Ausgabe 685 vom Freitag, 10.09.2021
Last week´s “Grosse Woche” (= “great week”) at Baden-Baden must be regarded as a great success. It was the first meeting at the Iffezheim racecourse under the new management team Baden Galopp, and, apart from a few minor hitches and teething problems, all went well and the final three days of the meeting were run in glorious late summer weather, also a huge positive so even the weather played its part. The only big problem was when the first race on Saturday had to be voided after a false start, but that is hardly the fault of the race club. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive: “pure joy” according to Deutscher Galopp president Michael Vesper, and “all´s well that ends well” according to senior handicapper Harald Siemen´s weekly blog.
Siemen was referring not only to the success of the meeting per se, when there were over 27,000 racegoers over the four days, including 8,600 on the final day; theoretically there would have been 10,000 spectators allowed, but this was never a realistic scenario. Instead the racecourse was comfortably crowded with a great atmosphere, and most racegoers stayed until the final event on the 11- and 12-race cards. The betting turnover of 2.5 million euros over the meeting (more than half of which was on course) was well above expectations, and by far the best in Germany since the start of the pandemic, but of course still peanuts compared to Hong Kong, Japan or Saratoga.
Siemen was also referring to the actual racing results. 44 races were run over the four days (not counting the voided one) and the vast majority of them had decent fields, were well run and had convincing winners. And, just as used to be the case in the “good old days”, there was a strong international element. Top Spanish trainer Guillermo Arizcorreta sent three runners on the long journey and was rewarded with two group race successes (more details below); on the final weekend there were also winners trained in France (the race for Arabian purebreds), Holland, Austria and Belgium. However the top race of the week, the 149th Wettstar Grosser Preis von Baden, ended with the victory of Germany´s best horse, the 4yo Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug) from this year´s German Derby winner Sisfahan (Isfahan), with the Godolphin runner – from the team that had won the last three editions - a well-beaten third and the French candidate pulled up.
Oisin Murphy rode the Godolphin contestant Passion and Glory (Cape Cross), who had won at Glorious Goodwood last time out (but was up in grade here) and afterwards said that it had been “a messy race.” He was certainly right there. The trouble began early when longshot Pessemona (War Command) was left at the start; she later condescended to race, but finished tailed off. Worse was to come when French raider Millebosc (Le Havre) sailed wide round the first two bends and had to be pulled up; jockey Adrie de Vries reported that it was the first time that the colt, who had been third in the Prix du Jockey Club, had run on a left-handed track and he simply could not handle it.
Millebosc had led very early but after his departure in the direction of the Black Forest, Murphy made the running on Passion and Glory from outsider Vallando (Lord of England) with the three remaining runners well in touch. Approaching the final turn, Rene Piecheluk on the favourite Torquator Tasso moved his mount into a challenging position on the outside, closely followed by Sisfahan. They were briefly either side of Passion and Glory, who was short of space, but he looked already beaten at the time, and that left Torquator Tasso and Sisfahan fighting it out to the line, with the former always just holding his younger rival and finally scoring by a length, with Passion and Glory more than three lengths back in third. Kaspar (Pivotal) was a never dangerous fourth. Although the pace did not appear to be especially fast, the time of the race was very good at 2 minutes 29.21 seconds, the fastest since 2007.
This was certainly the “right” result from the German point of view. Torquator Tasso, who is owned by Gestüt Auenquelle but is not a homebred, having been bought for 24,000 euros at the 2018 Sales & Racing Festival, was a deserving winner and has been a very consistent performer at this level. This was his second Group One success and he has been placed in his four other races in this grade. He is from an excellent family, originally based at Schlenderhan, and his fourth dam is none other than Allegretta (Lombard), the Schlenderhan mare who is dam of Arc winner Urban Sea, herself the dam of supersires Galileo and Sea The Stars. Torquator Tasso, bred by Dutchman Paul Vandeberg, was Germany´s Horse of the Year for 2020 and has obvious chances of repeating this success this year. He is Germany´s highest-rated performer and his rating has now been slightly adjusted upwards to GAG 99 ½ (=international 119) while Sisfahan has been put up to 98 ½ (=117), so that this year´s German Derby form is certainly now looking better than we thought. Torquator Tasso´s rating is currently the highest of any horse in training in Germany, but he still has a mountain to climb in his next race, the Prix de l´Arc de Triomphe. However he is a very tough and game performer and will not be disgraced. The Japan Cup, a race to which the Baden-Baden winner is automatically invited, could be his final 2021 start, but the plan is to keep him in training as a 5yo and retire him to stud (at Auenquelle of course) in 2023.
The two Spanish victories came in Saturday´s Group Three Goldene Peitsche, German´s top spring event, won by Kitty Marion (Iffraaj), and Sunday´s Group Two Oettingen-Rennen over a mile, won by Rodaballo (Lope de Vega), both relatively cheaply bought at Tattersalls. The latter, who cost 21,000 guineas as a yearling, was acquired by his present connections for 55,000 guineas at the Guineas Breeze-Up Sale. Kitty Marion is closely related to Group One winner and leading sire Wootton Basset and amazingly cost only 3,000 guineas at a Horses in Training Sale after originally not living up to expectations for Godolphin.
Obviously this weekend´s racing is nowhere near as interesting at the events last week in Baden-Baden, so it will be passed over in silence. The English page is on holiday next week, but will be back the following week when there is once again plenty of black type action, including the next German Group One race, the Preis von Europa at Cologne.