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The English page - Classic contenders

Mylady, winning the G3 Busch-Memorial, Schwarzer Peter second. www.galoppfoto.de - Stephanie Gruttmann


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 716 vom Freitag, 29.04.2022

The German classics come much later in the year than in the other major European countries. This weekend we have the first two English classics, the 2,000 Guineas on Saturday and the 1,000 on Sunday, both at Newmarket, while the two Italian equivalent races are both run on Sunday at Rome (with German participation). We have the French Guineas races two weeks later at Longchamp and the following weekend the two Irish races at the Curragh, when also the first German classic, the Mehl-Mülhens-Rennen (German 2,000 Guineas) is run at Cologne (May 22nd, the same day as the Italian Derby!). The German 1,000 Guineas will not be run until June 12th, relatively late in the season. In the old days this race used to be run much earlier, before the 2,000 Guineas usually, but this has how been put back for several weeks in line with the German Oaks (Preis der Diana) on August 7th. The German Derby itself is traditionally run on the first Sunday inJuly, this year on the 3rd, and comes a week after the Irish Derby, which some years is staged on the same weekend.

There are various reasons for this, one being that German-bred are slower to come to hand than their contemporaries in the U.K., France or Italy. German breeders on the whole are focused on the Derby and have little interest in producing precocious performers who can win juvenile races at Royal Ascot for example. This both a strength and a weakness; it explains why there are so few top German milers – there is no German Group One race over a mile – but plenty of top class mile and a half performers, such as last year´s Arc winner Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug), and stayers; many of them also improve markedly with age, which also accounts for the large number of successful N.H.performers who are either German-bred or by German-bred sires (usually by Monsun).

We saw another example of this on Wednesday when Princess Zoe (Jukebox Jury) won the Group Three Sagaro Stakes at Ascot in a very tight finish. Princess Zoe, a 7yo mare bred by Gestüt Höny-Hof, was only a modest handicapper when trained in Germany at 3 and 4, but has shown huge improvement since being sold to Ireland. She won France´s top staying race, the Prix du Cardan, as a 5yo and last year at 6 was runner-up in the Ascot Gold Cup, likely to be her main target again this year. She is by Jukebox Jury (Montjeu), who stood for many years at Gestüt Etzean before also being sold to Ireland, where he now stands at Burgage Stud and is doing well as a dual-purpose sire. Jukebox Jury was also a good stayer, winning the Preis von Europa as a 3yo and as a 5yo the Irish St. Leger, and Princess Zoe has presumably inherited stamina from him, as she a member of the successful “Pepper” family, most of whom were milers.

However we shall now take a look at the current crop of German 3yo´s, although it is clear that many of them will not reach peak form until much later in the season, or possibly like Princess Zoe not for another couple of years. Last Sunday we had the first German pattern races of the season for the classic crop, the Dr. Busch-Memorial over the extended mile at Krefeld. This has often been the most reliable trial for the German 2,000 Guineas, but that race has frequently been won by foreign raiders, usually from the U.K., as these runners are often much more forward than their German counterparts. However the winner of the Dr. Busch is almost always a very smart performer; last year´s winner Best of Lips won the Group Two Union-Rennen in good style next time out, before an injury put paid to his Derby chances.

The race was dominated by trainer Markus Klug, who has made an excellent start to the season; he saddles three runners there and they finished first, second and fourth. Punters were on the ball here as they made his filly, Gestüt Karlshof´s homebred filly Mylady (The Grey Gatsby) favourite. She was also the choice of stable jockey Andrasch Starke, who held her up and then brought her with a swooping run on the outside to lead one and a half out; her stable companion Schwarzer Peter (Neatico) finished fast on the inside but although Mylady´s winning margin at the line was only a neck, she was always holding him. Mylady had won both her starts last year and is undeniably a very promising filly. She was the first of her sex to win this trace for 48 years and was also a first group race winner for her sire.

The principals are all expected to meet again in the Mehl-Mülhens-Rennen (2,000 Guineas) in three weeks´ time – including the filly, and if she wins that one as well, she will be the first filly to triumph in that race since 1971. No filly has ever brought off the double, Dr. Busch and Mehl-Mülhens, so she could be making history. Her connections are certainly brave and she could run against the colts several times this year, including in the German Derby itself. Trainer Klug was certainly impressed, as she had had a troublesome preparation and can be expected to show further improvement.

There is plenty of interesting racing this weekend, with a good 3yo event at Mülheim on Saturday, two listed races for fillies and mares on Sunday at Hanover (with Irish and French raiders), and most important of all Munich´s Bavarian Classic over 2000metres on Sunday. This race has always been one of the best trials for the German Derby and certainly the best at this early stage of the season. Your correspondent can remember seeing Athenagoras winning this in 1973, and he went on to win the Deutsches Derby and several more have brought off this double since, including two in the past decade, Isfahan (Lord of England) and Lucky Speed (Silvano), both now sires.

The Munich race looks very strong and also very competitive, especially as the ante-post Derby favourite Tünnes, a half-brother by Giuliani to Torquator Tasso, has to miss the race after a mild infection earlier in the week. Markus Klug, going great guns at present, trains no fewer than four of the nine declared runners; Andrasch Starke has chosen the Schlenderhan-bred So Moonstruck (Sea The Moon) and has probably again made the right decision. However Peter Schiergen, with Park Wiedingen´s Sammarco (Camelot) and Andreas Wöhler with Jaber Abdullah´s Maraseem (Nathaniel) also have highly interesting competitors in the field and we shall almost certainly see a shake-up in the Derby market after this race has been run. Between them, Klug, Schiergen and Wöhler have won most recent editions of the German Derby and we shall know next week whether this is likely ro continue.

David Conolly-Smith



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