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The English page - Classic form still looks good

Quian, Germanys best stayer. www.galoppfoto.de


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 643 vom Freitag, 06.11.2020

Last Sunday´s top race was the Group Two Oleander-Rennen at Hoppegarten over two miles, Germany´s top staying race and normally run in May. The race has been sponsored for the past five years by Irish builders and property developers Comer Group International, whose European HQ is in Berlin. Last year their boss Luke Comer won the race himself with Raa Atoll, whom he also trained, and this year he was clearly intent on winning the race again as he saddled no fewer than five runners.

It was pretty clear beforehand that Aircraft Carrier (Declaration of War) was his best chance, and so it proved, as the other four actually finished in the last four places. Andrasch Starke had been booked for the main hope and he was always close up on the inside as the front-runner Kaiserperle (Montmartre) as expected made the running at a decent pace considering the very soft going,with 2017 German Derby winner Windstoss (Shirocco) in second. The favourite Quian (Mastercraftsman) and Irish-bred Rip Van Lips (Rip Van Winkle) were not far of the leading group and the order remained unchanged into the straight, where Kaiserperle soon dropped out,while Windstoss also found little. Quian and Rip Van Lips were making strong headway, while Aircraft Carrier was trapped on the inside and had to be switched twice to get a clear run. By the time he got clear, the birds had flown, and Quian ran on strongly to defeat Rip Van Lips by three parts of a length, with Aircraft Carrier 2 ½ lengths back in third and the field well strung out behind him.

Obviously Aircraft Carrier was slightly unlucky and would undoubtedly finished a lot closer with a clear run, but he would never have beaten Quian, who won with something in hand, and confirmed his status as Germany´s best stayer with this authoritative victory. On his previous start Quian had easily won the German St. Leger, with Rip Van Lips third; the latter got much closer this time, but never seriously looked like winning. It was to a certain extent another confirmation of this year´s German classic form, although the German St. Leger can these days hardly be regarded as a classic as it is open to older horses, and indeed not a single 3yo ran in the 2020 edition.

The 4yo Quian was bred by Gestüt Fährhof and was a 54,000 euros BBAG yearling. He is trained by Peter Schiergen and runs in the colours of Stall Hornoldendorf, the nom de course of a member of the wealthy Oetker family. Schiergen reported afterwards  that he was always highly regarded and was for a while his stable´s main hope for the 2019 German Derby, but that everything had gone wrong with him as a 3yo, finishing last on both of his starts last year after winning both of his starts at two. However he has really blossomed this year, particularly after being campaigned over longer distances, and has now won five of his last six starts. He is out of a Monsun mare who is a half-sister to the multiple Group One winner and champion Quijano (Acatenango). Quian is now rated German GAG 93 (=international  106) and certainly there seems to be no horse in training in Germany who can defeat him over distances around two miles.

The action now switches to Munich, at the other end of the country, where Sunday´s Grosser Preis von Bayern over 2400 metres is the final Group One race of the European season. This race, originally run in Düsseldorf and then Cologne in August, moved to Munich a decade ago and to its present November date in 2014. At the time this move was hotly debated, but in fact the decision to run this race so late in the season proved to be inspired, and it has very year attracted a strong international field.

This time eleven horses have been declared, seven of them trained in Germany – including the two highest-rated horses in the country, the 3yo´s Torquator Tasso and Dicaprio (both sons of Adlerflug), as well as four runners from the U.K. Torquator Tasso, from the stable of first season trainer Marcel Weiss, was a fast-finishing runner-up in the German Derby, with Dicaprio a close sixth, and then only managed to beat this rival by a short head when winning the Grosser Preis von Berlin last month. The German Derby form has worked out extremely well, with the winner In Swoop (another Adlerflug!) an excellent runner-up in the Arc, and the German 3yo´s are clearly very smart; there is little between this pair and it would be no surprise to see Dicaprio come out on top this time. He is one of three runners trained by reigning champion Henk Grewe and definitely the best of the trio. Best of the remaining German runners could be the 3yo filly Tabera (Gleaneagles), a strong front-runner who made all the running to won in good style at Hoppegarten last time. However front-runners rarely win at this track and there is certainly some doubt whether she will stay this distance., as all her races so far have been at 2100 metres or shorter. However her dam Temida (Oratorio) won the Grosser Preis von Bayern back in 2012, in the days when it was still run in August.

A supplementary entry for this race was generally expected, but the one that actually came was a surprise: Indian Soldier (Soldier Hollow), a 4yo colt trained by Marco Klein in Mannheim, who described the owner´s decision as “courageous but crazy.” Indian Soldier is a much improved handicapper who has won five races this season, but is taking a huge lap in class, and on ratings has at least three stone to find to have any chance. With all due respect for the Olympian principle involved, it would still require a miracle to see him placed in this company. In his favour however is the fact that he is a real course specialist, having won all four of his starts at this track.

The four British raiders are of course of a totally different calibre and all have good group race form in their record (though not so much at Group One level). Ralph Beckett, a regular visitor here, runs two Manuela de Vega and Antonia de Vega, both Irish-bred fillies by Lope de Vega, who both ran in this race last year, finishing second fourth respectively. If anything, this year´s field is stronger, and possibly the other two, both rather older, have better chances: Morando (Kendargent), trained by Andrew Balding for Power Racing, and the Godolphin challenger Secret Advisor (Dubawi), trained by Charlie Appleby, who has such an impressive record with his German raiders.

Secret Advisor is very lightly raced for his age; he put up arguably his best performance as a 3yo in 2017 when third to Stradivarius in the Queen´s Vase at Roval Ascot, but he has only raced seven times in the three and a half years since. He has only run once since winning the Group Two Nad Al Sheba Trophy at Meydan in February,  which suggests that he has had problems but on his best form he must have a definite chance and the fact that William Buick is riding is a clear plus point. Morando, even older at seven, was fourth last time in the British Champions Long Distance Cup three weeks ago; that was a Group Two event but the field was strong and that was a decent performance, and he will also appreciate the soft going. All four British runners would have a chance at their best, while the two top German 3yo´s are proven Group One performers. This is a fascinating race, and next week we shall try to analyse the result and see where things went wrong (or right, as the case may be).

David Conolly-Smith

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