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The English page - German hopes for Arc weekend

Alpinista, winning her second Gr. I race in Germany, www.galoppfoto.de - Stephanie Gruttmann


Daniel Delius


Ausgabe 688 vom Freitag, 01.10.2021

Sir Mark Prescott´s 4yo filly Alpinista, as expected, proved too strong for her German rivals in last Sunday´s Group One Preis von Europa at Cologne, leading one and a half furlongs out and quickly asserting to win by 1 ½ lengths from the CD specialist Nerium (Camelot) with the German Derby winner Sisfahan (Isfahan) running on late to go third. The first half mile was run at a crawl with none of the jockeys wanting to make the running until Nerium went on and injected some pace into the race. He led by 4 lengths coming into the straight, but Luke Morris was aware of the situation, soon had Kirsten Rausing´s grey into position and the filly lengthened in really good style to cut down the leader and soon put the race to bed. It was a proper performance and confirmed Alpinista´s form from the Grosser Preis von Berlin, form which has been well advertised since. The German handicapper has rated her Hoppegarten victory at GAG 99 (=international 118) but considers her latest win to be worth only GAG 98 (116), but that is still a good result for the race. Nerium put up his best ever performance, partly due to the enterprise of his jockey, and showed that he is ideally suited by his home track, while Sisfahan, not suited by the poor early pace, also ran to form.

But this was Alpinista´s race and she was clearly the best horse in the field based on her Hoppegarten form and was able to repeat it convincingly enough. She always seems to go through a patch during her races when she appears briefly in trouble, but Luke Morris, who has partnered her to five of her six career victories, knows her well and is always able to get her going again. This victory revived memories of her grandam Albanova (Alzao), also owned and bred by Miss Rausing and trained by Sir Mark, who won three German Group Ones at the age of five in 2004, including the Preis von Europa. Now the plan is for Alpinista to attempt to emulate that feat by winning the Grosser Preis von Bayern in November, the final Group One of the European season. This is a wonderful family, all grey horses and almost all extremely talented performers who improve with age, and traces back to the old Aga Khan´s flying filly Mumtaz Mahal. According to Sir Mark, Alpinista – all being well- will stay in training at five next year when he is planning a more “adventurous” campaign, culminating in the “Arc.”

Sir Mark and Kirsten Rausing could well have another black type winner this weekend, when Alerta Roja (Golden Horn) runs in the listed Silbernes Band der Ruhr at Mülheim on Saturday; thids is Germany´s longest flat race, but this filly, another grey from the same family, ran really well at Hoppegarten when runner-up to Memphis (runs in the Group One Prix du Cadran, also on Saturday) and followed up with a second place to Stradivarius in the Doncaster Cup. Either of these pieces of form should normally suffice here.

There are also two group races in Germany on Sunday, with the Group Three Preis der Deutschen Einheit at Hoppegarten, commemorating the reunification of Germany in 1990, run over 2000 metres and the  101st Grosser Preis der Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf over an extended mile at Düsseldorf. Cologne trainer Waldemar Hickst has a good chance of winning both, with Dr. Christoph Berglar´s homebred Grocer Jack (Oasis Dream). arguably Germany´s best  performer over this distance, in Berlin and Gestüt Ittlingen´s homebred Liberty London (Maxios) at Düsseldorf.

However all eyes will be on Paris, where Europe´s most important race meeting, the Arc weekend, will be staged at Longchamp. There will be several German-trained runners at the meeting, and while none of them are favourites, it can be expected that most of them will run well and it will be disappointing if not one of them returns without any prize-money. And, thanks to the generosity of the Qatari sponsors, the money is plentiful; while many top races have had their purses reduced as a result of the covid-19 pandemic , the prize-money at this meeting has been kept as its usual very high level. The Arc itself is worth 2.857 million euros to the winner; the fifth horse home receives 143,000 euros, more than the winner of any of Germany´s five all-aged Group One races.

Obviously the Prix de l´Arc de Triomphe is the place to start, and although it will be a relatively small field this year (15), it is certainly not short on quality. The ground will almost certainly be soft, with quite a lot of rain forecast, which will suit the German challenger, the Marcel-Weiss-trained 4yo Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug), who definitely has a chance of finishing in the money, but – to be honest-- probably has no chance of actually winning. He is clearly worth a place in the field, but this opposition is far stronger than anything he has faced before, and realistically fourth or fifth place is probably the best he can hope for. The main favourites are the two Godolphin sons of Frankel trained by Charlie Appleby in Newmarket, Adayar and Hurricane Lane, winners of the Epsom and Irish Derby respectively as well as other top races; they are the two best 3yo colts around and both as it happens have German elements close up in their pedigrees. Then we have to consider Aidan O´Brien´s Snowfall (Deep Impact), surprisingly beaten last time out but an impressive winner of both the English and Irish Oaks. Deep Impact of course was a Japanese horse, and this writer was present at the 2006 Arc when there were amazing scenes with the Japanese punters queuing up to bet on their champion; he was long odds-on most of the time and a special window had to be opened for the Japanese, many of whom said that they would not cash in their bets should he win but keep the betting slips as souvenirs. In the event he finished only third and was subsequently disqualified as well, but he has made amends with his excellent record as a sire.

Several Japanese horses have come close to winning this race, but none has actually won it. This year their hopes are pinned on Chrono Genesis (Bago), who will be ridden by Oisin Murphy and he can certainly be expected to run a big race despite the long break. Another who is hoping to break his Arc duck is veteran Irish trainer Dermot Weld, and we really fancy his contender, the Aga Khan´s 5yo mare Tarnawa (Shamardal). Christophe Soumillon, the owner´s retained jockey in France, who was very unlucky last time in the Irish Champion Stakes but showed last year, notably with her victory in the Breeders´ Cup Turf, that she is right out of the top drawer. She has clearly been trained especially for this race, which could certainly be to her advantage compared to horses like Adayar, and she was won on very soft ground at Longchamp so the going should be no problem. Another one could enjoy soft going is German-bred Alenquer, like Torquator Tasso a son of Adlerflug, and who is trained in Newmarket by William Haggas, who has enjoyed a great season like his jockey here, Tom Marquand. Our three against the field are therefore Tarnawa, Alenquer and Hurricane Lane, who was very impressive when winning the Grand Prix de Paris over this CD and is out of a Shirocco mare.

On Saturday there are two German-trained  runners in the Group One Prix du Cadran over 4000 metres, a race in which German-breds have a good record. Princess Zoe (Jukebox Jury), bred by Gestüt Höny-Hof, won it Last year and could go close again, but so could another daughter of Jukebox Jury, Memphis, trained by Roland Dzubasz in Hoppegarten. We certainly prefer her to the other German hope Tangut (Adlerflug). In the Group Two Prix Daniel Wildenstein, the two winners of the German Guineas races this year, Mythico and Novemba (Gleneagles) clash, with preference for the filly. On Sunday there are German contestant in the Group One races for 2yo´s, but experience has shown that German juvenile form rarely matches up to the form of the best British and Irish races for this age group. It is a different matter however with German Oaks winner Palmas (Lord of England), in whom a share was sold this week; she is trained by Andreas Wöhler and will be partnered by Eduardo Pedroza. The 3yo filly in beaten and very lightly raced; she runs in the Prix de l´Opera and in our opinion is the best hope of a German victory at the weekend.

David Conolly-Smith

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