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Breeding & Racing in Germany

David Conolly-Smith: www.galoppfoto.de - Frank SorgeDavid Conolly-Smith: www.galoppfoto.de - Frank SorgeIn order to be of assistance to our growing number of readers from abroad, we are with immediate effect publishing in every issue of Turf Times an English page, giving in compact form all the latest racing and breeding news from Germany in English. It will be written by the well-known racing journalist David Conolly-Smith, who has lived in Germany for many years. He is the German representative of the International Racing Bureau and writes regularly on German racing and breeding for the Racing Post, Irish Field, EBN, TRC and many other publications.

Ausgabe 611 vom Freitag, 27.03.2020

With the coronavirus continuing to spread all over the world, racing – in common with almost all other sports - has been suspended in most countries or only takes place behind closed doors or under very strict conditions. Football is by far the most popular sport in most countries, both in terms of the number of spectators and of media coverage, but racing comes second (at a distance) in many areas.

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Ausgabe 610 vom Freitag, 20.03.2020

The rapid spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Europe is causing major problems for all spectator sports, and racing is no exception. All racing in France and the U.K. has been suspended, while Ireland has imposed strict conditions with racing going on behind closed doors and not even the owners allowed to be present. In this country, the earliest possible date for racing to be resumed is April 19th, when the Frühjahrs-Meile at Düsseldorf, the first group race of the German season, will we hope be run behind closed doors. It must be hoped that the situation will be back to normal by May, when there is a full programme including several group races and classic trials, the popular Irish Race Day at Hoppegarten on the 10th, the first classic, the Mehl-Mülhens-Renen (2,000 Guineas) at Cologne on the 17th and the Baden-Baden Spring Meeting from the 21st to the 24th.

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Ausgabe 609 vom Freitag, 13.03.2020

Germany´s winter season ended last Sunday with the last meeting on the sand track at Dortmund until winter returns in December. The outstanding feature was clearly the victory of Gestüt Ebbesloh´s homebred Inaugural (Soldier Hollow) in the 3yo “maiden” (i.e. maidens on the all-weather, the first two to finish had both won on turf as 2yo´s last year). Inaugural had shown some smart form in 2019, including a fifth place in the Herzog von Ratibor-Rennen and was the clear favourite here; he was also Peter Schiergen´s first runner of the year in Germany, although the Cologne trainer had had a couple of winners at the St. Moritz meeting last month.

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Ausgabe 608 vom Freitag, 06.03.2020

We have to start this week´s column with an apology, as last week´s article failed to appear as a result of computer problems and the technical incompetence of your correspondent.

Admittedly we did not miss too much, as the racing scene remains very quiet in Germany with only low level Sunday cards on Dortmund´s sand track to keep us going at home. This Sunday´s meeting will be the last winter fixture of the year, and the following week “proper” racing resumes with a much stronger card at Cologne; the weather remains wet and windy, but spring is definitely coming.

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Ausgabe 607 vom Freitag, 28.02.2020

…kann aus technischen Gründen heute leider nicht erscheinen. Wir bitten dies nachzusehen.  

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Ausgabe 606 vom Freitag, 21.02.2020

Things are still very quiet in German racing at the moment, with Dortmund´s Sunday meetings the only racing actually taking place until racing on turf resumes in mid-March. However there is plenty of racing going on, and some German trainers are taking advantage of the better prize-money on offer elsewhere. Dr. Andreas Bolte has sent his useful handicapper Fuego del Amor (Dream Ahead) to the Dubai Racing Carnival and he ran for the third time there, but ended once more unplaced. 

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Ausgabe 605 vom Freitag, 14.02.2020

With very little happening at the moment in German racing – the foaling season is now in full swing and the covering season is also starting, but racing is limited to low class Sunday meetings on the sand track at Dortmund– it is time perhaps to continue last week´s theme of the success of German stallions in N.H. racing, and particular those by Monsun. Even as these lines are being written, a daughter of Getaway has won quite a decent race over hurdles in Fontainebleau, while half an hour earlier in the equivalent race for colts Gestüt Karlshof´s homebred Zuckerberg was just touched off after leading most of the way. Zuckerberg is by German Derby winner Kamsin, himself a son of another German Derby winner in Samum, who was Monsun´s first Group One winner way back in the year 2020.

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Ausgabe 604 vom Freitag, 07.02.2020

The last couple of years have been mainly disappointing from the point of view of the German racing industry, but one field in which German-breds continue to do surprisingly well is that of N.H. racing, and last week saw several notable successes over jumps in Ireland, the U.K. and France for horses either with German pedigrees or with a strong German element. It is only four years since the German-bred Don Cossack (Sholokhov) won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, generally regarded as the supreme race over fences, while the same year the Champion Hurdle – the equivalent championship race over sticks - went to Annie Power (Shirocco), who was indeed Irish-bred, but by a German sire, winner of the German Derby in 2004, and out of a mare from the Anna Paola family.

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Ausgabe 603 vom Freitag, 31.01.2020

Following the publication last week of the International Classifications, we now have this week the publication of the German Free Handicap (Generalausgleich or GAG for short). While the former weights are in pounds (i.e. 454 grams), the latter are in kilos, but it is fairly simple to convert, and in any case the horses listed internationally are given the same (converted) ratings in their home countries.

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Ausgabe 602 vom Freitag, 24.01.2020

The International Classifications were published this week, and on the whole they make depressing reading, both from a general point of view and also from a German perspective. The idea that thoroughbred performance, as measured by these ratings, is continually improving is certainly disproved. The ratings on the whole are the lowest for many years and this is particularly true of the world´s three-year-olds in 2019. Classic form in almost all major racing countries was relatively poor in relation to previous years.

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Ausgabe 601 vom Freitag, 17.01.2020

Last weekend´s Irish Stallion Trail was by all accounts a big success despite horrible weather. Just about every Irish stud of note took part, from Coolmore to the Irish National Stud. This weekend sees the Route des Etalons de Normandie, also over two days, with 30 studs taking part and almost 100 stallions parading.

It is difficult to imagine such an event in Germany, although the “Tag des Gestüte” (Stud Open Day) in mid-September is very popular and 13 studs took part last year. Put simply, the quality here is good, but the quantity not enough, and also the distances are too great; there are major studs in Germany next to the Polish border (Görlsdorf) and others within sight of the Alps (Ammerland). Although most of the top stallions stand in the Rhine valley, or close to is, that also extends from the Dutch border down to Switzerland. And at the last count here are only 47 thoroughbred stallions standing in Germany, less than half the number in Normandy alone.

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Ausgabe 600 vom Freitag, 10.01.2020

The Direktorium, the German racing authority, this week published statistics on the German racing and breeding industry for 2019, and they show clearly that both industries have shrunk alarmingly this century. The peak period was in the mid-1990s, after the reunification of Germany in 1990, and throughout the 1990s racing was booming, but a clear decline set in after the turn of the century.  There are various reasons for this, including the rise of internet betting and the huge increase in sports betting (which was previously illegal in Germany), both of which caused a dramatic reduction in tote on course betting turnover, one of the main financial pillars which paid for much of the racing here.

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