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The English page - British victory at Munich?

Germanys best stayer Aff un zo with Maxim Pecheur. www.galoppfoto.de


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 693 vom Freitag, 05.11.2021

Last Sunday´s Group Three Silbernes Pferd at Hoppegarten ended with the expected result, indeed one could almost say that it confirmed the reliability of German form this season. The key race for this 3000 metres test was obviously the German St. Leger, run over a furlong shorter at Dortmund six weeks earlier, in which Aff un zo (Kallisto) had won easily enough from Loft (Adlerflug); this time Loft was one kilo better off and plenty of punters expected him to reverse the form, sending him off at 2.7-1, while Aff un Zo started at a generous 3-1. But in the event Aff un Zo won again, even more easily this time, coming with a strong run to lead inside the final furlong and quickly assert, scoring by 2½ lengths, with Loft running another solid race in second after taking the lead early in the straight. However he had no answer to Aff un zo´s finishing burst and the latter was very clearly the best horse in the race. He has now won four races this season and was also a decent fifth in the German Derby and looks likely to improve further next season when he should be a definite asset in the major staying races.

The 3yo filly Samoa (Jukebox Jury) ran on well from the rear, just pipping Loveisthehigherlaw (Kodiac), who had made most of the running, for third place. The pleasing feature of the race was the fact that three 3yo´s took the first three places, reinforcing the impression that it is a good crop, and we may get some confirmation of this on Sunday morning (European time) when German Derby winner Sisfahan (Isfahan) runs in the Breeders´ Cup Turf.

About 13 hours after that race in Del Mar we have another Group One over the same distance, but in a rather different time zone and in very different weather  - the Allianz Grosser Preis von Bayern in Munich, the last European Group One of the year. This race, after several changes, goes back to the old Aral-Pokal at the now defunct Gelsenkirchen-Horst racecourse, and it has frequently been one of the best races of the year, with strong international participation and often the best German horses as well. Unfortunately this is not the case this year, the race has cut up badly. There is still a strong challenge, but only three German-trained horses are running, and with all due respect, none of them are out of the top drawer. There are six runners and it is more than possible that the foreigners will take the first three places.

The one to beat is clearly Sir Mark Prescott´s 4yo filly Alpinista (Frankel), who will probably start a very short-priced favourite. She has already run twice in Germany this year, in the Grosser Preis von Berlin and the Preis von Europa, both Group One races over the same distance of 2400 metres, and winning both of them pretty comfortably. A repetition of either of those performances would probably suffice here. In particular the form of the Hoppegarten race now reads very well. On that occasion she defeated subsequent Arc winner Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug) as well as subsequent Canadian International winner Walton Street, with Nerium (Camelot) fourth. Nerium, who often makes the running, was again behind her in Cologne, finishing second but running well enough, with this year´s German Derby winner Sisfahan (Isfahan) staying on well for third. Both Walton Street and Sisfahan run in the Breeders´ Cup Turf, so could possibly give the form as timely boost on Sunday.

Another Newmarket-trained 4yo filly looks Alpinista´s main rival. This is Roger varian´s Irish-bred Believe in Love (Make Believe) She showed much improved form last time out, when a neck runner-up in the Group One Prix du Royallieu. The Munich race is a furlong shorter, but that is no problem, in fact it could be an advantage as Munich is a stiff track and you need to stay every yard of the distance. Sixth in that race was another 4yo filly Control Tower (Youmzain), who then won a Saint-Cloud Group Three very easily and has been supplemented for the Munich race by trainer Nicolas Clement. She is the third raider and arguably the third best, but should still not be underestimated. The two Newmarket fillies are sharing a horsebox for the long journey from Suffolk to Bavaria and it could well be that they will be taking the lion´s share of the prize-money back with them.

Of the three German hopes, Nerium has a least proved that he belongs in this grade, but has been twice well held by Alpinista. The two other runners are both 3yo´s, the locally-trained colt Mendocino (Adlerflug) and the same sire´s daughter Walkaway. Mendocino has been aimed at this race all season and is undoubtedly the best horse now trained in Munich. However he still needs to make massive improvement to be able to feature here. Walkaway has had a busy season. She was runner-up to Waldbiene (Intello) in a Baden-Baden Group Two, and then reversed that form when winning a Group Three cozily enough at Hanover a fortnight ago. Earlier she been fourth in the Preis der Diana (German Oaks) and also third in a group race at the Hamburg Derby meeting. She ois clearly a tough and smart filly, but will need to step up on anything she has so far shown to have a chance here; however she is still possibly the best of the local trio.

However there is no getting away from Alpinista here, who on all known form should win her third German Group One here. It will be remembered that her grandam Albanova, also owned and bred by Kirsten Rausing and trained by Sir Mark Prescott, won the same three races in 2004 (although at that time run under different names and at different times of year.) It would be a wonderful achievement for owner, breeder and trainer if Alpinista could emulate that feat, but it certainly looks very likely.

David Conolly-Smith

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