Drucken Redaktion Startseite

The English page - Countdown to German Derby

Derby favourites: Sammarco (l.) beating So Moonstruck in the Union-Rennen. www.galoppfoto.de - Stephanie Gruttmann


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 725 vom Freitag, 01.07.2022

We are halfway through the Hamburg Derby meeting, and the two top races will be run at the end of the week, Saturday´s Group Two Grosser Hansa-Preis and Sunday´s Group One IDEE 153rd Deutsches Derby, both over 2400 metres, but more of them later.

The meeting has got off to a good start, helped by fine weather and betting turnover has been surprisingly good, much better than expected. For the last two years of course the track has been almost deserted for its only meeting of the year because of the covid pandemic, but with most restrictions now lifted, the crowds are back and we can certainly expect a huge crowd on Derby day.

Main event at Hamburg last Sunday was a listed race for fillies and mares over 2200 metres, whoich was won in good style by the odds-on favourite, Dr. Christoph Berglar´s homebred Amazing Grace (Protectionist), trained in Cologne by Waldemar Hickst and ridden with great confidence by Marco Casamento, who kept her towards the rear and then brought her with a long sweeping run on the outside in the straight to lead over a furlong out and score with the greatest of ease by one and a half lengths, but was value for much more. She had about a stone in hand on official ratings and was fully entitled to win like this, but is likely to go next for the Group One Grosser Dallmayr-Preis over ten furlongs, where she will certainly face much stronger opposition.

There had also been a listed race for fillies the previous day at Düsseldorf, a trial for the >reis der Diana, to be run here in August. Amazing Grace´s young full-sister Ad Astra was favourite here, but ran disappointingly, finishing seventh. The whole result was in fact a disappointment from the German point of view, as there were three runners here trained in France, none seemingly out of the top drawer, and they finished first, third and fifth. The winner was Peshmerga (Counterattack), who made all the running and held on well to win by three parts of a length from Gestüt Brümmerhof´s homebred Narmada (Adlerflug), who finished well. Peshmerga is not entered in the Preis der Diana and will not be supplemented, and will probably run in Deauville next, according to trainer Anne-Sophie Crombez; Narmada is also not in the Diana, but could apparently be supplemented.

That classic is still five weeks away, the Derby however now less than three days at the time of writing. It will be a full field of 20 runners, a relative rarity in recent years. The race looks wide open and is further complicated by the fact that three trainers are between them responsible for three-quarters of the field. Marks Kkug, with three winners in the past decade, has no fewer than seven runners, all for different owners. With his stable jockey Andrasch Starke, the most successful jockey in the race since the war, suspended his owners have been busy finding the right partners for their runners, and in this respect Gestüt Schlenderhan, whose runner So Moonstruck is by Klug´s first winner Sea The Moon, have hit the jackpot by booking Frankie Dettori, who won the German Derby way back in 1991 on outsider Temporal; So Moonstruck will however probably start favourite with the Frankie factor added to his narrow defeat in the main trial, the Union-Rennen. He went down that time by a head to Sammarco (Camelot), one of two runners saddled by Peter Schiergen, who has an excellent record here. Obviously there is little between the pair, but we have a slight preference for Frankie´s mount, who is well drawn in 10, while Sammarco, who will be partnered by German champion jockey Bauryrzhan Murzabayev, has the number two draw, which is certainly riskier. In such a large field, luck in running will clearly play a major role and in general a draw in the middle is probably the most favourable.

The 20 runners are listed on the racecard in handicap order, so that in theory the number one should win. In practice this happens only rarely, only twice this century in fact, while number two has done much better. Sammarco and So Moonstruck, having dominated the finish to the Union-Rennen, are numbers one and two respectively, but of course the race still looks extremely tricky. Markus Klug has six runners in the top eight by official ratings, including two fillies: Wagnis (Adlerflug) won the Oaks Trial in Hoppegarten in excellent style, while Mylady (The Grey Gatsby) beat the colts in the Dr. Busch-Memorial early in the season, but is untested beyond nine furlongs. Fillies have won twice since the war, but no lady jockey has ever ridden the winner; Wagnis can score on both counts, as she will be partnered by Hollie Doyle, currently on the crest of a wave, but Wagnis is drawn 20, right on the outside and a definite disadvantage. The other lady jockey riding is Sibylle Vogt, Germany´s most successful female rider, who finished third last year. Vogt partners the progressive Nerik (Ruler of the World), who has won his last two races very easily; he is theoretically Peter Schiergen´s second string, but it is an open secret that Murzabayev agonized for quite a long time before plumping for Sammarco.

Klug can also fancy his chances with Ardakan (Reliable Man) who won the Italian Derby a month ago. On the whole however Italian form must be rated inferior to German form – three German-trained fillies finished 1-2-3 in the Italian Oaks recently- and we do not believe that he can double up here. He is one of three runners owned by Darius Racing, who have won the German Derby three times, and they also have Pirouz (Counterattack), trained by Waldemar Hickst, and Bukhara (Isfahan), trained by Andreas Wöhler. The latter will be ridden by Dario Vargiu, who was aboard Isfahan, when he won the German Derby for Darius Racing in 2016 on Bukhara´s sire Isfahan.

Wöhler and Henk Grewe are the two trainers with four runners in the race. Grewe won the race last year, but Wöhler´s record is better and he seems to have the stronger hand here. We especially like Alessio (Teofilo), who stayed on well when third in the Union-Rennen, and will be equipped for the first time with cheek pieces, “to help him focus better.” Alessio is owned by Gestüt Ittlingen, who also have Lavello (Zarak) in the race, winner of the Bavarian Classic earlier in the season; another Klug runner, he also has an obvious chance of he can repeat that form.

Grewe´s best chance would appear to be Assistent (Sea The Moon), who finished very fast to win Hanover´s last ditch Derby trial a fortnight ago, a race that has often produced the Derby winner. We have so far only mentioned ten of the 20 runners, and plenty of the remaining ten also have chances of some sort. It is an extremely open race, and the winners and placed horses from all the trials will be taking part (most of them run over a shorter distance and apparently only three of the 20 Derby runners have ever raced over the full Derby trip) but we will stick our neck out and nominate So Moonstruck, Nerik and Alessio as our three against the field.

The German Derby is the most valuable race of the season, but we would not like to ignore completely the rest of the Hamburg card. Sunday includes two group races for fillies, but of more interest is Saturday´s Group Two Grosser Hansa-Preis over the Derby trip. There are only six runners, but they include Germany´s best 4yo Alter Adler and the best older horse Torquator Tasso, both by the late lamented Adlerflug, himself an easy winner of the German Derby on very soft ground in 2007. The two “eagles” should have this race between them; they met in a similar race at Baden-Baden a month ago, which Alter Adler won in good style, with Torquator Tasso a very disappointing sixth. That run was too bad to be true, and it seems that the Arc winner needs his first race of the season and subsequently improves strongly; that was certainly the case last year and we hope to see him come back to near his best form and win convincingly on Saturday- a race which he won very easily last year, also on his second start of the season. 

David Conolly-Smith

Verwandte Artikel: