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The English page - Disappointing week for German racing

Looked impressive: Whispering Angel in Hannover. www.galoppfoto.de - Noe Tim Sorge


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 536 vom Freitag, 21.09.2018

Last Sunday was another disappointing day for German racing, with our two big hopes at ParisLongchamp both unplaced. Andreas Wöhler´s Royal Youmzain (Youmzain) was certainly not disgraced in fourth place, beaten less than two lengths, in the Prix Niel, but even so probably did not fulfil more optimistic expectations. Jean-Pierre Carvalho´s Well Timed (Holy Roman Emperor), unbeaten in four previous starts this year including the German Oaks, was soon beaten in the Vermeille and finished more than eight lengths behind the winner. The form of the Preis der Diana now looks much weaker than we had thought at the time. This was Well Timed´ s first race beyond eleven furlongs, and it is possible that she does not truly stay twelve, but it was still disappointing to see her beaten so far; Carvalho has indicated that she might go next for the Prix de l´Opera over ten furlongs.

The result of Sunday´s big race in Germany, the Group Three Deutsches St. Leger at Dortmund, was more of a shock than a disappointment. The winner, Sweet Thomas (Dylan Thomas) is a six-year-old gelding who was running for the 36th time and had never before threatened to get involved in the fínish to a black type race. The runner-up Ernesto (Reliable Man) was by some way the lowest-rated runner and had only one narrow win in a maiden race to his credit.

The reason for this horrible result was doubtless the suicidal pace set by the front-runner Brandon Castle, like the winner a six-year-old gelding by Dylan Thomas. He is known to like to make the running, but this time set off like a scalded cat, pursued by Valajani (Jukebox Jury), who was regarded as the strongest of the three three-year-olds in the race. They were some 15 lengths clear of the field down the far side and it was soon obvious that they had overdone it by some way; Brandon Castle was beaten at the entrance to the straight, and Valajani at the distance. Sweet Thomas had been last at halfway, but stayed on best of all to lead inside the final furlong out and quickly go clear, scoring by four and a half lengths. A solid handicapper previously over twelve furlongs, this was his first attempt at a longer distance, which clearly suited him, as did the overpaced way the race was run. The time was the third fastest in the 134 year history of the race.

Obviously the connections of the winner can be very happy with the result – owner-breeder Gestüt Wittekindshof, as well as trainer Andreas Suborics and jockey Stephen Hellyn, both of them winning a “classic” for the first time. But nobody else can be, the handicapper has bumped up the winner and runner-up by over twenty pounds, so handicaps are out in future, and they may be difficult to place. The Italian St. Leger was mooted as a possible target for Sweet Thomas, but he has now been supplemented for the Preis von Europa (see below).

One positive feature of last weekend from the German point of view was the emergence of some very promising two-year-olds. Gestüt Park Wiedingen´s homebred Whispering Angel (Soldier Hollow) made all on her debut at Hanover and went well clear to score by ten lengths; it is not sure what she beat, but she certainly looked impressive and is now quoted as favourite for the Preis der Winterkönigin. Ittlingen´s Enjoy the Moon (Sea The Moon), a half-brother to German Derby runner-up Enjoy Vijay, won the same day at Dortmund by half a length from Dschingis First (Soldier Hollow), an own brother to two Group One performers. The latter was the sales topper at last year´s BBAG Yearling Sale, but trainer Markus Klug was not too disappointed: “his brothers both needed their first start.” Another expensive yearling, Australian Bloodstock´s GB-bred Revelstoke (Toronado) had also run out an easy winner the previous day at Mülheim; all these look worth following.

Looking now to this weekend´s big race, the Group One Preis von Europa at Cologne.  For a long time this was the most valuable race in the German calendar and indeed one of the richest in Europe. Those days are unfortunately long gone; the prize money is now only about half of what it used to be, and in the meantime there are plenty of alternative races for the horses this race used to attract, from Milan to Stockholm, from Newbury to Longchamp, not to mention last weekend´s big meetings in Ireland and France. Thus it was depressing, but no huge shock, that only four runners were left in at last Monday´s final forfeit stage. They include last year´s winner Windstoss (Shirocco), who came here after winning the German Derby and then running fourth in the Grosser Preis von Baden; he was fourth in the latter race again this year and has an obvious chance to double up.

However it was clear that trainers would be looking at the possibility of supplementing runners, and four horses were finally added to the field. The most interesting of these is undoubtedly Torcedor (Fastnet Rock), who will be having his first race since being bought by an Australian Bloodstock syndicate and being moved to Andreas Wöhler. Wöhler trained Protectionist (Monsun) to win the Melbourne Cup in 2014 for members of the same syndicate, and Torcelor is having his prep here for the same race; Jamie Spencer has been booked and he will also be on board in Australia. Previously trained by Jessica Harrington the six-year-old has developed into one of Europe´s best stayers, running third in this year´s Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and second in the Goodwood Cup. It is over two years since he ran in a race over as short as the Cologne distance of 2400 metres, but he is the top-rated horse in the field and a threat to all.

Another interesting supplementary entry is that of four-year-old Walsingham (Campanologist), who actually finished in front of Windstoss at Hamburg in the summer. He is trained on the track, as is last Saturday´s St. Leger winner Sweet Thomas (Dylan Thomas); it would be a miracle however if the latter could repeat his Dortmund victory against this much stronger opposition. Markus Klug, trainer of Windstoss, has also supplemented Devastar (Areion), who has won three races this season- all at a lower level-  and is now moving up in grade and distance. The biggest threat to Torcedor and Windstoss would normally be the much improved five-year-old mare Night Music (Sea the Stars), only a neck behind the latter at Baden-Baden, but we understand that she is a doubtful runner because of the threat of heavy rain, and may be switched to Milan instead.

David Conolly-Smith


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