Ente Nazionale Corse al Trotto

00836 ROMA


Dr Francesco Ruff-Scaletto

E.N.C.A.T., the Ente Nazionale Corse al Trotto (National Trotter Race Authority) regulates all trotter racing activities in Italy.

The Authority is a recognized not-for-profit entity and is itself regulated by U.N.I.R.E., the Unione Nazionale Incremento Razze Equine (National Union for Increasing Horse Breeds), under the jurisdiction of the Ministry for Agricultural Policy.

Its primary institutional goal is to improve and promote trotter horses in Italy.

Its main functions are:

- keeping the Genealogical Book of the Italian Trotter Horse;
- regulating trotter races;
- qualifying operators and facilities;
- providing for technical planning of races and trotter Grand Prix.

Trotter racing has deep and widespread historical and popular roots in Italy. From the very beginning, trotter races have been a popular custom as testified by their wide diffusion; indeed, they are the civil aspect of religious feasts. When did trotter racing begin in Italy? The first official document indicates PADUA, at Prato della Valle, on occasion of a solemn feast day in 1808. The races demanded rigorous respect of the trotting pace; after three violations, the competitor could be disqualified. Disqualification could be inflicted even in the event of more than six breaks into a gallop.

Italy belongs to the U.E.T., Unione Europea Trotto (European Trotter Union), and is a signatory nation to the International Anti-doping Agreement.

Races in Italy are held on 23 trotter racks recognized by E.N.C.A.T., 13 of which are 1000 meters long, and 10 800 meters long; races are run on the left at all of these tracks. The absolute record achieved on these tracks is held by Remington Crown, bred in Sweden, who came in at 1’11"1 at km in Naples on occasion of the "Agnano Lottery Grand Prix" on May 2, 1999 with an Autostart start over a distance of 1600 meters.

The record for horses bred in Italy was achieved, on a foreign track, by:

* Toto d’Asolo (Homesick and Tinta) in 1’11"6 at km at Cagnes sur Mer on a 1609 meter track with an Autostart start.

And, on an Italian track, in 1998 at Naples, by:

* Ruby B1, a mare (from Darif Effe and Equilola Effe) in 1’11"9 at km in a 1600 meter race with an Autostart start.

Every year, UNIRE budgets the necessary sums from the revenues generated by betting to finance horse track operations and facilities improvements, and public relations services to promote the image of racing and attract outside betting, as well as to promote horse racing.

In Italy, the prize money from the finances that U.N.I.R.E. derives from bets is awarded in harness racing to the first five horses to finish in every race and is divided up as follows:

to the owners: 74%
to the trainers: 8%
to the breeders: 18%

Prize money collection over the last six years has varied as follows:

1994 75,250,290 Euro
1995 79,163,230 Euro
1996 95,769,082 Euro
1997 103,531,187 Euro
1998 98,368,772 Euro
1999 95,277,874 Euro        
(note: 1 Euro = 1.936,27 Lire)

The expansion and contraction in prize money collection over the last several years has been closely linked to TRIS betting revenue trends.

TRIS is a national betting scheme based on just one race, for which the bettors must indicate the first three horses to finish in proper order; this betting scheme is now on the decline due to the rise of new games of chance, particularly the rise of Superenalotto, which can, after many weeks, pay the winner a sum as high as approximately 43,898,836 Euro.

Tris is run and played five times a week and records an average movement/betting of approximately 2,582,284 Euro, with an average winning take of approximately 774 Euro.

Over the last several years, a profound change in public tastes and preferences has occurred: people are shifting from bets based on knowledge and analysis to number games that usually produce few winners but head-spinning sums.

Nonetheless, the prospects for horse betting in Italy, which was once run by UNIRE and is now managed directly by the Ministry of Finance, are optimistic thanks in part to changes in the number of sales points, which are planned to total 1000 Horse Race Agencies (300 at the moment) beginning January 1, 2000 for placing of all horse bets and 18,000 points (14000 at the moment) for placing TRIS bets only. Italy’s surface area is about 300,000 km˛ and the population is about 58,000,000 inhabitants.

In 1998, a crisis year for Italian horse racing, in the 2,511 days of races, 69% of which were harness races and 31% gallop races, the bets collected were 2,606,291,000 Euro, of which 9% were on-course, 60% off-course and 31% on TRIS.

Unfortunately, the decline in betting has been accompanied by a decline in the number of horse tracks*, which must continue to be maintained and promoted as the "calling card" of the entire horse racing world.

* In 1998 in every race day, 560 persons attended race tracks.

