Pratoni del Vivaro – Italy's Olympic Heroes Immortalised

The Federal Equestrian Centre at Pratoni del Vivaro, which was created in 1960 for the Rome Olympics and now, 47 years later, hosts the FEI European Eventing Championships on September 13-16, has drawn on equestrian history to provide uniquely nostalgic reminders of Italy’s past Olympic triumphs. Each area is named after a horse who in the past brought Olympic medal glory home to Italy. For example, Posillipo, Raimondo d’Inzeo’s legendary 1960 Olympic gold medallist in show jumping, gives his name to the main, grass, arena, in which the jumping phase at the Europeans will take place this September. Ambassador, Graziano Mancinelli’s Olympic gold medallist in 1972 at Munich, is another grass arena, while the main dressage arena immortalises Raimondo d’Inzeo’s 1956 silver medallist Merano. Other sand arenas mark the achievements of brother Piero’s 1956 and 1960 bronze and silver medallists Uruguay and The Rock. Another sand arena is Il Traditore (which translates literally as “The Traitor”),bronze medallist for E. Caffaratti in 1920, and Woodland, the individual silver medallist at Munich in 1972 with Alessandro Argenton, plus, from way back at Antwerp in 1920, the individual silver medallist Cento (ridden by A Valerio). Sections of the cross-country course are named after famous event horses: Surbean, who won Olympic eventing gold at Tokyo in 1964 under Mauro Checcoli, and Rossinian, winner of the Moscow Olympics in 1980 with Euro Federico Roman. The indoor arena is named after Trebecco, Italy’s first Olympic gold medallist, in 1920 for jumper Tommaso Lequio di Assaba. In 1924 this horse successfully defended his gold medal, at the Paris Olympics. Lequio Assaba’s young descendant, Tommaso Lequio, has a double connection with Pratoni. His mother, Lucinda, will be working for the event and his maternal grandfather, Michael Bullen, was a member of Britain’s eventing team in Rome and Tokyo. In addition, the stable blocks at the Centro Equestre Federale are named after Olympic venues: Rome, Tokyo, Mexico, Munich and Montreal. Italy’s last eventing medal was the European team bronze captured in 2001 at Pau. With the opportunity to field 12 riders this year, a traditional privilege of the host nation, will there be a new 21st century horse’s name gracing the grounds of the Centro Equestre Federale?

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