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The English page - German Derby picture getting clearer

Wonderful Moon, winning the Union-Rennen at Cologne. www.galoppfoto.de - Sandra Scherning


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 623 vom Freitag, 19.06.2020

The IDEE 151st running of the Group One Deutsches Derby will be run on July 12th, one week later than originally planned because of the delays in the racing programme caused by the coronavirus crisis. The normally week long Derby meeting at Hamburg will now be concentrated into three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, all with about twelve races and starting before noon. The good news is that the prize money for the Derby remains unchanged at 650,000 euros, making it not only by far the richest race in Germany but also one of the most valuable in Europe, as most leading countries such as France, the U.K. and Ireland have all sharply reduced their prize money. Only Italy is otherwise keeping race values at the old level, as the money is paid there out of ministry funds – but often with a very long delay.

The picture for this year´s German Derby has become much clearer following two interesting trials last weekend. The more important was the Group Two Union-Rennen in Cologne, the oldest race in the German calendar –dating back to 1834 –and always a reliable pointer towards Hamburg; indeed in both 2018 and 2019 the first two in Cologne later filled exactly the same positions in the Derby itself.

Clear favourite was Wonderful Moon (Sea The Moon), trained locally by Henk Grewe and running in the colours of Stall Wasserfreunde (“water friends”), who had very easily won the Cologne classic here five weeks previously from Grocer Jack (Oasis Dream) and Palao (Champs Elysees). Form does not always work out son well, but the Union-Rennen ended with exactly the same three horse in the same positions. However Wonderful Moon had to work much harder this time, as Grocer Jack threw down a strong challenge and only went down by three parts of a length. It had been not only a length more in the earlier race, but on that occasion Wonderful Moon had scored with greatest of ease. Palao also finished strongly to finish a further ¾ length behind the pair, but tragically had to be put down later as he had suffered a fracture of the fetlock during the race; a huge shame as he had looked a great prospect.

Wonderful Moon is now clear favourite for German Derby at odds of around 5-4. He was Germany´s top juvenile last season after his spectacular victory in the late autumn Ratibor-Rennen and has remained at the top with his two victories this season. However it is hard to argue that he has actually improved much since last year, he is still the best of the crop but in the Derby could possibly be vulnerable to a late developer who is still improving and has more stamina. He is the most likely winner of the Derby, but not really appealing at current odds.

Henk Grewe holds a very strong hand in any case and made it clear earlier in the season that his main problem would be in keeping is classic hopes apart before the Derby. He saddled three runners in the Union-Rennen and also had a fancied contender the following day in Munich´s Derby Trial. This was Dicaprio (Adlerflug), who had won on his debut in Cologne in early May in good style and followed up with a very stylish victory here. The going was very soft after persistent rain, but he came with a powerful run from the rear to win by seven lengths from Notre Ruler (Ruler of the World), who according zo trainer Peter Schiergen is to take his chance in the Derbv. The field was certainly weaker at Munich than in Cologne, but it was still an impressive performance by Dicaprio, who stays well and is not without a chance of defeating is stable companion at Hamburg, especially is the ground comes up soft.

Now that the borders are again open, international racing is now possible again and Grewe sent two of his top 3yo´s abroad this week – first Rubaiyat (Areion) to Italy to run in the local 2,000 Guineas and then the French-bred  Only the Brave (Iffraaj) to run in a decent race for 3yo´s over the Derby distance. Rubaiyat was a good runner-up in Italy, just as he had been in the German equivalent, but Only the Brave ran out a ready winner in Angers and will now join Grewe´s squad for Hamburg. Two other German-owned 3yo´s with Derby pretensions ran in France last week, the Schlenderhan homebred Mare Australis (Australia) and Frohsim (Dabarsim), owned by Munich bookmaker Simon Springer, and they finished first and second, in that order, in the listed  Prix de l´Avre at Chantilly. Both are entered at Hamburg, but according to reports, the former will run in the Prix du Jockey Club instead, while Frohsim will be sent to the Garman Derby. Frohsim´s sire Dabarsim (Hat Trick) was also trained for Springer by Christophe Ferland and was Europe´s champion juvenile; he has also done well as a stallion, but very few of his progeny stay the full Derby distance.

Latest betting on the German Derby from RaceBets sees Wonderful Moon at 13-10, Dicaprio at 4-1, the Cologne runner-up Grocer Jack at 13-2, another Grewe runner Adrkan at 5-2,and  Only the Brave at 8-1, so that Grewe has four of the first five in the betting. There follow three horses trained in the U.K. and France, and of course it is quite possible that there will be foreign raiders in view of the good prize money.

Looking forward now to this weekend, where we have a Group Three race at Dortmund on Saturday. and the Group Two German 1,000 Guineas on Sunday at Düsseldorf which will be run for the 100th time. The former race is the first major occasion in which 3yo´s can take on older horses in Germany and Grewe has entered Zavaro (Areion), a close fourth in the German 2,000 Guineas and before that runner-up to Rubaiyat in the Dr. Busch-Memorial. Obviously he is getting a lot of weight from the older horses and must have a good chance. Also in the line-up are Nica (Kamsin) and Aviateur (Intense Focus), who fought out such a tremendous battle at Baden-Baden a fortnight ago; Nica won narrowly then but at these weights Aviateur can take his revenge. However the one to beat is surely that admirable oldtimer Potemkin (New Approach), who has already won this race twice. Now a 9yo, Potemkin made a successful seasonal debut at Düsseldorf two weeks ago and can take this event for the third time.

WIth all due respect to the Belgian and Dutch horses that have been running here recently, the fact that a runner from England takes her chance in the 1,000 Guineas is notable as the first real raider of the year. This is Mark Johnston´s Rose of Kildare (Make Believe), who had a very busy and also successful campaign at two, winning 5 races including two Group Threes. Johnston, who has started the season in great style, has won this race for the past two years and can make it a hat-trick here. The best of the locals are probably Democracy (Areion) and No Limit Credit (Night of Thunder).

David Conolly-Smith

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