy.

THE LETTER V - 1995 is the year of the letter V: each calendar year corresponds to an initial letter of the name. V for victory and Viking Kronos, protagonist of an episode that made Varenne enter the heart of the Italians. On July 10, 1998 Viking meets Varenne for the first time in Milan and beats him. The driver of the American horse, Lutfi Kolgjini, in the finishing straight turns and, making a gesture as if to say 'come forward', makes fun of Giampaolo Minnucci, the historic handler of Varenne who comes second. «But Varenne is Varenne», Zilli says proudly, «the stumble due to an imperfect shape, he had had a fever a couple of weeks earlier, was avenged at the Rome Derby». The scene repeats itself in reverse order with Minnucci returning the teasing. Viking finishes fourth and won't race again. Varenne, on the other hand, flies, out of 73 races he wins 61, placing second or third in the others.

EVEN JANNACCI SANG IT – And it is Varennemania: cheering from the stadium, carousels in the square at every victory and Enzo Jannacci who dedicates a song to him whose incipit goes: Gone is the time of the great Ribò ( the graphic sarebbe Ribot , ed) / we no longer felt our hearts beating / we didn't believe someone was coming from the wind from the wrath of the sea / but one day a champion appears as if tied to a blue whirlwind, and everyone shouts a single, loud name: Varenne, Varenne, Varenne très bien».
The last victory was on August 24, 2002 in Paris, the last race a month later, on September 28, 2002, in Montreal, Canada and has been a stallion ever since. In fact, from 15 February to 15 July every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, around 10, he has semen samples. A dad by mail: Varenne has never known a mare for fear that the mare could kick and injure him or that, in the reproductive act, she could contract some infection. But also because more mares can be fertilized with the semen collected. Each tube is packed with ice and shipped to buyers worldwide. The price per tube? From 5,500 to 7,500 euros. Father of 2,500 horses, some of which are good trotters, but only one great love Minnie, a Shetland with fox-red fur and a blonde mane. Small and a little stocky, she is half his height and she weighs a third: about 150 kilos against 500 for Varenne. 'A convict love,' explains Nicoletta Zilli, the horse's groom, amused. «Minnie is a burglar, she manages to open the gate to the paddock, making the horses that are with her flee and then she comes to see Varenne. He goes crazy for her. Usually cold, she lights up with passion, at her call he runs to meet her wherever she is, cuddles her and kisses her on the face ». A flash in the well coded routine.

A TYPICAL DAY – After a night spent under surveillance cameras, Zilli arrives at 6.30 and awaits the awakening: «If he sleeps, I'll let him rest a little longer». You enter an air-conditioned environment at around 18-19 degrees. The horse looks curious, a cuddle on the neck, in fact he doesn't like being stroked on the muzzle, and off to prepare breakfast. «Varenne always has hay available», explains Zilli as he prepares a supplementary feed. “Alone he dips it in water to soften it. He should eat about ten kilos of it a day, but we integrate 3 or 4 kilos of a feed mix that gives him proteins and nutritional elements ». Four meals a day plus snacks. And a few carrots or apples as a reward. Around 7.30 the grooming with brushes and combs that Varenne, a little vain, accepts with disdain, then stretching of the limbs and some massages. The cover of the night is removed, replaced in winter by a heavier one for the outside, and we go out: in fact, the horse enjoys the dawn in the open air, the sun rising in the humid mist of the plain. 9 am the veterinarian friend arrives and visits him daily, checks the viscera, the heart (34 beats per minute against the 28 of a young foal in full competitive activity), the reproductive organ and the joints of the legs. «He is fit, he looks 7 or 8 years younger than his chronological age», explains the veterinarian Federico Funghi who then proceeds to make the horse do the postural exercises suggested by an osteopath and a chiropractor. Once a month the 'podiatrist of the equines', a farrier or a 'foot trimmer' arrives to check the legs. The rest of the morning, if he's not on stud duty, he spends quietly. At 12 another lunch. His gate remains open so he can go out in the open air or go back to his 'bedroom' where the photos of the best memories are hung. Until the afternoon walk. More postural exercises for relaxation and then dinner and at dusk. We leave him to enjoy the peaceful Pavia countryside. Hello Varenne.