The number of race days and the number of trotter races increased steadily up to 1999, when a decline of 8% in races was recorded:

1994 11,359
1995 11,617
1996 12,862
1997 13,834
1998 14,363
1999 13,214

The number of trotters competing in races grew significantly from 8,482 in 1994 to 10,272 in 1998, an increase of 21.6% horses.

Corresponding to the increase in quantity has been an improvement in quality, thanks in large measure to the quality of cross-breeding, which is promoted by the System and desired by breeders. This constant improvemenet was crowned by the generation of 1996 with VIKING KRONOS (record 1’12"1) and VARENNE (record 1’12"6), by the percentage of these newcomers on the track fixed at the (55.42%), and, moreover, by the observation that 42.80% of these newcomers, have turned in 1998 for example a record of 1’18" or better.

An indicator of constantly improving selection is the percentage of appearances on the track, notwithstanding a deliberate cutback in births and thus registration in the Genealogical Book of the Italian Trotter Horse.

From 4923 foals in 1994, there has been a decline to an estimated 4050 foals this year. In 1998, there were an average 10 horses starting in each of the 14,363 races.

The 10,272 horses to run on the track have competed for an average of 9,576 Euro (Lire 18,541,721) pro-capita, while each starting horse (total starting horses in 1998: 141,588) competed for an average of 695 Euro (Lire 1,245,708) pro-capita.

The breeding of trotting horses in Italy, at the end of 1980, was affected by a crisis of over-production, reaching almost six thousand foals per year, and causing a lot of difficulties to the breeders for the sale of their products.

The breeding farms are, in great majority, small or medium size with an average of 2.5 broodmares each.

The Regions with larger production of foals are Lombardia (804), Emilia Romagna (788), Veneto (543), Toscana (503) and Campania (462).

If you look at the blood-lines of broodmares you find that Sharif di lesolo and his older sons (Zebů and Argo Vé) are prevalent. Also other older Italian blood-lines (Oriolo-Bourbon-Lanson) are still present. Nevertheless you can notice an increase of broodmares from the great American stallions (especially Super Bowl and Speedy Crown) and you can presume that the recent importation in Italy of many American Sires of superior standard (Supergill, Armbro Goal, Baltic Speed, Royal Prestige, Crowning Point and others) will increase the percentage of broodmares deriving from the best American blood-lines.

As regards to the stallions operating in Italy, we find that, in the last years, a group of sires are always in the first positions in the statistics of money won by their sons. This group consists of 3 stallions from Sharif di lesolo (Indro Park, Zebů, Lemon Dra) and 3 from Speedy Somolli (Park Avenue Joe, Friendly Face, Wakiki Beach) and among the newcomers Supergill has immediately good results, while for other renowned American stallions it seems, at least for the moment, that they have some difficulties in succeeding in Italy.

For the system of covering broodmares there are no official figures, but according to some important stallion owners, we can estimate:

10% natural covering
90% articifical covering

using mainly fresh semen, but also refrigerated transported semen. The frozen semen is estimated to be used for less than 10% of the matings.

Italian trotters start racing, in majority, at two years according to the averages registered in the last years and indicated in the following data:

2 years: 30%
3 years: 20%
4 years and more: 1%

with a total percentage of starters of 51% of foals born.

To be able to run one’s own horses, specific authorization must be obtained from E.N.C.A.T., which also recognizes permits granted by other equivalent foreign authorities.

In Italy, approximately 3400 stables participate in horse races, 33% of which fielding at least 5 horses.

E.N.C.A.T. regulates the qualification of trainers, drivers, and gentlemen drivers.

A total of 1634 licenses were issued and renewed in 1998, including:

602 trainer-drivers;
24 trainers;
243 drivers;
180 student drivers;
585 gentlemen drivers.

The races are supervised by outside judges who are qualified by E.N.C.A.T. and rotated among the various race tracks to ensure uniform judging.

Oversight activities are rounded out by a first level Disciplinary Commission and An Appeals Commission, both of which are chaired by a magistrate named by the Ministry.

E.N.C.A.T. is a promoter of the petition for a Unified Racing Code for the member nations of the U.E.T., as explained at this conference by M. Chartier, General Secretary of the U.E.T. This racing code already respects the International Agreement against Doping signed by the U.E.T. member nations.

It is hoped that the fight against doping (available test results show a positive sampling rate of 3%) and the Unified Racing Code are common goals that can be achieved soon for improved certification of racing results. Such certification is essential to selection of the trotter and a tangible sign of the due respect that should be accorded to those who, for various reasons, participate in or enjoy our equestrian show sport.


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