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The English page - Baden-Baden finished for 2020 but black type season continues

Noble Heidi, Champion 2yold filly in Germany. www.galoppfoto.de - Sarah Bauer


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 641 vom Freitag, 23.10.2020

Last Sunday saw the final day of racing at Germany´s leading racecourse Baden-Baden, in the village of Iffezheim. Obviously this has been an extremely difficult year, as it has been basically for all racecourses. Baden Racing, the company which runs the racing (the actual land is the property of the village) were already making a loss in the previous years, and have been financial support by Deutscher Galopp, the umbrella organization which controls thoroughbred racing here (previously known as German Racing, and before that the Direktorium), also from the German Owners ´ and Breeders´ Association and the sales company BBAG, whose offices and sa,les rung are just down the road. 

Baden Racing estimate that they have lost an additional 750,000 euros in 2020 through missing ticket sales and gate money. The main shareholders in Baden Racing are Dr. Andreas Jacobs, whose family are also owners of the leading studs Fährhof in Germany, Newsells Park in the U.K. and Maine Chance in South Africa, and Paul von Schubert, whose family owns Gestüt Ebesloh and are also the publishers of Germany´s leading, in fact only, racing newspaper; they have made it clear that they are no longer prepared to stand these losses indefinitely and have given notice to the village of Iffezheim that they are cancelling their lease agreement (currently 200,000 euros p.a.) as of 31.12.20; presumably the lease can be renegotiated, but is clear that there are questions over the future of the racecourse, one of the most historical (since 1858) and also beautiful in Europe, so that possibly next year we shall see a completely different scenario.

In recent years Baden-Baden has always staged three meetings a year, four day in late May, six days in late August/ early September, and two days in mid-October, all accompanied by BBAG sales. This year they were reduced to two days in May, five days in September  and just one day –last Sunday  in October;  In all they staged 89 races (13 of them last Sunday!) with total prize-money of 1.5 million euros (with many of the op races slashed by half) and betting turnover of 4 million euros. These last two figures are good by local standards, but not of course in international terms.

The two main races on Sunday were both 2yo events, the Group Three Preis der Winterkönigin, Germany´s top race for 2yo fillies, and the Ferdinand Leisten-Memorial, a sales race over seven furlongs which with prize-money of 200,000 euros (100k to the winner) is the most valuable juvenile race of the German season. Both races looked very competitive, but in the event they were both won by the well-supported favourite.

In the Preis der Winterkönigin it was French-bred Noble Heidi (Intello), who have her youg sire his first German group race victory whren coming with a well-timed run to cut down the front-runner, Gestüt Brümmehof´s homebred Novemba (Gleneagles) in the final furlong and win  cosily by three parts of a length. Dr. Christoph Berglar´s homebred Amazing Grace (Protectionist) ran on well from the rear to finish an eye-catching third, while the rest wére never seen with a chance. All three look distinctly useful, and Amazing Grace (Protectionist) is clearly one to follow over longer distances, while trainer Peter Schiergen reported that Novemba is likely to be aimed at the German 1,000 Guineas.

The winner is likely to miss that race, according to trainer Henk Grewe, with the Preis der Diana (Oaks<) the main target, although she could take in the French version as well. She was a 70,000 euros BBAG purchase, and now looks very well bought at that price, but was consigned by Haras de l´Hotellerie and is therefore eligible for the lucrative French premiums. This was in fact Noble Heidi´s first race in Germany, and her first three starts had all been in France, including victories in Compiegne and Chantilly, for that reason. Her second dam Turning Leaf (Last Tycoon) had indeed been a listed winner in Germany and had also run third in the German 1,000 Guineas, while the next dam Tamacana (Windwurf) was also a listed winner here. This is also the extended family of the very smart Tai Chi (High Chaparral), Germany´s champion 2yo in 2011 and now a promising sire, and going further back, the top class Turfkönig as well as – now moving forward again- this year´s Deauville winner Thorin. The handicapper has now given Noble Heidi a rating of German GAG 93 ½ (=international 107), the best for some years.

That race was clearly the classiest event, but it is quite possible that the winner of the sales race Principe (Free Eagle) will turn out in the long run to be an even better racehorse, even though he has to be satisfied for the moment with a rating of GAG 87. But he ran out a most convincing winner, scoring with the greatest of ease by 5 lengths, although no doubt the quality of those that finished behind him was clearly inferior to that of the runners in the fillies´ race. Principe had been runner-up on his debut (in a photo-finish) but certainly made no mistake here. He came from a long way back to lead at the disdtancer and tzhrn sprint clear. He was a 125,000 euros yearling and looks worth every penny.

Like Noble Heidi, he is by a sire Free Eagle (High Chaparral) who was having his first ever winner in Germany, but is regarded as a major hope for the future. Principe´s dam Paraisa (Red Ransom) is a half-sister to the very smart Potemkin, a Group One winner for the same connections. He is owned by ex-football star Klaus Allofs in partnership with Gestüt Fährhof, who bred him.  Ironically neither Allofs nor his trainer Andreas Wöhler was present to witness this impressive victory, as the former was at a football match, still his main job, while the latter was holed up in an Australian hotel where he is quarantined while preparing a runner for the Melbourne Cup. However they can look forward to a lot of fun with this horse next season; Allofs and Wöhler won this race a few years back with Wake Forest, who went on to Group One Glory in the USA, and this one could be equally successful. In theory he would receive 5 kilos from Noble Heidi in the unlikely event that they will ever meet and this writer certainly knows which one he would be backing in that case.

The season is still far from over, and we have black type races in Germany for the next four Sundays before the winter programme gets under way at Dortmund´s sand track in late November. The card at Hanover this Sunday has 11 races, including two Group Threes and two listed events. The Group Thee for fillies and mares over 2200 metres has an interesting British unner, Hughie Morrison´s well bred Cosmic Princess (Kingman), who has decent form to her credit, including a good second place  at Saint-Cloud, which gives her a definite chance. Best of the locals could be Snow (Sea The Moon), with our favourite jockey, and Sunny Queen (Camelot), whose fourth place in a stronger field at Baden-Baden reads very well in the context of this race.

The other group race is one that would normally have been run last week at Baden-Baden as the Baden-Württemberg Trophy over 2000 metres. Wai Key Star (Soldier Hollow) was a narrow winner of a similar race at Baden-Baden in early September, but now has to concede weight all round, which looks difficult. At these weights we prefer last season´s top 2yo Wonderful Moon (Sea The Moon), if trainer Henk Grewe can bring him back into form.

David Conolly-Smith

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