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The English page - Bargain buy wins the St. Leger

St. Leger winner Aff un zo (Adrie de Vries). www.galoppfoto.de - Stephanie Gruttmann


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 687 vom Freitag, 24.09.2021

The most interesting race run last weekend in Germany was the Group Three RaceBets 137th Deutsches St. Leger in Dortmund. In common with most other countries (excepting of course the original version in Doncaster) this race has been open to older horses, in this case since 2007. And older horses have won eight times  since then. However this latest edition saw only one older horse in the line-up, the 5yo mare Naida (Reliable Man), and she was well held on this season´s form and played no role.

Nizami (New Approach), presumably acting as pacemaker for the same owner's Alborz (Reliable Man), made the running, with favourite Loft (Adlerflug) leading the pack at a respectable distance; Nizami dropped out early in the straight, leaving Loft in front much earlier than  he would have liked, but Aff un Zo (Kallisto) could be seen going very well in fourth place, and he mastered Loft at the distance and stayed on strongly to the line, winning by 1 ½ lengths. Loft kept on well for second, seven lengths clear of the filly Normfliegerin (Adlerflug), who just held the second favourite Sun of Gold (Golden Horn) by a short head for third place. The latter's trainer Jean-Pierre Carvalho afterwards was very critical of the track, which was much softer than expected after a long dry spell. However there is no doubt that Aff un Zo was the best horse on the day; bred by Thomas Gehrig, he was well bought for only 13,000 euros at the BBAG October Sale as a yearling. His dam Andarta (Platini) was an own sister to the smart Antara, who won group races in England and Germany, and was Group One-placed in France and Italy.

Aff un Zo's rating has been put up to German GAG 95 (=international 110), which seems reasonable. He started as 9-2 third favourite here, but had arguably the best form coming into the race. He had been a good fifth of 20 in the German Derby, beaten just over 3 lengths and well ahead of Alborz and Sun of Gold. He could go next for the Silbernes Pferd at Hoppegarten, a Group Three over 3000 metres at the end of October, in which he could meet several of these rivals again. Aff un Zo is also entered in the BBAG Mixed Sale next month and is clearly an interesting prospect

Aff un Zo is trained at Röttgen by Markus Klug, who is enjoying a good season and could well finish as champion trainer (by number of winners) for the fifth time. He is especially strong in the juvenile department and earlier in the afternoon he had saddled Gestüt Ittlingen´s homebred Antero (Manduro) to an impressive victory in the 2yo maiden over 1750 metres.  Antero had been runner-up in decent company on his debut at Düsseldorf in August and started at odds-on here. He possibly did not have much to beat, but certainly looked very promising and is now joint-favourite for next month´s Preis des Winterfavoriten, while according to Klug´s new stable jockey Andrasch Starke “will be even better next season.” His sire, the late Manduro (Monsun), one of the best German-breds of all time, is having an excellent posthumous year. Klug had another good 2yo winner a few days earlier, when the Gestüt Karlshof homebred Mylady (The Grey Gatsby) ran out a narrow winner of the listed Junioren-Preis at Düsseldorf after having to be switched.

The action now moves to Cologne who stage their biggest race of the year this Sunday, the Group One 59th Preis von Europa. This writer can remember the days when this race was not only the most valuable race of the season in Germany, but also one of the most valuable in Europe, and was won by such German stars as LombardNebosWindwurf and Lomitas and such top international performers as Glint of GoldSumayr, and the Russian champion Anilin. Those days are long gone, and it is now just another “ordinary” Group One, but this year´s field is much stronger than some recent editions and it promises to be a fascinating clash of the generations, with four 4yo´s taken on by five 3yo´s. Star of the show is likely to be Miss Kirsten Rausing´s homebred Alpinista (Frankel), trained in Newmarket by Sir Mark Prescott. The 4yo filly has already run in Germany, winning Hoppegarten's Grosser Preis von Berlin, and a repeat of that form would make her very hard to beat here.

In Berlin she was a comfortable winner from Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug), next time out winner of the Grosser Preis von Baden, with the Godolphin raider Walton Street in third, and he won last week´s Canadian International by five lengths, while Aff un Zo also ran at Hoppegarten, finishing seventh. Not only that, her pedigree is an additional plus point. Not only is her sire Frankel winning everything in sight, her dam Alwilda (Hernando) was a listed winner in Cologne, while her own dam Albanova (Alzao) was trained by Prescott to win three German Group Ones in 2004, including the Preis von Europa itself. This is Miss Rausing´s best family with numerous top class performers this century.

Alpinista seems certain to start a warm favourite, but of course she still has to win and she faces some decent opposition, headed by this year´s German Derby winner Sisfahan (Isfahan); on his only start since that Hamburg success he finished a good runner-up to Torquator Tasso at Baden-Baden. On that form he still has something to find, but he is very lightly raced and almost certainly has more improvement to come. Another 3yo who could be dangerous is the Schlenderhan-homebred Northern Ruler (Ruler of the World), who has raced mainly so far in France; it could be significant that trainer Andreas Wöhler has booked top French jockey Maxime Guyon to partner him; Guyon was aboard when he won the Prix du Lys at Chantilly in June and also on his subsequent starts. 

Schlenderhan also has the filly Walkaway (Adlerflug) entered; she was runner-up in a Baden-Baden Group Two last time, decent form but possibly not quite good enough. She is trained by Markus Klug, who also has the 4yo Kaspar (Pivotal) in the race; the third place in last year´s German Derby, not far behind Torquator Tasso, was good form, and he is a group race winner this year as well. He is due to be sold at the Arqana Arc sale next week.  But the biggest danger to Alpinista and Sisfahan may be the latter´s stable companion, the 4yo filly Sunny Queen (Camelot), who beat Torquator Tasso in last year´s Grosser Preis von Bayern; her three starts this season have not been inspiring, but a return to her Munich form would certainly put her in the mix. Alpinista remains the logical choice, but her rivals are certainly not to be underestimated; however it would be a surprise if she were not to emulate her granddam and give Miss Rausing and Sir Mark Prescott yet another big race victory in Germany.

David Conolly-Smith


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