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The English page - Best of Lips also best of crop?

Best of Lips, champion 2yr old in Germany. www.galoppfoto.de - Sandra Scherning


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 640 vom Freitag, 16.10.2020

By far the most important race run in Germany last week was Sunday´s Group Three Preis des Winterfavoriten over a mile at Cologne, one of only four German group races for 2yo´s and traditionally the best of them. As the race title implies, the winner is automatically regarded as the favourite for next season´s German Derby. In actual fact this has rarely been the case. The only Cologne winner this century who went on to win the following season´s Derby was Isfahan (Lord of England) in 2016, bred and trained by Andreas Wöhler and running in the colours of Darius Racing. In the past there have been several outstanding Cologne winners who did go on to score at Hamburg, such as Lando and Lavirco who brought off the double in the 1990s, while Lombard (Agio) was arguably unlucky in the 1970 Derby, but was clearly the best of his crop, as was Manduro (Monsun) who won in Cologne for trainer Peter Schiergen but was later transferred to André Fabre and was officially rated the best horse in the world as a 5yo in 2007.

Nine of the ten horses that were declared for Sunday´s race are also entered in the 2012 German Derby, including the first three in the race itself, but in recent years there has been e tendency for the Preis ds Winterfavoriten to be contested more by budding milers than by prospective Derby runners. That was certainly the case last year when the race was won by the smart miler Rubaiyat (Areion), also in the Darius Racing colours. In fact, in the last 30 years only six Winterfavorit runners have even contested the Derby. This writer has unearthed this rather surprising fact from the weekly blog of colleague Harald Siemen, Germany´s senior handicapper, which appears every week (in German) on the website of Deutscher Galopp and is essential reading.

Mythico (Adlerflug) made the running at a decent pace, and still led into the straight from stable companion Sea of Sands (Sea The Stars), but Franny Norton aboard Best of Lips had improved his position, comíng with a strong run in the centre of the track. Best of Lips (The Gurkha) hit the front a furlong out and soon put the race to bed, winning very convincingly by 3 ½ lengths from Sea of Sands, with Mythico 4lengths back in third and the field well strung out. The going was very soft, butnowhere near as heavy as it has been for example at Longchamp for the Arc meeting, and it was basically a very fair race with hard luck stories and a deserving winner, clearly the best horse in the race on the day.

It was only the third race of Best the Lips´ career; after running third on his debut at Munich in late August, he had then won his maiden very easily at Dortmund on German St. Leger day, when also partnered by Franny Norton, but demonstrated much more here and on this showing must be regarded as the top German juvenile seen out so far in 2020. Trainer Andreas Suborics, who has been in tremendous form in recent weeks, was really impressed: “I rode a lot of good 2yo´s during my career as a jockey, but never one like this one. He is very, very good and will improve further.” Best of Lips could go next for the Group One Criterium de Saint Cloud and present plans are for him to run there. Harald Siemen has given him a rating of GAG 95.5 (=international 111), a good – but not outstanding--rating for a winner of the Cologne race.

Best of Lips was bred by Stall Parthenaue and races in the colours of Stall Lintec, but the man behind both of these entities is I.T. inventor and entrepreneur Hans-Dieter Lindemeyer, so he is a homebred. Herr Lindemeyer had owned many good racehorses over the years and has been particularly successful with fillies. The best of them was arguably Mystic Lips (Generous), who won both German fillies´ classics in 2007 and is, like so many classic-winning German fillies, now in Japan, where she has bred a couple of winners. The word “Lips” which features in the names of almost all his horses, refers not to the part of the body with which we kiss, but to his home town of Leipzig.

He is the first group race winner for his sire, Coolmore´s The Gurkha (Galileo) and his family has Wildenstein roots. It is not clear from his pedigree whether he will stay the full German Derby distance, but that race, to be run all being well at Hamburg early next July, is obviously his main target for next year. The Gurkha was a top class miler but his record as a stallion is so far a bit patchy.  Suborics is convinced that 2000 metres will be no problem, but not so sure about 2400. “I have never yet had a runner in the Derby”, comments Suborics , “so it is nice starting off with the favourite.”

The fillies´ equivalent of the Preis des Winterfavoriten is the Preis der Winterkönigin (“Winter Queen”) and will be run this Sunday at Baden-Baden, where the October meting, which started off with three days´ racing, has now been reduced to one, with however no fewer than 13 races on the card. It follows two days of mixed sales, the BBAG October Sale. The Winterkönigin looks wide open, but Andreas Suborics can follow up his Winterfavorit vicory, as he has three runners here, all of whom have a chance. Peaches (Lord of England) won in good style last time, and is possibly the best of them, but the early betting suggests that Noble Heidi (Intello), for the powerful team Henk Grewe/ Andrasch Starke team, could dispute favouritism here with Baden-Baden winner Reine d´Amour (Soldier Hollow), while your correspondent also likes the look of Amazing Grace (Protectionist).

Although the Winterkönigin is the best race on the card, it is not the most valuable, as the Ferdinand Leisten Memorial over 1400 metres, has prize-money of 200,000 euros (100k to the winner), making it by far the richest 2yo race of the German season. Not surprisingly it has attracted a huge field of 16 runners and also looks wide open. Early favourites are Der Prince (Waldpark) and Principe (Free Eagle), but past experience has shown that almost anything is possible here.

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