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The English page - Classic hopes

Zavaro (l.), winning the first group race in Germany 2021. www.galoppfoto.de - Stephanie Gruttmann


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 664 vom Freitag, 16.04.2021

Although all the German black type races so far this year have been for 4yo´s and older horses, it has been the 3yo crop that has been of most interest with the classic races now not too far off. And as a result of the races we have seen this month there has been quite a shake-up in the ante-post betting on the German Derby, due to be run at Hamburg on July 4th. Throughout the winter, Mythico (Adlerflug), trained by Jean-Pierre Carvalho, was Derby favourite after his convincing win in the Herzog von Ratibor-Rennen last November, but he ran very disappointingly last Sunday in Longchamp and has been pushed out to 19-1 by Racebets (whose process I am quoting here).

Of course it is more than possible that the “usual suspects” of Henk Grewe and Peter Schiergen in Cologne, Markus Klug at Röttgen on the outskirts of the city, and Andreas Wöhler at Ravensberg will dominate the Derby, as they have done so far this century. Grewe is the current champion trainer but has not yet won the race, though he has gone close, but the other three have a total of 12 wins to their credit. All four have strong teams this year, to which can be added two more Cologne trainers, Andreas Suborics and Waldemar Hickst. However Carvalho, usually known as “Chippy” and based in Mülheim, could well have the strongest claims, despite Mythic's flop, for which there is as yet no explanation.

He has three 3y's in his stable, all owned and bred by Manfred Hellwig's Gestüt Höny-Hof and all from the immediate family of German Derby winners SamumSchiaparelli and Sea The Moon, who all look well above average. Two are already winners this season: Sassoon (Soldier Hollow).won over a mile at Cologne on Easter Monday. He only scored in a photo-finish and was receiving weight from the two placed horses, so one should not overrate the form, but it was nevertheless a very promising performance over an unsuitable distance. He is actually quite low down Carvalho´s pecking order and the trainer was surprised by this victory. He described Sassoon as “a horse for the second half of the season” but it seems that he way have underestimated him. Sassoon is not in the Derby and has no fancy entries, so it will interesting to see how he is campaigned and he looks certain to improve a lot for this run, especially when stepped up in trip.

The two Carvalho colts prominent in the Derby betting are Sun of Gold (Golden Horn) an easy winner at Mülheim last Saturday and now clear favourite for Hamburg at 9-1. He certainly scored in good style, but another 3yo can also be taken out of that race, Andreas Wöhler´s Manganelli (Tertullian), who actually started favourite at 11/10, despite making his racecourse debut. He finished a close fourth after running on very nicely in the final furlong and looks a certain future winner. Sun of Gold is likely to run next in the listed Prix de l´Avre at Longchamp on May 2nd.

Carvalho´s other big hope is Sea of Sands (Sea The Stars), who had three starts last year, winning a good Baden-Baden maiden on his second start and then running up in the prestigious Preis des Winterfavoriten. He is likely to make his 2021 in the Bavarian Classic at Munich on May 1st, known to oldtimers like myself as the Hertie-Preis and frequently an excellent trial for the Derby. Carvalho told me that Sun of Gold is his personal favourite, but that “all my staff prefer Sea of Sands.” The latter is quoted at 19-1 for Hamburg.

The big race last weekend was the Group Three Kalkmann Frühjahrs-Meile at Düsseldorf, the first German pattern race of this season.

This was by no meamns the best group race ever run, and only five eventually lined up, including French raider Padron (Gris de Gris), an easy listed winner at Saint-Cloud on his previous start and who started favourite at 11/10. However the four German-trained runners, all by the veteran stallion Areion, handled the horrible conditions better and he eventually finished rhird after being held up in last place for most of the way. Henk Grewe was the trainer to profit here, as his two runners Zavaro and Schwesterherz finished first and second. The latter was ridden by stable jockey Andrasch Starke and Grewe commented that he had been working much the better of the pair, but there was no arguing with Zavaro´s performance in the race itself. Always prominent he led early in the straight and could be called the winner a long way out. Zavaro, a 14,000 euros BBAG yearling, looks a bargain now. He was fourth last year in the German 2,000 Guineas and also twice group-placed, but this was by far his best performance yet. According to Grewe, his two runners will clash swords again in the Group Two Badener Meile in late May. Zavaro was clearly the best horse on the day, but whether he can beat the filly again in seven weeks` time on different ground and in different weather remains to be seen. The going at Düsseldorf was officially soft, but after a lot of rain was very testing by the time this race was run. The time of the race was extremely slow.

The going at Cologne this coming Sunday will almost certainly be much better. This is the only fixture this weekend in Germany and the main event is the Carl-Jaspers-Preis (previously known as the Gerling-Preis), a Group Two race for 4yo's and up over2400 metres. Once again there will be a small field, with only six expected to run, inckuding two each from trainers Peter Schiergen and Markus Klug; jockey bookings suggest that Nerium (Camelot) and Kaspar (Pivotal) respectively are their stable´s best hope. However the one to beat is surely Henk Grewe's 4yo filly Sunny Queen (Camelot) who finished last season with an excellent victory in the Group One Grosser Preis von Bayern, definitely the best form in the field (leaving out the German Derby win of Klug´s 7yo Windstoss (Shirocco) in 2017, as he has not managed to reproduce that form since). There are also three races for 3yo´s on the card and almost certain to be more classic prospects running; we shall look back at these races next week and try to identify them. 

David Conolly-Smith


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