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The English page - Alpinista's historic hat trick

Group One hat trick for Alpinista. www.galoppfoto.de


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 694 vom Freitag, 12.11.2021

Last Sunday´s Allianz- Grosser Preis von Bayern in Munich was the final Group One race of the European season and ended with the expected victory of Kirsten Rausing´s homebred Alpinista (Frankel) who thus completed the same German Group One hat trick as her grandam Albanova in 2004, following the Grosser Preis von Berlin in August and the Preis von Europa in September. The Grosser Preis von Berlin, now back at its historic home in Hoppegarten, was in Albanova´s day run as the Deutschland-Preis in Düsseldorf, while the Munich race, which goes back after several changes in name, to the old Aral-Pokal, was in 2004 run as the Rheinland-Pokal in Cologne, but the character of all three races has remained the same, as well as the distance of 2400 metres.

However one looks at it, this achievement of Alpinista, following in the hoofprints of her grandam, is extremely unusual and quite possibly unique. Full credit is due to Miss Rausing and trainer Sir Mark Prescott - also responsible for Albanova- - for conceiving of this plan and bringing it off so triumphantly. The family of Alruccaba, bought by Miss Rausing in partnership with Irish breeder Sonia Rogers from the Aga Khan many years ago, has been one long success story and the horses themselves are all grey, which only adds to the fascination.

On the face of it, a six horse race won by the odds-on favourite is nothing to get excited about, but this Grosser Preis von Bayern was, at least in the eyes of this observer, a highly interesting event. Alpinista certainly did not win as easily as she had done in Berlin and Cologne and had to work hard for this success. Nerium (Camelot), who had been runner-up to her in the Preis von Europa after making the running, went off again in front, but the pace was not particularly strong. Alpinista was always close up, with the second British challenger Believe in Love (Make Believe) bringing up the rear.

Alpinista moved alongside Nerium early in the straight, but the latter stuck on well, and only gave way in the final furlong. In the meanwhile a new danger had appeared in the form of local hope Mendocino, who launched a strong challenge on the inside and for a brief moment looked like being able to overtake the Rausing filly, but Alpinista kept on very gamely and finally asserted 100 yards from home, in the end scoring by three parts of a length. Jockey Luke Morris reported that she was beginning to tire in the final stages and would certainly have preferred better, i.e. less soft, ground. However she was once again the best horse in the race and a deserved winner.

Nerium kept on for third place, a length further back, and it was another length back to French raider Control Tower (Youmzain) in fourth, with Believe in Love slightly disappointing in fifth, while the 3yo Schlenderhan filly Walkaway (Adlerflug) dropped out to last place; she was in any case the outsider of the field and it has to be said that the form of the race looks spot on. Alpinista was possibly not quite as strong as she had been in Hoppegarten, the form of which race has been well boosted since, but Nerium and Control Tower ran almost exactly to their ratings.

The revelation of the race was undoubtedly runner-up Mendocino, a 3yo colt trained locally by Sarah Steinberg. He was bred by Gestüt Brümmerhof and was a 58,000 euros BBAG yearling and now runs in the colours of Steinberg´s main owner Stall Salzburg. He has always been highly rated and is very lightly raced; this race, which had been his main target all year, was only his sixth career start and was by far his best performance. His rating has been sharply improved to GAG 98 (=116 international) and he looks a major prospect for next season; the offspring of his sire Adlerflug almost invariably improve with age (e.g. Arc winner Torquator Tasso). Alpinista stays in training and according to her trainer will not be back in Germany next year, but will be aimed at the “glitzy” Group Ones, possibly starting off with the Coronation Cup and with the Arc as the ultimate target. We can event imagine her, Torquator Tasso and perhaps also Mendocino all meeting in Longchamp on the first Sunday of next October, a prospect which at least to German eyes looks extremely intriguing.

This weekend we have racing at Bremen on Saturday and Krefeld on Sunday. To be honest, the card at Bremen is pretty poor, but that is not the point. This day is highly significant, as it is the first day´s racing at this attractive North German track since Easter 2018, 3 ½ years ago. For a long time it seemed that the course, which is owned by the local council, would go the same way as Gelsenkirchen, one of the best tracks in North-Rhine-Westphalia, which closed in the year 2000 and is now a housing estate. That was also the plan of Bremen´s city authorities, but a well-organised campaign of protest has now saved the track. The racecourses at Frankfurt and Neuss have also closed down this century and are now being used for other purposes. German racing can ill afford to lose another track, and it must be hoped not only that Saturday´s start is a success, but that the track survives in the long term and once again becomes an integral part of the German racing scene.

However the card at Krefeld on Saturday is of much better quality and features the Group Three Grosser Preis der Wohnstätte Krefeld- Herzog von Ratibor-Rennen over 1700 metres, one of four German group races for 2yo´s. Although late in the season, this race has often been won by subsequent Group One stars such as Donjah, Pastorius and Neatico. Tünnes (Guiliani), currently ante-post favourite for the 2022 German Derby, is likely to start favourite. He is a half-brother to Arc winner Torquator Tasso and is one of two runners trained by Peter Schiergen. who has a good line to German 2yo form. He is also the choice of the stable jockey, but Schiergen´s second string Georgios (Poet´s Voice), who won a valuable sales race at Baden-Baden, also has a chance. Another double-handed trainer is Markus Klug, whose juveniles have been firing on all fronts, and both his runners should go well- Ariolo (Reliable Man) – who is actually top-rated- and Lavello (by leading first season sire Zarak); the latter won well at Baden-Baden last time from Maraseem (Nathaniel), but it would be no great surprise to see Maraseem improve past him this time. This is definitely a race to watch rather than bet on, and we can expect the placed horses here to play a major role in next season´s German classics.

David Conolly-Smith

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