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The English page - German Derby form in the spotlight

Peaches (r.), winning the Winterkönigin Trial. www.galoppfoto.de - Stephanie Gruttmann


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 638 vom Freitag, 02.10.2020

Last weekend´s racing in Germany was mainly low key, but there were two performances at Cologne on Sunday that are definitely worth a mention. The first was the victory of Peaches (Lord of England) in the listed Winterkönigin-Trial for 2yo fillies. She was bred by Gestüt Etzean, was a 28,000 euros BBAG yearling and is trained locally by Andreas Suborics, who is currently in red hot form. She was still a maiden coming into the race, but had been placed on all three starts in decent company, including when runner-up in a valuable sales race at Baden-Baden. The conditions of the race meant that as a result she had to give weight to the previous winners in the field, but she did this very convincingly, challenging last of all on the stands rail to get up in the final furlong and defeat the favourite Amazing Grace (Protectionist) by three parts of a length.

Amazing Grace had on her only previous start been runner-up to a group race performer at Chantilly and was in receipt of two kilos here, so it was a really good performance by the winner, who is likely to go next for the Preis der Winterkönigin itself, to be run at Baden-Baden in the middle of this month. She has also been entered in next year´s Preis der Diana (Oaks). The first two finished well clear of Litex Commerce´s homebred Kaliyah (Charm Spirit) in third. Peaches has been rewarded with a GAG rating of 90 (=international also 90), so is now the second highest-rated German 2yo filly of the crop. Amazing Grace, a Dr. Christoph Berglar homebred, also ran a strong race in second and looks a certainty winner next time out. Her first season sire Protectionist, also a Berglar-bred, had earlier in the afternoon had his first winner when Sporting ran out a very easy winner of a mile maiden. Protectionist (Monsun), winner of the Melbourne Cup and also the Group One Grosser Preis von Berlin, stands at Röttgen and looks very promising on what we have seen so far.

The other Colognr winner to make a very positive impression was Stall Nizza´s homebred 3yo Nerium (Camelot) who ran away with the top handicap on the card, leaving seasoned older handicappers well behind. The lightly-raced Nerium, trained locally by Peter Schiergen, is the most improved performer in Germany this year. He only made his debut in early July, when a well-beaten fifth of 13 in a modest maiden at Mülheim, but had won his four races since in impressive fashion, which has seen his GAG rating go up by no less than 16 ½ kilos to its current 85. This Is still short of what is normally required to sin at black type level, but he certainly looks like a group race horse. The Imm family (Stall Nizza) have had huge success with another “N” family, but he is from a different background; he is however closely related to their 2005 German Derby winner Nicaron (Acatenango). Nicaron ran five times after his Derby success but was never even placed, and there certainly seems to be some kind of jinx on German Derby winners, who in recent years have very rarely been able to confirm, let along boost, the Derby form.

Last year´s German Derby winner Laccario (Scalo) followed up with a good third to GhaIyyath in the Grosser Preis von Baden, and was then beaten by a nose in the Group Three Preis der Deutschen Einheit at Hoppegarten by Itobo (see below). He has only run once this year, when last of all in the Preis von Europa. Obviously he has had problems and he runs this Saturday on Lasix in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park. If anywhere near his best form of 2019 he should have a decent chance there, and the plan is for him to stay on in the States, with Graham Motion taking over as trainer from Andreas Wöhler.

However more interesting still is the situation regarding this year´s Deutsches Derby, as the six of the first seven to finish at Hamburg are declared to run this weekend. The winner, the Schlenderhan-bred  In Swoop (Adlerfliug) runs in the Arc and has been quite heavily supported for that race,having come down in the past few days from40-1 in the betting to 9-1. This os the result of the change in the weather; summer is over and autumn is here with heavy rain in many areas, including Paris. In Swoop has mainly run so far on good to firm, but his pedigree strongly suggests that he will handle very soft going, and his trainer Francis-Henri Graffard certainly believes so.

It was a close finish at Hamburg and In Swoop was fpllowed home by Torquator Tasso (Adlerliug), Grocer Jack (Oasis Dream) – subsequently disqualified after testing positive to caffeine – and Kaspar (Pivotal), while the favourite Wonderful Moon (Sea The Moon) was not far away on sixth and Dicaprio (Adlerflug) just behind in seventh. The first three mentioned and Dicaprio all run in Saturday´s Group One Grosser Preis von Berlin, while Wonderful Moon runs in the shorter Preis der Deutschen Einheit, normally the main event on this public holiday celebrating German reunification in 1990.

Wonderful Moon is likely to br a hot favourite for this 2000 metres event, and is certainly entitled to be so on his form last year and this spring. He appeared not to stay the full Derby trip and this distance should be ideal. Berlin has not had so much rain as elsewhere and the ground should be perfect. The one to beat could be course specialist and last year´s winner Itobo (Areion), a thoroughly consistent performer who has run some of his best races here. At 8 he is the oldest runner in the field, and the 3yo filly Tabera (Gleneagles), a very easy listed winner over this distance last time at Hanover, looks to be the only other serious danger.

The Group One race looks much more open, though the bookmakers make Derby runner-up Torquator Tasso clear favourite. He was third in the Grosser Preis von Baden, with Satomi and Kaspar of these runners well held, and did not get the run of the race at all. The track at Hoppegarten should suit him much better, but he did finish just behind Mark Johnston´s Communiqué (Casamento) at Baden-Baden. That was the one who set a very slow pace at Baden-Baden which resulted in some of the local horses, especially Torquator Tasso and Kaspar, running below form. Communiqué, the only foreign runner in the field, will again be partnered by Franny Norton but he is unlikely to use the same tactics again, and anyway locally-trained frontrunner Stex (Lord of England) can be expected to set a decent pace. Grocer Jack, third past the post at Hamburg, then finished just behind Kaspar in the Preis von Europa, and was then third in a Longchamp Group Three. He has always looked capable of winning a top race – this could be it. Communiqué was runner-up in this race last year, when it was run at its usual August date, and obviously could be in the hake-up again. Dicaprio, although behind the three above-named 3yo´s in the Derby, has since won very easily, but against inferior opposition, and also cannot be left out of calculations. There are many possibilities here, but for the sake of the German Derby´s reputation, we certainly hope to see the 3yo´s run well.

Whatever happens to Communiqué, there should be one British-trained winner this weekend in Germany, as Ed Walker´s Stormy Antarctic (Stormy Atlantic) should win Düsseldorf´s Group Three over the extended mile on Sunday. He has raided Germany already several times, with very successful results, including a victory over this CD in the spring of 2019, and a repetition of that form would probably suffice here.

David Conolly-Smith

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