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The English page - Derbywinner Sammarco in Munich

The much improved India (Andrasch Starke). www.galoppfoto.de - Sabine Brose

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David Conolly-Smith

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Ausgabe 729 vom Freitag, 29.07.2022

An extremely interesting weekend is behind us, and obviously events at Ascot were the highlights, and not only from the German point of view. The King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is always one of the hottest races of the year, and last Saturday's edition, even with only six runners, was no different. It was generally believed that the two 3yo's on the field, both of whom had top classic form to their credit, would dominate the finish, but this was not to be – in the event, they both finished well beaten and occupied the last two places. It was certainly a strange race, with the two longest outsiders, according to the betting, taking the first two places. Pyledriver (Harbour Watch) was in the end an easy winner at 18-1 for a small owner and trainer team – very welcome these days when the big battalions of Coolmore and Godolphin so frequently take the lion´s share of the prize-money, while the German  contestant Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug) was an excellent runner up. The Marcel Weiß runner took a walk in the betting and ended up at 16-1, and was in our view ridiculously overpriced. He had after all beaten a much stronger field last October in the Arc, but it seemed that the change in the going – heavy at Longchamp, good to firm at Ascot – put people of backing him, as well as the statements from connections he was not yet at 100%  as the Arc in October remained his main target.

Whatever, this was an extremely strong performance by Torquator Tasso, and a well-judged ride by Rene Piechulek, who was happy to bide his time while Irish Derby winne. Westover, accompanied by Hardwicke Stakes winner Broome, set a suicidal pace up front (according to the Racing Post's Paul Kealy). The well-fancied Mishriff missed the break, as has happened on occasion before, and made up ground too quickly. This all played into the hands of Pyledriver and Torquator Tasso, two genuine Group One performers over 2400 metres, who stayed on best of all, with the former finally scoring by 2 ¾ lengths, with Mishriff 8 lengths back in third. This was no fluke result and it will certainly interesting to see how Torquator Tasso runs when connections finally feel that he is 100%  right. He is now third favourite for the Arc and must have a good chance if all goes to plan, especially if the ground rides soft. Pyledriver on the other hand is a summer horse and at his best on fast going; we would certainly expect the German horse to beat him next time they meet.

The other German runner at Ascot also ran well, with the Brümmerhof homebred filly Novemba (Gleneagles) finishing third in the Group Three Valiant Stakes over a mile. Trainer Peter Schiergen  has not yet decided where to go with her next, but she seems certain to win more good races.

There was also an interesting Group Three in Germany last weekend, the Fürstenberg-Rennen over 2400 metres at Hoppegarten. There was an interesting parallel to the King George here, as once again there were two 3yo's in the field and once again they occupied the last two places. Maybe one should not make too much fo this, as they were certainly gfar from the standard of ther two runners at Ascot, but even so  we are still hoping for signs that the current classic crop, in whatever country, is up to par.

There was in any case one extremely positive feature of the Berlin race, the winner the Ittlingen homebred India (Adlerflug) is arguably the most improved horse in Germany and looks almost certain to be able to hold her own in even better company. Afrer waiting nearer the back for the first mile, she showed terrific speed in the straight  and in the end outclassed this opposition to win as she pleased by six lengths. She did not appear to be anything out of the ordinary last year, when her best form was her third place in a trial for the Preis der Diana (German Oaks) but she was only tenth in the big race itself and did not run again in 2021. However her form this year has been truly spectacular; she has won all her 4 starts in 2022, all in the space of 12 weeks and each time showing improved form. Her rating has gone up from 85 ½ to 96 GAG (=international 112) and she now looks capable of even better. Trainer Waldemar Hickst now has several options and she certainly looks up to Group One class.

This weekend we have racing at Cologne on Saturday and Munich on Sunday, and the outstanding event is clearly the Group One Grosser Dallmayr-Preis at the latter track. Another small field, seven this time, and once again two 3yo's taking on their elders. This time the 3yo´s look strong and they both ran in the German Derby three weeks ago. Sammarco (Camelot), a Gestüt Park Wiedingen homebred, indeed won that race in one of the closest finishes in years. As Sammarco won the Group Two Union-Rennen as well, also in a very tight finish, he can certainly claim to be the current king of his crop. However there is little in it, and the second 3yo runner at Munich, Gestüt Paschberg's Queroyal (Churchill) could possible reverse the form, even though he was only ninth at Hamburg. But he was only beaten just over two lengths and he should be better suited by the shorter trip now. Sammarco  is the only Group One winner in the field and also has the highest rating, so he seems to be the logical winner. However in the narrow margins of his two victories, and especially in view of last week´s results, one has to be slightly skeptical. However Sammarco, a small horse with a big heart, has shown by his two very game victories that he should not be underestimated. As this race comes only three weeks after the Derby, Hamburg winners rarely run here but we remember Pastorius (Soldier Hollow), who brought off the double in good style in 2012.

Of the older horses, a case can be made for Best of Lips (The Gurkha) and Rubaiyat (Areion) if back to their best form; indeed Best of Lips would have been favourite for last year´s German Derby after winning the Union-Rennen had not a setback prevented him from running.

But the two most obvious dangers to the 3yo´s are the two raiders from France, both 5yo's. Dawn Intello (Intello) has good form in Group Two races, including last time out when runner-up in the Gran Premio di Milano. His only start so far in a Group One saw him finish last, but – to be honest - the Munich race is far from being the best Group One every staged, and he has to have a chance. He is trained in Chantilly by Andreas Schütz who of course used to train in Germany and actually won this race in 1998 with Elle Danzig. Dawn Intello will be his first runner in his native country since 2005. Gerald Mossé, who partners him, won the 2021 edition of the Dallmayr race on another French-trained runner Skalletti.

But we find the second French runner, the Aga Khan's homebred mare Ebaiyra (Distorted Humor) much more interesting. The mare´s efforts in Group One company read much better, including a second place in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud and sixth of eleven in the Prix d Diane; She has won two Group Two races in France, the Prix de Pomone at three and the Prix Corrida at four. She has kept in training at five, presumably in the hope that she could manage to score at Group One level  and this race looks to be an ideal opportunity. The Aga Khan won this race back in 1991 and the owner himself was present that day. That is unlikely to be the case this time but the mare can certainly score here to add to his already highly successful season.

David Conolly-Smith

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