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The English Page - Classic races and classic trials

The new star in Germany: Alter Adler. www.galoppfoto.de - JJ Clark


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 721 vom Freitag, 03.06.2022

We have just had an eventful weekend and this coming weekend promises to be even more eventful. We can now look back on Baden-Baden's Spring Meeting and it must be said that the whole meeting can be regarded as a success. They were lucky with the weather, which except for a brief period of light rain on the Sunday morning, was perfect throughout, an essential ingredient for outdoor events. Crowds were good, some 30,000 over the three days, and the mood very positive. Betting turnover at 1.9 million euros was excellent by German standards – though still peanuts compared to many other racing countries, and well above expectations.

The ground was very fast, and front-runners did really well. However it was not a good meeting for favourite backers, and although there were no total shock results, hardly any of the first choices in the betting obliged. This was the case in ther two Group Two races, the Badener Meile on Thursday, when Gestüt Brümmerhof's filly Novemba (Gleneagles) could only finish fifth of six, and again on Sunday in the Grosser Preis der Badischen Wirtschaft, when Arc winner Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug) finished sixth of seven. In both cases the fact that they were coming off a long break and having their first race of the season was offered as an excuse, and this has certainly been experienced many times this year already, but it was still a disappointment.

The Badener Meile was won by the 4yo Best Lightning (Sidestep), a homebred of Austrian owner Hermann Pfister. He had been narrowly beaten in last year´s German 2,000 Guineas but turned the form around here. He was ridden by Martin Seidl, for whom it was a first Group Two winner and who had been in hospital the previous day having his broken nose fixed. Trainer Andreas Suborics had been very confident before the race and will now send his charge abroad for another group race, probably in France. Despite this defeat, Novemba is still expected to run next week in Royal Ascot, where she will be accompanied by stable companion Rocchigiani, who goes for the Jersey Stakes.

All the talk before Sunday´s Grosser Preis was about the 2021 Arc winner Torquator Tasso and he duly started favourite at 8-5. However there were several factors which counted against him: the fast going, the distance of 2200 metres when he clearly has plenty of stamina and needs further, the fact that he was conceding weight all round and the long break since the Arc early last October. These were all valid, but even so his performance must be rated as a big disappointment; he was “never going” according to jockey Rene Piechulek and was beaten a long way out, eventually finishing 18 lengths behind winner, Stall Nizza's homebred Alter Adler (Adlerflug), who was held up in last place for most of the way, but ran on strongly in the straight to win comfortably enough by 1 3/4 lengths from Virginia Storm (Soldier Hollow), who had led for much of the way in Auenquelle's second colours. The pace did not look unusually fast, but the time was excellent, the fastest winning time this century by quite a margin for this event. The winner, so often a bridesmaid but until now never a bride, certainly deserved this win, his first at group race level, although he has already been runner-up in several top races, including in last year's German Derby (rather unluckily) and also in good company in Deauville, Longchamp and Rome. He had already run twice in 2022, clearly an advantage, however he is obviously very useful and his rating has been raised to German GAG 97 (=international 114). Trainer Waldemar Hickst indicated that he will now go for the top 12 furlongs races such as the Grosser Preis von Baden, the Preis von Baden and then possibly the Arc.

The other significant race at Baden-Baden on Sunday was the listed Silberne Peitsche over 1200 metres on Sunday, which went to the Swedish-bred and -trained Good Eye (Eishin Dunkirk), who paid almost 14-1. He disputed the lead from an early stage, went on over a furlong out and in the end scored easily enough in an excellent time from the favourite, Andreas Wöhler's Waldersee (Olympic Glory). Trainer Jessica Long said that the winner (“he must have it left-handed”) would probably come back for the Goldene Peitsche here, for which he is now automatically qualified.

Wöhler´s other runner here was fourth, but the trainer still had an excellent meeting. He had saddled the winner of Saturday's main event, the Group Three Derby Trial over 2000 metres, Gestüt Paschberg's homebred Queroyal (Churchill). He showed a good turn of foot here to win by a length and was staying on well at the finish. He will probably now go straight to the Derby at Hamburg  in a month's time, but Andreas Wöhler holds a strong hand in that event, and his two arguably two best hopes run this coming Monday (Whit Monday) in Cologne's Union-Rennen, often the best trial for the German Derby. They are Jaber Abdullah's Maraseem (Nathaniel) and Gestüt Ittlingen's Alessio  (Teofilo).  Although only seven runners have been declared, this race should be very informative, and any horse that wins easily will almost certainly start favourite at Hamburg. The current Derby favourite is Ardakan (Reliable Man), winner of the Italian Derby, who now goes to Hamburg without another run, but Gestüt Schlenderhan's So Moonstruck (Sea The Moon), also trained by Markus Klug, looks likely to start favourite on Monday.

There is another important classic trial this weekend, the Group Two Diana Trial on Sunday at Hoppegarten. Only five were declared yesterday for this race, but word got around and there were four supplementary entries, giving the race an entirely new complexion. The race now looks very open, and as the 163. Henkel-Preis der Diana itself is not until August, the result may not be quite as significant as that in Cologne. This weekend is of course the biggest classic weekend of them all, with the Derby at Epsom on Saturday, and the French equivalent, the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly on Sunday. So by this time next week we shall know much more about the classic generation in England and France, as well as Germany.

David Conolly-Smith


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