The great Italian horseman Federico Tesio bred the unbeaten Nearco, one of the most influential stallions in history, and Ribot, one of the greatest of European racehorses. They, with a dizzying number of other champions, were raised at his Dormello Stud in Northern Italy, situated on the banks of Lake Maggiore. An architect of buildings and racehorses, Tesio designed Dormello to his own specifications, and for years–decades–the produce of the stud won the greatest races in Italy and some of the most prestigious in Europe.
Established in 1898 by Tesio and his wife, Lydia, with additions made over the years, Dormello was a mature operation when Tesio died in 1954, the year Ribot was 2. He missed the grand colt’s exploits at 3 and 4, when he twice won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France, as well as the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in Britain at 4, but the legacy of Ribot, Nearco, and others from Dormello has lived on. And so, too, has the physical stud itself, under different ownership. A North American breeder recently visited what was once Tesio’s famed Dormello, still painted in the white and red colors of the maestro, also known at the “Wizard of Dormello.” What he found was an immaculately designed nursery on land that was calming to humans and horses alike. “There is no noise, and the paddocks are shaded by trees. The stalls are huge, and they are designed for the horse’s well being: stalls not only allow the horse to look outside, but sideways, too, because bars at the top separate stalls, allowing them to see their neighbors.” Below are photos, taken only weeks ago. For more information on Tesio, read Fionnuala Timoney’s post on Tesio at her Calvados Bloodstock blog.