The English page - Direction Belmont Park
Last Sunday´s Irish Race Day at Hoppegarten was a big success. Despite indifferent weather, more than 5,000 racegoers turned up to watch demonstrations of hurling and gaelic football, enjoy Irish specialities and see Irish dancing and bands in action. The main feature, the Group Two Comer Group International Oleander-Rennen over two miles, also ended with the right result, with the two favourites taking the first two places.
It was Red Cardinal (Montjeu), trained by Andreas Wöhler – winning this race for the fifth time in six years- and in the colours of Australian Bloodstock who triumphed in the end, coming through late on the inside under stable jockey Eduardo Pedroza to lead at the distance and score by a length and a quarter from British raider Nearly Caught (New Approach), who just held on for second place from the fast-finishing San Salvador (Lord of England). It was a good performance by Red Cardinal, who was trained in the first part of last season by David Simcock before being boúght by the Australians with the express aim of running him in the Melbourne Cuip, a race won by the same team with Protectionist in 2014.
Red Cardinal will however first run in the Belmont Gold Cup on June 9th at Belmont Park; the winner of the Hoppegarten race receives a free entry to that valuable two mile event, and Wöhler always had this in mind. Red Cardinal will probably be accompanied to New York by Potemkin (New Approach), who is expected to run in the following day´s Manhattan Handicap. Wöhler also had two three-year-old maiden winners on Sunday, with Qatar Racing´ s Japanese-bred Promise of Peace (King Kamehameha) easily winning over eleven furlongs at Krefeld, and Jaber Abdullah´s Yaa Saalam (Helmet) scoring even more easily over a mile at Hoppegarten. Both are very well bred and look certain to make an impact at a higher level.
This weekend´s big race is the Group Two Mehl-Mülhens-Rennen (German 2,000 Guineas) at Cologne. Nine colts are expected to face the starter in Germany´s first classic of 2017, including one foreign challenger, William Haggas´ Lockheed (Exceed and Excel). British raiders have a very good record in this race and have won it eight times already this century – including two winners trained by Haggas. Lockheed is making his seasonal debut, but with the Haggas stable in great form this week, this should not be a problem. He ran respectably in some of the top juvenile races last year, including when just over four lengths third behind Churchill in the National Stakes at the Curragh. A repetition of that form would give him an obvious chance here. Lockheed is owned by China Horse Club, and at 450,000 guineas was one of the top lots at Tattersalls October Yearling Sale (Book One) in 2015. An interesting feature of his pedigree is that his dam Clinical (Motivator) won a listed race over the course and distance of Sunday´s race for Sir Mark Prescott.
In theory the best of the Germans should be Dragon Lips (Footstepsinthesand) who won the Dr. Busch-Memorial, usually the most reliable trial for the race, by three and a half lengths. He is trained locally by first season trainer Andreas Suborics, who has made an excellent start. However he had the run of a very messy race that day and it is certainly conceivable that one or more of the four runners that now reoppose – Savile Row (Ransom o´War), who finished third, Suborics´ second runner Fulminato (Excelebration – the 2011 winner of this race) fifth, Shinzaro (Invincible Spirit), seventh, and Dia Del Sol (Soldier Hollow), who was ninth. Dia Del Sol got no run at all in the Dr. Busch; he is owned by the race sponsors and will be out to avenge the very narrow defeat of his half-brother Degas (Exceed and Excel) in this race a year ago. With stable jockey Adrie de Vries injured, he will be partnered by French jockey Ioritz Mendizibal.
The other three runners in the Mehl-Mülhens-Rennen are all trained by Andreas Wöhler, whose stable continues in great form. His main jockey Eddie Pedroza has chosen Jaber Abdullah´s Poetic Dream (Poet´s Voice), top French jockey Maxime Guyon has been booked for Gestüt Hachtsee´ s Empire of the Star (Siyouni), while Jozef Bojko is aboard Darius Racing´s Rostam (Hat Trick).
One more significant race this weekend is the listed race for three-year-old fillies at Düsseldorf on Saturday, a trial for the Preis der Diana (Oaks), in which seven of the eight runners are entered. Andreas Wöhler´s Megera (Motivator) won nicely over this course and distance last time and definitely has a chance. However the likely favourite is Alicante (Lando), who could kick off a successful weekend for owner-breeder Gestüt Röttgen and trainer Markus Klug, the team behind Dia Del Sol.