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The English page - German stallions

Adlerflug. www.galoppfoto.de - Sandra Scherning


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 546 vom Freitag, 30.11.2018

This has been a blank week for German racing; there is racing today (Friday) on the sand track at Dortmund, and in December we have two more sand fixtures at both Neuss and Dortmund, but with all due respect, these are all very low grade. It is therefore time to have another look at the German stallion scene, following last week´s rather alarming statistics.

But first, a look back to 1993, and at the race generally regarded as the best German Derby of the modern era, run at Hamburg on July 4thLando (Acatenango) ran out an easy winner from Monsun (Königsstuhl) by a length and a quarter, with Sternkönig (Kalaglow) a length and three-quarters third. Lando, an Ittlingen homebred, went on to a brilliant career, culminating in his Japan Cup victory as a five-year-old; he was also a major success at stud. Monsun, bred by Isarland and owned by Baron Ullmann, also went on to a highly successful career on the racetrack and reached even greater heights as a stallion, as certainly the most successful in Germany since the war and probably the best ever. Sternkönig, a Röttgen homebred, was slightly outclassed by these two, but he also went on to Group One success and also did well as a stallion. All three are long dead, but their influence is still pervasive in German racing and breeding; indeed Sternkönig is this year´s leading broodmare sire in Germany, and his daughter Wellenspiel is the dam of the two most recent German Derby winners.

German racing was enjoying a huge boom in 1993. Betting turnover on Derby Day was over 6 million DM, and on the Derby itself almost 2.5 million. We can only dream of figures like that today. And we can only dream of another Derby result like that one; all thirteen runners from this year´s Derby have only scraped together four races  between them since, the best of them a Group Three. The stallion scene is also much weaker; Acatenango and Königsstuhl were giants, both winners themselves of the Deutsches Derby and hugely successful at stud.

However we must not be too negative and shall look now at four success stories for German breeding: two of them are also winners of the Deutsches Derby – Adlerflug (In the Wings) in 2007 and Sea The Moon (Sea The Stars) in 2014; one a sprinter, Areion (Big Shuffle) who won the Goldene Peitsche way back in 1998, and one an import - Soldier Hollow, another son of the influential In The Wings, himself a leading representative of what is currently by far the most powerful sire line in the world.

Soldier Hollow was bred in England by Car Colston Hall Stud and was purchased as a yearling by Rüdiger Alles (IVA) for 75,000 guineas at Tattersalls on behalf of Helmut von Finck, who now races under the name of Gestüt Park Wiedingen. He really hit the jackpot here as not only was Soldier Hollow an excellent racehorse with four Group One successes to his name, but he is now by far the most successful stallion in Germany. He started out at Röttgen, but moved in 2012 to Auenquelle. His fee has risen from 6,000 euros in his first year at Auenquelle to a new high of 30,000 euros for 2019, but this is well justified by results. This has been his best year ever and he leads the German statistics by a huge margin, and two of his sons took the first two places in the Derby.

By German standards, the winning total of his progeny at 2.16 million euros is amazing, but the level of prize-money here is unfortunately so low that it is only enough to put him into 36th place in the European stallion statistics. By other standards however he rates much higher; for example, by the  number of black type winners he is in ninth place, and his ratio of black type winners to runners ratio of 6.88%  puts him is sixth place.

Adlerflug is in fourth place in the German table, but this is very respectable in view of the relatively small books he has covered. He has sired Group One winners Lacazar, Ito and notably the admirable Iquitos, Germany´s Horse of the Year in 2016 and almost certain to be so again this year. Adlerflug won the Derby in the colours of his breeder Gestüt Schlenderhan, but started his stud career at Bad Harzburg, however while that historic stud is currently being extensively renovated, he is back home at Schlenderhan, but he is the property of a syndicate organised around Harzburg. His fee has been increased to 15,000 euros for 2019, making him the second most expensive stallion in Germany, but again this looks justified and as he has been covering bigger and better books since moving, he is likely to do better still.

Apart from Soldier Hollow, Areion (Big Shuffle) is the only other German stallion to feature in the top 100 in Europe; he is in 75th place and he has been remarkably consistent over the years. Now 23 years old, he now stands at Etzean after spending most of his career at Evershorst. He has been champion sire three times and has almost always been in the top three in the table. He was bred by Erika Huber and raced in the colours of Marlene Haller, who still owns a major share. Like his sire, Royal Ascot winner Big Shuffle, he was a sprinter but gets plenty of runners that stay a mile and more. Like Soldier Hollow, his figures suffer from the prize-money level here, but he has a formidable record and though he is now a veteran, he remains remarkably and consistently successful at a fee of only 10,000 euros for 2019.

Finally we come to Sea The Moon, who is not strictly speaking a German stallion at all, as he stands at Kirsten Rausing´s Lanwades Stud in Newmarket. However he was bred in Germany by Gestüt Görlsdorf, was one of the easiest ever winners of the German Derby for them, and is still 51% owned by them. Rausing has 29% and there are twenty other shareholders, mainly well known international breeders. Sea the Moon is the best son so far of his outstanding sire and is out of an unraced Monsun mare who was an own sister to German Derby winners Samum and Schiaparelli, both sires themselves. Although this pedigree does not suggest that he would be a successful sire of two-year-olds, his first crop this year did extremely well, with 16 individual winners, including the winners of Germany´s two most prestigious juvenile events. He is leading first season sire in Germany and also leading sire of two-year-olds, which is pretty remarkable for a stallion who does not stand in the country, although he has been well supported by Görlsdorf and other German breeders. His yearlings have been selling very well – one at Tattersalls this week for 125,000 guineas to top agent Anthony Stroud – but his fee has remained unchanged since his start at Lanwades at 15,000 GBP.

The German stallion scene is certainly much weaker now than it was 25 years ago when Lando won the Deutsches Derby. It is therefore not surprising that several potentially smart stallions have left for England, France and Ireland. Sea The Moon, for instance, has covered more than 100 mares every years so far, while no German-based stallion covered more than 76 this year. However the four listed here have all proven themselves and stand at fees which by international standards represent very good value.

David Connolly-Smith

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