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The English page - Baden Baden May meeting this weekend

Sunny Queen, Listed winner thursday in Hanover, Jockey Andrasch Starke (l.). Trainer Henk Grewe (l.) has now won six of eight Black Type races in Germany 2020. www.galoppfoto.de - Sabine Brose


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 619 vom Freitag, 22.05.2020

After the successful resumption of German racing a fortnight ago, we had an equally successful second week of racing – all behind closed doors, of course - with Munich staging racing last Friday with Düsseldorf on Saturday and Cologne on Sunday. All these fixtures also proceeded well with no problems, and it is clear that we are going to have to get used to this kind of racing with no spectators, strict distancing and jockeys wearing face masks for quite a long time to come. Germany appears to be coping much better with the coronavirus crisis than most other countries and restrictions are very slowly being relaxed. The German racing authorities have now published a provisional list of fixtures up to the end of August, and it is expected that all these meetings will still be held behind closed doors, although it is possible that slightly more people will at some stage be allowed on to the racecourse, e.g. owners, although always under strict conditions. But the situation is so far much clearer here than for example in France, with the shock news this week that there will no racing on the Paris tracks in the near future, and also in the U.K. and Ireland, although both countries have now published definite dates for their top races  in June and July.

While the main focus a fortnight ago was on trials for the colts´ classics, last weekend the 3yo fillies were centre stage, with a listed race at Düsseldorf over the course and distance of the German 1,000 Guineas (June 21st) and a Group Three over the same distance at Cologne. Trainer Henk Grewe and jockey Andrasch Starke had dominated the first weekend, winning all three top races, and continued in this vein at Düsseldorf, where in Stefan Hahnes colurs Flamingo Girl (Soldier Hollow), a 36,000 euros BBAG yearling bred by Gestüt Park Wiedingen, ran out a very smooth winner after being held up in last place and coming with a strong run in the straight. Her dam never ran, but this is an excellent family and she looks certain to stay much further than this trip; Hoppegarten´s Group Two Diana-Trial is expected to be her next race and then, all being well, the Diana (Oaks) itself. Stefan Hahne is also the owner of Sunny Queen (Camelot), a Listed winner on thursday in Hannover, bred by Stefan Oschmann, sold at Baden-Baden for 3500 euros. 

The following day´s Schwarzgold-Rennen attracted a much stronger field, at least on paper, and the Grewe-Starke team suffered a rare reverse when their Schwesterherz (Areion) weakened into fifth place after making the early running. The winner here was Gestüt Karlshof´s homebred No Limit Credit (Night of Thunder) who ran on very gamely to score for local trainer Andreas Suborics. She was led out unsold at 32,000 euros at the BBAG Yearling Sale, but connections must in retrospect be very pleased, as she won five times that amount for them as a 2yo, winning two lucrative sales races, and now as a group winner is much more valuable. She was the first winner in Germany for her leading young sire and is now ante-post favourite for the German 1,000 Guineas; she is also entered in both the Italian and German Oaks, although on breeding she is not certain to stay that far. There was some consolation for Grewe and Starke, when the Darboven homebred Power Euro (Peintre Celebre) held on in a driving finish to win the main supporting feature, a listed race over 3000 metres. The 8yo gelding won five races last season and is a most genuine and consistent performer; his long range target is the German St. Leger, in which he was unplaced last year.

Now we have another long weekend, with Hanover with two listed races for fillies on Thursday (more details elsewhere in this issue), Dresden on Friday, and most importantly, Baden-Baden on Saturday and Sunday. The May Meeting at the Black Forest track is now reduced to two days, with 12 races including two group races each day. The two main events, Saturday´s Badener Meile and Sunday´s Grosser Preis der Badischen Wirtschaft are both Group Two races for 4yo´s and up, but there are also several highly interesting races for 3yo´s and also the first 2yo race of the season, the Badener Jugendpreis. Baden-Baden, which normally attracts big crowds, lots of runners from other countries and the biggest betting turnover of any German racecourse, will certainly seem strange with no racegoers, no on course betting, and no foreign runners, who are not allowed to run here until June.

The big question here will be to see if the horses that have already run in the past fortnight have an advantage or not (the “bounce”) compared to those coming off a long, and usually longer than intended, break. Of the ten entered in the Badener Meile, seven have run recently, including the easy winner Aviateur (Intense Focus) and the 4yo filly Axana (Soldier Hollow), who was beaten a short head at Hanover and was runner-up last year in the German 1,000 Guineas. History is against Axana in that her trainer Andreas Wöhler has rather surprisingly never won this race and also that only one filly has been successful this century, but she still looks the one to beat. Best of those now making their seasonal debut is clearly the 7yo gelding Wonnemond (Areion), one of the most consistent German milers of recent years; he usually runs well here and was third in this race in 2017.

Main supporting feature on Saturday is the Group Three Silberne Peitsche (Silver Whip) over six furlongs, in  which no fewer than 8 of the 13 runners ran in the listed race over slightly longer at Hanover a fortnight ago. Wöhler´s 5yo Irish-bred Majestic Colt (Clovodil) won that, showing an impressive burst of speed to get up close home from Tosen Shauna (Alhabayeb), with Namos (Medicean), Power Jack (Sepoy), McQueen (Silver Frost) and Zargun (Rock of Gibraltar) close up in the next five places. Namos, who won this race last year, is now two kilos better off and could turn the tables, and Zargun also looks a danger, but Majestic Colt was a convincing winner despite the narrow margins, and could well run up a sequence.

Sunday´s big race looks very open. Itobo (Areion) and Windstoß (Shirocco) finished first and third here last year; Windstoss, winner of the 2017 German Derby and a good runner-up in a similar race at Cologne two weeks ago, could well be placed again, but we prefer two 4yo´s. The filly Durance (Champs Elysees) was second in a listed race at Hanover a fortnight ago and last season she was third in the Preis der Diana and an excellent runner-up in Canada´s E.P.Taylor Stakes. Quest The Moon (Sea The Moon) was a rather unlucky fourth in the 2019 German Derby and is highly regarded in his Munich stable, which is already in good form. The 6yo Parlan (Lord of England) won a minor event in Düsseldorf last Saturday and is moving up in grade here; he has won seven of his eight starts and is certainly not out of it against this much stronger opposition.

The best race for 3yo´s at the meeting is Sunday´s Group Three Derby Trial. In which most of the ten runners have a Derby entry. Anatello (Intello) and Palm Springs (Maxios) were both easy maiden winners this month and are moving up in class and the same goes for Mülheim runner-up Shut Down (Siyouni). All of them could go well, but we prefer the form of the Cologne Classic a fortnight ago, in which Palao (Champs Elysees) finished third, Near Poet (Poet´s Voice) fourth, Soul Train (Manduro) fifth and Toscano (Youmzain) seventh. Palao could come out the best of these again, while Adrian (Reliable Man), from the powerful Grewe stable, looks a big threat on his seasonal debut. Grewe already has the first two in the Derby betting and can add another string to his bow here.

David Conolly-Smith

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