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The English page - The ground came right for Khan

Khan, winning the Preis von Europa. www.galoppfoto.de - Sandra Scherning


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 537 vom Freitag, 28.09.2018

There was a lot of rain last weekend in Cologne. This would not normally be worth a mention, but 2018 has not been a normal year as regards the weather, and this rain came after more than four months of heatwave and drought.  As a result the going was soft for the first time since the spring. In fact it was more than soft; by the start of racing on Sunday it was very bad, and by the fifth race – when the rain das slowed to a drizzle, but the damage had already been done – it was terrible and the later races, including the Group One Preis von Europa, were started by flag.

Under these circumstances it was not necessarily the best horses that won, but the ones that coped best with the conditions. In the Preis von Europa this was clearly Khan (Santiago), who after racing in second place, took the lead coming into the straight and after seeing off two strong challenges skipped clear in the final furlong to win by six lengths. Walsingham (Campanologist) kept on for second with last year´s winner Windstoss (Shirocco) third; Devastar (Areion), who had looked very dangerous two furlongs out, faded into fourth and appeared not to stay. Odds-on favourite Torcedor (Fastnet Rock), having his first race for Andreas Wöhler after being bought of Jessica Harrington´s stable in the summer, was never happy on the extreme going and finally finished last. It seems that plans to run him in the Melbourne Cup have now been shelved.

Khan was bred by Gestüt Karlshof and is the best horse sired in the short stud career of Santiago (Highest Honor), who won the German 2,000 Guineas in 2005 and the Premio Ribot ion 2007; both these races were run on soft going, and he has obviously passed on this trait to his offspring – his son Northern Rock won the big handicap at Cologne on Sunday as well. Khan, a half-brother to Kamsin (Samum), another soft ground specialist who won three Group One races and now stands at Haras d´Etreham covering N.H. mares, was always highly regarded but is clearly very ground dependent. His best performance last year was his close fifth place in the Grosser Preis von Bayern, and this year he has been mixing it in the best company but, until last Sunday, without success. Holger Faust, whose family owns Karlshof and who is also racing manager for owner Darius Racing, explained: “he was fit and well and needed to run, even though we knew he had no chance in the conditions.”

Khan (then named Kiriakos) was sold as a yearling for 40,000 euros at the BBAG Yearling Sale in 2015 to pinhooker Brown Island Stables. Faust bought him eight months later for a bargain 37,000 euros at the Arqana May breeze-up: “He had shown tremendous development since Baden-Baden.” He went into training with Henk Grewe at Cologne. It seems that there was some dispute between Grewe and Faust over the plans for Khan this month. “I wanted to run him in the German St. Leger a week ago,” said the trainer, ”and I thought Holger was crazy to run him here!” However all´s well that ends well, and Khan, reveling in the conditions, provided the trainer, and also the young French jockey Clement Lecoeuvre, with their first ever Group One victory. Khan´s official rating has gone up to 116 and he is expected to run next in the Canadian International, if conditions are suitable, which currently seems likely.

While it was clearly a good decision to run Khan in the Preis von Europe, it was an equally smart decision by the connections of Night Music (Sea the Stars) to miss the race. The five-year-old mare, a half-sister to champion Night Magic (Sholokhov), who also ran in Stall Salzburg´s colours, was switched to Milan instead and ran out a very easy winner of the Premio Federico Testio. She must have good ground and clearly the air in northern Italy suits her, as she has now won all her five starts in Milan. She has only run once in her native Germany in the past two years, that was in the Grosser Preis von Baden at the beginning of this month, where she finished fifth with Khan last of the seven runners. Trained by Sarah Steinberg in Munich, she could go back to Milan for her next start, in the Gran Premio del Jockey Club in three weeks´ time, but the much more valuable QEII in Kyoto and later on Hong Kong are also under consideration.

Big race in Germany this weekend is Sunday´s Grosser Preis der Landeshauptstadt over the extended mile at Düsseldorf. Course specialist Millowitsch (Sehrezed) will attempt to repeat his 2017 win here, but the opposition looks stronger this time. He finished well in front of Diplomat (Teofilo) and Degas (Exceed and Excel) here in April, but both have been in better form since, especially the latter who was unlucky in Baden-Baden last time. The supplemented Peace in Motion (Hat Trick), the only filly in the field, could be dangerous, as is Emerald Master (Mastercraftsman), the only three-year-old and now down in trip. English raider Crazy Horse (Sleeping Indian), now trained by George Baker, is an obvious threat; he has not raced since June, waiting for better ground, but his Ascot form in May now reads well.

David Conolly-Smith


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