Ausgabe 534 vom Donnerstag, 06.09.2018
Baden-Baden's Grosse Woche has now been and gone and we saw some more exciting finishes last week. However the results make depressing reading for local owners and trainers and it appears that the form of the top German horses is currently well below the level of some recent years. There are no stars like Danedream, Novellist or Protectionist, all winners of top international Group One races, to be found at the moment in German stables. This is partly because of a run of bad luck with injuries to some of the potential stars, partly to the fact that more and more German-breds with smart form are being sold abroad (mainly to Australia or Japan), and partly a natural cycle. The same is true to a certain extent with French and Irish horses this season, with English trainers dominating all over, particularly those based at Newmarket.
This we saw again on Sunday when two Newmarket-trained (but Irish-bred) raiders, Best Solution (Kodiac) and Defoe (Dalakhani) took the first two places in the Longines Grosser Preis von Baden, Germany's most prestigious race. Best Solution had already won the Grosser Preis von Berlin three weeks earlier and Godolphin's trainer Saeed bin Suroor has now won all three of the German weight-for-age Group One races run this season – with his only three runners in this country.
Like so many top races this year, the Grosser Preis was run at a very slow pace which certainly did not suit all the runners; however there is no reason to doubt that the result was correct. Night Music (Sea The Stars), the only filly in the field, made the running, with Defoe on her outside in second and Best Solution always close up on the inside. As they rounded the dogleg two furlongs from the finish Pat Cosgrave immediately sent Best Solution into the lead in the middle of the track, with Defoe switched to the stands rail and course specialist Iquitos (Adlerflug) coming with his usual late challenge on the inside. Iquitos briefly put his head in front, but he had made his effort too early and Best Solution kept on well to hold the late challenge from Defoe, who finished best of all, and probably would have won in another 50 yards. The winning margin was a neck, with Iquitos only half a length away and the rest well back.
Godolphin M.D. Hugh Anderson was present at both Best Solution's German victories and confirmed that that the four-year-old would now go to Australia for the Caulfield Cup and then the Melbourne Cup, Best Solution´s rating has been put up to 118, but this probably still gives him a realistic weight for “the race that stops a nation”. He is the best product so far of the Tally-Ho Stud´s stallion Kodiac, whose fee is now 50,000 euros following the excellent form of his two-year-olds; that he now has a top mile and a half performer who is also improving with age seems surprising, but these qualities come from his bottom line, as his dam is closely related to St. Leger winner Brian Boru and Arc winner Workforce.
Defoe was certainly not disgraced in second; he is still in the Arc and quoted at 40-1 for that race. He missed the summer as trainer Roger Varian was waiting for better going, and he almost pulled him out of the Baden-Baden race. “They told me that it was good to soft,” he said, “but it was rough and loose on top, and firm underneath.” The ground was heavily criticized last week; it has not been an easy year for ground staff, with a cold and late winter followed almost immediately by a long and hot summer, with virtually no rain falling from mid-May to late August.
While the result of the Grosser Preis was no great surprise, the result of the T. von Zastrow Stutenpreis a Group Two race for fillies the previous day was a disaster, even though a German filly ran out the narrow winner. This was Gestüt Karlshof's homebred Sky Full of Stars (Kendargent),who won after a very enterprising ride by French jockey Marc Lerner, who has now left Germany for a six months stint in Singapore. He took the lead at halfway and just held on by a head from the strong late challenge of British raider Star Rock (Fastnet Rock), with the second British runner, Titi Makfi (Makfi) more than three lengths back in third and the Swiss runner Sweet Soul Music (Jukebox Jury) in fourth. They are all four-year-olds and a five-year-old finished fifth. The German three-year-old fillies, who had finished second, third, fourth and fifth in the Preis der Diana, were all well beaten, which obviously casts more doubt on the value of German classic form this year. Honour can still be restored on the Sunday of next week at Longchamp, when Well Timed (Holy Roman Emperor), winner of the Diana, runs in the Prix Vermeille and Royal Youmzain (Youmzain), a close third in the German Derby, goes for the Prix Niel.
Two good results from the German point of view were the victories of Ancient Spirit (Invincible Spirit) in the Oettingen-Rennen over a mile and, especially, of Quest the Moon (Sea The Moon) in the Zukunftsrennen for two-year-olds. Ancient Spirit, a Stall Ullmann homebred and winner of the German 2,000 Guineas in May, showed that he is the best German miler at present with a battling success in a very messy race; he had to survive a stewards´ inquiry as he had hampered French raider Tornibush (Dream Ahead). As that one only finished fourth, he kept the race, but had the latter finished second in a photo, then Ancient Spirit would probably have been disqualified. As it was, his jockey Filip Minarik got off with a six day suspension.
As far as the future is concerned, the victory of Quest the Moon was the most positive feature of the meeting. In a race which has regularly been won by British-trained juveniles who were well below top class, he just got up in the final yards to win by a neck from Mark Johnston's frontrunner I'll Have Another (Dragon Pulse) with the favourite Peace of Paris (Helmet) a neck away in third. On the face of it, this is not great form, as I´ll Have Another was only rated 84 coming into the race. But he must now be rated much higher as Quest the Moon scored like a potential star and has been put up to 104. Jockey Oisin Murphy was most complimentary after the race, saying that Quest the Moon is going to be a top horse next year when racing over a longer distance. A 67,000 euros BBAG purchase, Quest the Moon was bred by Gestüt Görlsdorf and is the best performer – and the first group race winner – by their first season Sea The Moon, the best German Derby winner of recent years. Quest the Moon will race once more this year, in the Preis des Winterfavoriten, but next year's Deutsches Derby is obviously now his long term target; he is owned by Stall Salzburg and trained by 30-year-old Sarah Steinberg at Munich. The pair teamed up to win three races at the meeting and must be one of the very few to have gone home from Baden-Baden really happy.