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The English page - Front-runners score at Düsseldorf

Sibylle Vogt, the first female rider to win a classic race in the european pattern race circuit. www.galoppfoto.de - Stephanie Gruttmann


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 671 vom Freitag, 04.06.2021

The racecourse at Düsseldorf, situated on a wooded hill known as the Grafenberg, is undoubtedly one of the most attractive in Germany. Last Sunday´s fixture, with one of the best cards so far this season including two Group Two races, took place in perfect early summer weather, but of course without racegoers, so that there was very little atmosphere, a great shame as there was excellent racing with some notable winners. The ground had dried out after the miserable cold and wet weather which had been experienced for most of April and May, and the going was on the fast side. When conditions are like this, front-runners are heavily favoured at this rather sharp track, and that was the case again on Sunday, when five of the eleven races were won by a horse making all the running, which sometimes looks easy but requires great skill from the jockey in the saddle, who has to judge the pace exactly right. We have not forgotten Frankie Dettori's master class of this in last year's German Oaks at Düsseldorf on Miss Yoda.

Both Group Two races were won by these tactics, and pride of place has to go to Gestüt Brümmerhof´s homebred filly Novemba (Gleneagles) who won the WEMPE 101st German 1,000 Guineas after a brilliant ride from Germany's leading lady jockey Sibylle Vogt. Novemba, who had been runner-up in last year's Preis der Winterkönigin, had had one previous start in 2021, in the main trial for this race, when she had finished a close fourth. but had actually started favourite. Here she paid a generous 10.7-1, possibly as she appeared to be the second string of trainer Peter Schiergen. She was drawn towards the outside, but Vogt was able to bounce her out of the stalls and after a furlong move over to the inside rail and make the rest in lonely isolation. Ridden out to the line, her winning distance was 7 1/2 lengths, and Vogt admitted later that she was worried something might have gone wrong, so far ahead was she. That of course was not the case and she was a hugely impressive winner with Vogt becoming the first lady jockey to ride a classic winner in any leading European country.

Godolphin's French-trained Sky Angel (Dark Angel) ran on late to grab second place close home from Belcarra (Estidhkaar), previously winner of the Group Three Schwarzgold-Rennen, and the form can clearly be judged by these two, both with decent group race form to their credit. The official German handicapper has reacted suitably, putting Novemba up to a rating of German GAG 97.5 (=international 115), an exceptionally high rating for a German 3yo filly at this time of year. Not only is she now clearly the best 3yo in Germany, 5 pounds and more superior to the top colts, who would of course have to give her weight if they ever meet,  she is also officially rated the best winner of the main 1,000 Guineas run in Europe this season. The time of the race was very fast, only fractionally outside the time set by Clive Brittain's Crimplene (Lion Cavern), the winner of the race in the year 2000, and that one went on to win the Irish 1,000 Guineas and the Group One Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot and other top races; Novemba´s winning distance was the biggest since Mi Emma (Silvano) in 2007, who won by 9 lengths and then finished runner-up in the Coronation Stakes.

Novemba will not run at Royal Ascot, she was never entered and that race in any case comes too soon. Her next race is likely to be in the fillies Group Three mile race at Hamburg on Derby Day and it is hard to see any German-trained filly having much chance against her there, although Hamburg is a track which does not suit front-runners as much as Düsseldorf. At any rate Brümmerhof and trainer Peter Schiergen now know that they have a potential champion. Ironically Brümmerhof's owners, Gregor and Julia Baum, were not present to see their filly win. They also missed Diamanta (Maxios) winning the Preis der Diana in 2019 and now rather superstitiously believe that their horses run better at Düsseldorf without them. Novemba is the third foal out of their listed winner Nevada (Dubai Destination) and the next dam Norwegian Pride (Diktat) was also a listed winner and dam of Nordico (Medicean), who won three group races at around a mile. This is a very solid family but on pedigree it looks very unlikely that Novemba will stay much further than a mile; however she is obviously super smart at that distance and it will be exciting to follow her future career.

The other Group Two front-running winner Jin Jin (Canford Cliffs) was not quite as spectacular, but certainly convincing enough. The 5yo mare ran out a comfortable 2 ½ lengths winner of the Badener Meile in an almost identical time, and once again a Godolphin raider, Alpen Rose (Sea The Stars) finished runner-up, with another French raider Galova (Galiway) in third. Trainer Andreas Suborics, who has only had the Irish-bred mare since the winter, said beforehand that she was “only 85% fit”, and we would certainly like to see what she can do when she is at 100% as she beat some useful opposition here with the greatest of ease. She could go next for a Group One at Deauville and then we shall know. Jin Jin has had an amazing career so far. She only made her debut in the August of her 3yo season, and won three modest events easily enough. Last year she ran three times, all in black type events, and after two listed wins in Germany, won the Group Three Prix Perth at Saint Cloud last October on heavy ground, but she obviously acts just as well on fast. She has been the bargain of a lifetime for her owner Sabine Goldberg, who picked her up for only 4,000 euros at the 2017 Goffs Open Yearling Sale and now has an unbeaten Group One candidate racing in her colours. Her pedigree is certainly modest enough, but handsome is as handsome does and this certainly applies to her.

The other race of major interest at Düsseldorf was the listed Derby Trial over 2200 metres and this time the winner Aff un zo (Kallisto) came from well off the pace, finishing very fast to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths from Sisfahan (Isfahan). Aff un zo, owned by Holger Renz, was bred by Thomas Gehrig and was also well bought as a BBAG yearling for only 13,000 euros. He is trained by Markus Klug, who already has three recent Derby wins to his credit. To be honest, this was not the strongest Derby trial we have had this season, but the first two could both go straight to Hamburg according to their trainers. They will need to improve to have a chance in the Derby, but that of course is certainly possible.

This weekend´s top race is the Group Two Grosser Preis der rp Gruppe for 4yo´s and up over 2200 metres at Mülheim. Seven line up, including a French raider, Jerome Reynier's German-bred Noble Music (Sea The Moon), a listed winner last time at Longchamp over 2800 metres. The stable is in terrific form, but even so it will be disappointing if he can defeat some of German's top performers at this distance. Four of the runners ran in last year´s German Derby: Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug), runner-up at Hamburg to In Swoop, form well boosted afterwards, Grocer Jack (Oasis Dream), who passed the post in third but was later disqualified after failing a dope test as a result of contaminated feed, Kaspar (Pivotal), who was then promoted to third, and Adrian (Reliable Man) in seventh. The 2020 Derby form has worked out very well, but Torquator Tasso, who later won the Group One Grosser Preis von Berlin, now has a 3 kilo penalty, and we are not at all sure that he can confirm the form at these weights. Grocer Jack, who has won an Italian Group Two this year, is our tentative suggestion.

David Conolly-Smith

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