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Winners in the rain: Iquitos and Ian Ferguson. www.galoppfoto.de


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 434 vom Donnerstag, 08.09.2016

The weather played an important role in last week´s “Grosse Woche” at Baden-Baden, as always the best meeting of the year in Germany. The first five days of the meeting were staged in a blistering heatwave, while it rained heavily on the final day which featured the Group One Grosser Preis von Baden. The track had been well watered during the week – too well, in the opinion of many trainers and jockeys- so that the going on Sunday was far from ideal. The insistence of the main German racecourses to run their top race of the meeting on the final day, Hamburg´s Derby is the other obvious example, means that the big race is always almost run on bad ground. At least that will not be the case next year, as the 2017 Deutsches Derby will be run on July 2nd, which will be the third day of the meeting; this was not the wish of the race club but was forced upon them by the fact that the G20 conference will take place in Hamburg the following weekend, which means not only armed police on every corner but also that all hotels are already fully booked.

The bad ground no doubt influenced the result of the Grosser Preis, as some runners clearly did not show their form, but this should not detract from an impressive performance by the winner Iquitos (Adlerflug), who came from last place to win easily from Nightflower (Dylan Thomas), runner-up here for the second year running. Iquitos has done nothing but improve all season and also won the big race at the May meeting at Baden-Baden, following which he was runner-up to Protectionist (Monsun) at Hamburg and then fourth in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis at Munich. This was a first Group One success for him, and also for his veteran trainer Hans-Jürgen Gröschel (73) and Scottish-born jockey Ian Ferguson (45).

Iquitos seems to act on any ground, but what he needs is a strong pace, so that he can switched off at the rear of the field and then brought with his trademark late run. Ferguson carried out these tactics to perfection on Sunday and he can thank the front-runners Wasir (Rail Link) and British challenger Dylan Mouth (Dylan Thomas) for setting such a good pace in the conditions. Both of them weakened quickly in the straight, as did the favourite Serienholde (Soldier Hollow); the winner of the Preis der Diana (Oaks) raced in third for much of the way but found disappointingly little and appears not to stay a mile and a half. Best three-year-old was in fact Pagella (Soldier Hollow), who was the outsider of the field and here completely reversed Diana form with Serienholde.

The two three-year-old colts in the field also ran badly: Dschingis Secret, a close third in the Derby at Hamburg, was never in the race, while Boscaccio (Mount Nelson), winner of the Union-Rennen and beaten favourite in the Derby, clearly hated the ground and was tailed off. However it would be wrong to conclude from this result that this year´s German Derby form is not working out. On the contrary, Hamburg runner-up Savoir Vivre (Adlerflug) has won the Grand Prix de Deauville, fourth-placed Wai Key Star (Soldier Hollow) was an easy winner at Hanover and sixth-placed Our Last Summer (Zamindar) has won the Norwegian Derby. Moonshiner (Adlerflug) who had earlier defeated Our Last Summer in the Derby trial at Bremen, but did not run in the big race itself, won last Sunday´s Prix de Lutece.

The above results make it clear that Soldier Hollow and Adlerflug, both sons of In The Wings, have been the dominating sires in Germany this year. The former stands at Gestüt Auenquelle for a fee listed as”private”, but believed to be in the region of 20,000 euros, while the latter was a bargain at 5,500 euros this year but is certain to cost more for the 2017 covering season. He stands at Gestüt Harzburg and despite the current problems there – and many enticing offers from abroad – he is expected to stay there. Harzburg is the oldest stud farm in Germany, dating back to the fifteenth century, and belonged to the Dukes of Brunswick. The ducal properties have been taken over by the state, and the stud is now the property of the state bank of Lower Saxony, who has made it clear that breeding racehorses is not part of its core business. A group of Bad Harzburg racegoers has chipped in to keep the stud going in local hands, so this story looks like having a happy ending. Another son of Adlerflug could be in the headlines this week, as Ito has been supplemented for the Prix Foy and must have a decent chance.

Early indications are that this season´s crop of German two-year-olds is well up to par as well. Mario Hofer has already had two juveniles run second in well-contested French group races – Hargeisa (Speightstown) in last week's Prix d´Arenberg and High Alpha (Fuissé) this week in the Prix des Chenes. However pride of place has to go to Gestüt Ammerland´s  homebred Navarra King (Lope de Vega), who has won both his starts in good style and was particularly impressive when taking Baden- Baden´s Steinhoff Zukunftsrennen last Sunday. He looks a major prospect for next season and is already rated at 105, an extremely high rating for a German two-year-old at this stage of the season. He could run next in the Preis des Winterfavoriten at Cologne on October 16th, usually the best German juvenile race of the season.

David Conolly-Smith

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