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The English page - Champions old and new

The champions: Trainer Peter Schiergen (l.) and Jockey Bauyrzhan Murzabayev a couple of weeks ago in Tokyo. www.galoppfoto.de - Stefano Grasso


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 749 vom Freitag, 16.12.2022

There are only two more race days left in Germany this year, at Mülheim on turf (weather permitting)  on Boxing Day and on New Year´s Eve on Dortmund´s sand track, and from then on Dortmund has a monopoly until the end of March. It is therefore an appropriate time to look back at the events of 2022, a difficult year in view of the continuing covid-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which caused massive problems, not only for the world of racing. However the German racing and breeding industries held up well, with crowds and betting turnover back to near 2019 levels, and it must be said that the level of German form, and in particular the top mile and a half races, has held up really well. Of Germany´s seven Group One races , five were won by German-trained runners, the other two were both won by Godolphin´s Rebel´s Romance, a 4yo Dubawi gelding trained in Newmarket by Charlie Appleby, and he certainly franked the form later with an easy victory in the Breeders´ Cup Turf.

The top German performer of the year was clearly the 5yo Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug) and although he failed to score at Group One level this year, his second place in the King George at Ascot and his third place in the Arc, despite a bad draw, were both proof that he was one of the best European horses of recent years over the classic distance. He has now retired, with earnings of 4.2 million euros to his credit, a German record. The Arc itself went to the 5yo mare Alpinista (Frankel), owned and bred by Ms Kirsten Rausing and trained in Newmarket by Sir Mark Prescott. That in itself paid an indirect compliment to German form, as she had run three times in 2021 in Germany. We have not forgotten the Grosser Preis von Berlin last year, in which Alpinista defeated Torquator Tasso – both to win the Arc afterwards - or last year´s Grosser Preis von Bayern, when she defeated Mendocino, winner of the year´s Grosser Preis von Baden.

It is no coincidence that the best pieces of form seen in Germany were over the distance of 2400 metres, as this is the distance of all our top races. The leading German breeders are not trying to produce top class sprinters or milers, and the results of races at a mile or shorter speak for themselves. The mile classics and the top sprint race, the Goldene Peitsche, went to horses trained in England and France, as is usually the case.

The most exciting race of the year was the Deutsches Derby, with twenty runners, oh whom half still held a chance at the distance, In the end three of them drew clear and they could not be separated by the naked eye at the finish line. The photo showed that Sammarco (Camelot), a Gestüt Park Wiedingen homebred trained by Peter Schiergen, had scored by a short head from Schwarzer Peter (Neatico), a relatively cheap BBAG yearling purchase, with the favourite, Gestüt Schlenderhan´s homebred So Moonstruck (Sea The Moon) a short head away in third. Sammarco won too in Munich´s Group One Grosser Dallmayr-Preis over 2000 metres, and was then a close third to Mendocino and Torquator Tasso, both sons of Adlerflug, in a dramatic race for the Grosser Preis von Baden. Neither Schwarzer Peter nor So Moonstruck ran again in Germany; the former was sold for an amazing million euros at the Arqana Arc sale, while the latter is now in Qatar and due to run shortly in their Derby.

However Germany´s best 3yo did not run in the Hamburg Derby. This was Tünnes (Guiliani), also trained by Peter Schiergen, who had been last year´s top 2yo after his impressive win in the Ratibor-Rennen. A half-brother to Torquator Tassso, he had been bought, apparently by mistake, for 38,000 euros at BBAG, but an injury early this year put him out of the Derby for which he would certainly have been favourite. He made his comeback with an easy win at Baden-Baden in late August followed by an eight lengths romp in the German St. Leger and then an even more impressive victory in the Grosser Preis von Bayern. He was then invited to run in the Japan Cup, but blew his chances with a very slow start, finally finishing ninth of 18, but beaten less than seven lengths by the winner. Mendocino was also invited to run in the Far East, in his case the Hong Kong Vase, but also had problems at the start, rearing up in the stalls and finally taking no part.

It is clear that Peter Schiergen was the leading German trainer of 2022. He not only saddled the most winners, but also – thanks to Sammarco taking the most valuable race, the Deutsches Derby, - the most prize-money as well. He was the only German trainer to win more than one Group One race, and with Sammarco and Tünnes still in training, holds a strong hand for 2023. Markus Klug, who had both the placed horses in the Derby, was runner-up, both in terms of number of winners, with Andreas Wöhler third. Wöhler´s big moment came in the Preis der Diana (Oaks) when his Toskana Belle (Shamalgam) made all to win by a head under Kerrin McEvoy. The filly, owned by Australian Bloodstock, then went on to finish runner-up in the Jockey Club Oaks International at Aqueduct.

This was the seventh time that Schiergen has topped the trainers´ table. Amd his stable jockey Bauyrzhan Murzabayev was champion jockey for the fourth year in succession, finishing well clear of Andrasch Starke, Leon Wolff, Maxim Pecheur and Rene Piechulek. Lilli-Marie Engels, in sixth place, had her best ever season and was the most successful female jockey, although Sibylle Vogt, who missed four months of the season through injury, is still regarded as the top female. She is second jockey to the Schiergen stable, but the number one, the Kazakhstan-born Murzabayev is still clrearly the outstanding jockey at present based in Germany.

With the Deutsches Derby being the most valuable race, it is logical that Helmut von Finck´s Gestüt Park Wiedingen is top of both the owners´ and breeders´ table. He is followed by Gestüt Röttgen  and Gestüt Ittlingen. These refer only to races run in Germany, otherwise Gestüt Auenquelle, thanks to Torquator Tasso´s lucrative places at Ascot and Longchamp, would clearly come out on top. Dutchman Paul H. Vandenberg is only a tiny breeder compared to those just mentioned, but as the breeder of Torquator Tasso and Tünnes deserves special credit. These two contributed greatly to what must be regarded as a successful year on the whole for German breeding.

This is the last English Page of 2022. We wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

David Conolly-Smith

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