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The English page - Classic crop: flops Older horses: tops

Champion trainer Markus Klug (left), Champion 2yr old Erasmus and Adrie de Vries www.galoppfoto.de - Sandra Scherning


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 498 vom Donnerstag, 14.12.2017

In the past seven years, German-bred and –trained horses have won the Arc, the King George (twice), the Ganay, the Melbourne Cup and other major events all over the world. Going back a bit further we have winners of the Eclipse, the Coronation Cup, the Prix de l´Opera, the Cadran, the Japan Cup and more. This year was by comparison very meagre indeed. The two biggest wins abroad were in Turkey, where Wonnemond (Areion), trained by Düsseldorf by Sascha Smrczek, won the Topkapi Trophy, and in New York, where the Belmont Gold Cup was won by Red Cardinal (Montjeu), trained by Andreas Wöhler but Irish-bred and Australian-owned.

It was hoped that Red Cardinal, who also won Germany´s top staying race, could emulate Protectionist (Monsun) who won the Melbourne Cup for the same connections in 2014, but his draw in the carpark effectively put an end to his chances and he has stayed in Australia to be trained there. Wonnemond only ran once after his Istanbul victory, finishing last in a French Group Two.

At least these two older horses won good races, but the classic crop in general proved very disappointing. Gestüt Röttgen´s homebred Windstoss, whose sire Shirocco (Monsun) now covers mainly N.H. mares in Ireland, was the best of his generation: he won the Deutsches Derby and followed up in September by also winning the Preis von Europa, admittedly against a – with all due respect - very weak field. Windstoss looks the type to improve further at four, which gives us some hope, but his limitations were exposed when only fourth in the Grosser Preis von Baden, just behind stable companion and Union Rennen-winner Colomano (Cacique), another possible improver in 2018.

The Mehl-Mülhens-Rennen (2,000 Guineas) was won by Jaber Abdullah´s Irish-bred Poetic Dream (Poet´s Voice), well beaten on his two subsequent starts and now sold to Australia, while the 1,000 Guineas went to Newmarket-trained Unforgetable Filly (Sepoy), who then finished last on her two other starts this year. The best German three-year-old filly was probably Ina Emma Zimmermann´s homebred Lacazar (Adlerflug), who won the Preis der Diana (Oaks), but on her only other start she finished well behind Düsseldorf third, Godolphin´s Wuheida (Dubawi) In the Prix de l´Opera. All of this suggests that the three-year-old crop was well below par.

The season was saved by the older horses, who were certainly well up to scratch. The two best milers were the above-mentioned Wonnemond and the lightly-raced seven-year-old Pas de deux (Saddex), but the real stars were a trio of mile and a half specialists, who were all tough, consistent and genuine Group One performers: the four-year-old Dschingis Secret (Soldier Hollow) and the five-year-olds Guignol (Cape Cross) and Iquitos (Adlerflug). With the exception of the Preis von Europa, in which none of them ran, they won between them all the top middle distances of 2017. There was very little between them and they met several times. Guignol defeated Iquitos twice at Baden-Baden, while Dschingis Secret beat them both at Hamburg. Iquitos won the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis at Munich in July, and it was at that track on November 1st that we had the best race of the German season, the Grosser Preis von Bayern, in which Guignol made all and just held on to score by two necks from Iquitos and Dschingis Secret.  However all three were a few pounds below the real international elite: Dschingis Secret and Iquitos finished sixth and seventh in the Arc, and Guignol and Iquitos ninth and fifteenth respectively in the Japan Cup. It is possible that all three may stay in training, and if Windstoss and Colomano make the expected improvement, we should see some stirring battles in 2018.

2017 champions

The German 2017 champions will be honoured at a ceremony at Dortmund during their Boxing Day fixture, the last raceday of the German season. All the titles have long since been decided – with one exception: that of champion jockey, in which Filip Minarik currently leads Alexander Pietsch by three wins. Pietsch was champion jockey in 2015 and his season´s highlight was probably his winning ride at Ascot in the Shergar Cup. Czech-born Minarik has been champion jockey three times already; his season was notable for his excellent front-running rides on Guignol to win the Group One races at Baden-Baden and Munich. Like Andrasch Starke, Dutchman Adrie de Vries and Panamanian Eduardo Pedroza, Pietsch and Minarik are well into their forties, and German racing could certainly do with some younger star jockeys. It was therefore very pleasing to see 27-year-old Maxim Pecheur ride Windstoss to win the German Derby. He is in fifth place in the jockey statistics, just behind 34-year-old Daniele Porcu, and the saddest news of the season is that the likeable Italian, who rode Wonnemond in Turkey and Iquitos in Munich, is seriously ill.

Markus Klug is champion trainer for the third time in four years, both by number of winners and by prize-money. His tally of about two million euros is quite an achievement, considering the relatively low level of prize money here. He had in his yard in the grounds of Gestüt Röttgen not only the best four-year-old Dschingis Secret and best three-year-old Windstoss, but also the best two-year-old colt and the best two-year-old filly, so has plenty to look forward to in 2018. Peter Schiergen and Andreas Wöhler also won more than a million euros in prize-money, including a classic winner for each of them, and can be satisfied, as can Jean-Pierre Carvalho, whose handling of Guignol deserves great praise. An honourable mention must also be made of newcomer Andreas Suborics; the Austrian-born ex-champion jockey made an excellent start to his training career.

Gestüt Röttgen were leading owners and breeders by a clear margin. Apart from Derby winner Windstoss, they also had the top two year-old-old Erasmus – already favourite for next year´s German Derby- and a host of other black type performers; they also had the added satisfaction of seeing their tenant Markus Klug as the top trainer. They are followed in the breeders´list by Fährhof, Auenquelle, Park Wiedingen and Ullmann, and in the owners´ list by Ullmann (Guignol) and Haus Zoppenbroich (i.e. Ina Emma Zimmermann).

Champion sire – for the fourth time- was Areion (Big Shuffle), who had a remarkable season, headed by Wonnemond´s victory in Turkey and well over a million euros in domestic winnings. Now approaching the veteran stage, he is to move in 2018 to Gestüt Etzean. Adlerflug (In the Wings), who has temporarily moved to Schlenderhan, also had an excellent year, headed by the Group One victories of Iquitos and Lacazar, while Soldier Hollow had another good season, with Dschingis Secret his main earner. Germany´s richest race, the Deutsches Derby, went to Windstoss, which was enough to put his sire Shirocco in fourth place with only a handful of runners. We shall deal in greater depth with the stallion scene next week.

David Conolly-Smith

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