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The English page - Frankie comes to Düsseldorf

Miss Yoda, winning the German Oaks, Zamrud second, Virginia Joy (r.) third. www.galoppfoto.de - Sandra Scherning


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 630 vom Freitag, 07.08.2020

Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, a website devoted to international horse racing, publishes regular tables (TRC Global Rankings) of leading jockeys, trainers and stallions using a points system based on the last three years´ results in the top Group One races worldwide. In the latest update, published earlier this week, Frankie Dettori is listed as the world´s most successful jockey, followed by Japan-based Christophe LemaireWilliam Buick and Ryan Moore, while John Gosden heads the trainers´ table, followed by Charlie ApplebyChad Brown and Aidan O´Brien, and the sires´ list sees Dubawi in front, followed by Galileo and Sea The Stars.

This attempt to create a “world ranking”, as there is for example in tennis and golf, is in the opinion of this writer not ideally suited to horse racing, but it is certainly relevant to the last fortnight´s racing in Germany, with the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis at Munich won by the Charlie Appleby-trained Barney Roy, ridden by William Buick, and a week later, last Sunday´s Henkel Preis der Diana (German Oaks) was won by the Sea The Stars filly Miss Yoda, trained by John Gosden and partnered by Frankie Dettori.

These victories for Newmarket trainers followed this year´s German Derby, won by French-trained In Swoop; in fact, leaving out the 2019 German Oaks, when there were no foreign runners in the field, the last eight German Group One races have all gone to horses trained outside the country, five of them in the U.K., two in France and one in Hungary. This is rather depressing from the German point of view, but should not be regarded as a total tragedy; there are several factors involved, including the natural cycle of things, and the situation is probably more serious in France, where almost all the top races have gone to British and Irish stables for several years now.

It is after all less than ten years since Danedream won the Arc and then the 2012 King George, which was taken one year later by Novellist, both horses bred and trained in Germany. Waldgeist, last year´s Arc winner, is German-owned and although by Galileo has basically a German pedigree. Not every crop produces an international champion, and currently there seems to be no superstars in German stables, but that can change quickly enough; just think back to Danedream´s meteoric rise in 2011. And there are some positive aspects – In Swoop is certainly German-bred and won the German Derby in the colours of his breeder Gestüt Schlenderhan, while Miss Yoda, although the product of a foal-sharing arrangement, was bred by Gestüt Etzean and was one of the top lots at the 2018 BBAG Yearling Sale, when sold to an agent acting for Georg von Opel, who is German-born but now has Swiss nationality and lives mainly in England. The racing industry is extremely cosmopolitan but German owners and breeders continue to punch well above their weight.

In theory Miss Yoda´s victory was a surprise, as on ratings she was only the eleventh-best horse in the race and her best form had been to win the listed Lingfield Oaks Trial, hardly the best recommendation compared to the Baden-Baden, Hoppegarten and Hamburg form of the top Germans, not to mention the strong Irish and French challengers. However, in hindsight, it makes sense; if Gosden decides on this race and Dettori is to ride, it is clear that they mean business. And the trainer explained in an interview with the SportWelt before the race that this had been Miss Yoda´s target all along. And the fact that she was representing such a powerful team also meant that she started at much shorter odds, 53:10, than might have been expected on form.

The story of the race is soon told. She was drawn on the inside in stall one, she had run quite freely in her previous races, so the tactics were obviously to make the running, which she did at a very sedate pace into the straight. Düsseldorf is in any case a track that favours front-runners. There was a slight scare when she appeared to falter crossing the path, but Dettori soon her galloping on strongly and she quickly had the race under control, scoring by three parts of a length from Zamrud (Samum), in second place almost throughout, and the fast-finishing Virginia Joy (Soldier Hollow) in second and third, separated by a nose and thus almost exactly repeating their form from Hamburg. Dettori told the Racing Post: “She jumped good. I wanted to be in front and I was in front by the bend. She was flowing with a lovely action. When I turned for home she was thinking of going back to the stables, but I said “come on, concentrate” and she went.” It was a brilliant piece of riding; it always looks so easy to make the running, but only a top jockey can execute these tactics to perfection and Frankie certainly did so here.

Of the rest Zamrud kept on very gamely and Virginia Joy came from a long way back, while Irish challenger Silence Please (Gleneagles) was quickly in a prominent position despite her outside draw, was fourth into the straight and looking very dangerous; but then she started to hang and made no further progress. The others were basically never involved. The handicapper has raised Miss Yoda from a pre-race 99 to 108 (German GAG 94), the lowest rating for a winner of the Preis der Diana since 2006. Of course there is plenty of time to better these figures. Miss Yoda herself has no fancy entries at present, while Silence Please is entered in the Irish St. Leger, although on the evidence of the Düsseldorf race, that could be a trip too far. Most of the German fillies that were in the money are entered in the Group Two fillies and mares race at Baden-Baden.

This weekend we would normally be looking forward to Hoppegarten and the Group One Grosser Preis von Berlin; however that race has been postponed and will probably now be run on October 3rd, a German national holiday. Instead we have a Group Three event over the same distance of 2400 metres, which will be notable both the seasonal debut of Laccario (Scalo), winner of the 2019 German Derby and the joint highest rated horse in training in Germany, and also the comeback of his regular jockey Eduardo Pedroza, who had a hip operation in May. In theory Laccario should win this race with ease; he should certainly finish in front of course specialist Be My Sheriff (Lawman) at these weights. The 4yo filly Apadanah (Holy Roman Emperor) could be a big danger if she jumps off with the rest of the field but she has often lost all chance at the start. The two 3yo´s look very dangerous; Notre Ruler (Ruler of the World) is consistent and finished fifth (moved up to fourth) in the German Derby, while Memphis (Jukebox Jury) was runner-up in the Italian Oaks. but we have seen that classic form this season has to be taken with a pinch of salt, and therefore expect Laccario, if he is at least 90% fit after his long break since being beaten by a whisker in the Preis der Deutschen Einheit here last October, to score for last year´s classic crop.

David Conolly-Smith

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