Ausgabe 668 vom Freitag, 14.05.2021
Last Sunday's Group Two Comer Group International 50th Oleander-Rennen was arguably the best race run this season in Germany, at least for older horses, and was also the richest with 100,000 euros in prize-money, thanks to the generosity of the sponsors, whose European HQ is in Berlin. The Hoppegarten Irish Race Day, usually one of the most atmospheric fixtures of the year was of course run without spectators, so the usual razzamattazz was missing, but at least the owners were there (some of them anyway), the Irish Ambassador was there and so was Luke Comer, once again trying to win back some of his own money. He had succeeded in 2019, when Raa Atoll scored in his own colours, and this time had two runners Aircraft Carrier (Declaration of War) and Questionare (Galileo), both of whom had run in the race last year, when the race had to be run in November for pandemic-related reasons. They finished third and seventh respectively then, and this time it was almost a rerun of the 2020 edition, with six of the runners reappearing, including the first five from last November.
The result was however different, as 2020 winner Quian (Mastercraftsman) was rather disappointing in sixth (because of the slow pace according to trainer Peter Schiergen) while 2020 runner-up Rip Van Lips (Rip van Winkle) turned the form around with a convincing victory. Questionare did better of the Irish runners, finishing eighth with Aircraft Carrier well back in eleventh of the 13 runners, but at least the winner is Irish-bred. Rip Van Lips, whose owner Hans-Dieter Lindemeyer (“the Bill Gates of East Germany”) breeds under the name Stall Parthenaue and has his horses run under the Stall Lintec label; they almost all have the word “Lips” in their name, which refers to the owner´s home town of Leipzig.
Rip Van Lips has had quite a dramatic career. He was a smart 2yo, finishing fourth in the Preis des Winterfavoriten, but then suffered a fracture of his right foreleg and missed the entire 2019 season; as a result he now runs with screws pinning the bone, and he has gradually come back to top form. His two runs in the Oleander-Rennen were his best yet, and he is now rated GAG 93½ (=international 107). He is now automatically qualified for the Belmont Gold Cup, but trainer Andreas Suborics says that he will not be risked on the likely firm ground and that his next target is the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Normally he cannot hope to defeat Stradivarius and co, but he is from a really stout family and should certainly stay the trip; he should give a good account of himself, especially if there is ease in the ground. Veteran French jockey Gerald Mossé rode him at Hoppegarten and his immediate post-race comment was that “he is a really nice horse and a proper stayer.”
The race at Hoppegarten was run at a decent pace, certainly not a crawl as is sometimes the case, but not at a breakneck gallop either. Rip Van Lips was always prominent, came in second place into the straight and led two furlongs out, galloping on strongly to the line. He was never in danger and finally scored by 2½ lengths from local hope Memphis (Jukebox Jury), with French raider Brokeback Mountain (Le Havre) half s length back in third. Rip Van Lips was clearly the best horse on the day, and by some margin, and we would love to see him run well at Ascot.
The other interesting German race last weekend was the listed event for 3yo fillies at Düsseldorf, a trial for the German 1,000 Guineas over the same CD at the end of May. Several of last season´s top 2yo fillies were in the line-up, including Novemba (Gleneagles), runner-up in the Preis der Winterkönigin, and Reine d´Amour (Soldier Hollow), who been a disappointment in that race but had earlier won the Zukunfts-Rennen at Baden-Baden. Whatever the reason for Reine d´Amour´s below par performance in the Winterkönigin, the Gestüt Auenquelle homebred was back to her best here, winning quite comfortably by a length from the fast-finishing Libre (Exceed and Excel), a Gestüt Brümmerhof homebred. The first two are likely to meet again in the Guineas, for which they are currently quoted as joint favourites at 7-2 by RaceBets. They could well be the best of the German contestants, but it is not yet clear which challengers, if any, will come over from the U.K., and British raiders have a very good record in this race. At the moment of course the twin problems of Brexit and Covid-19 are making it very difficult for runners to come here from England, but we are hopeful that the Covid-19 situation at least will have eased somewhat by race day.
We have also seen some spectacular international successes for German breeding in recent weeks. One of them certainly was the impressive win of the Schlenderhan-bred 4yo Mare Australis (Australia) in the Prix Ganay, the first Group One race of the European season. Ii is early days yet, but Mare Australis, who will certainly stay 12 furlongs, must be seen as an early fancy for the Prix de l´Arc de Triomphe, which closed this week. He is trained by André Fabre, who has had great success with German-breds and won the Arc two years ago with Ammerland's Waldgeist. Fabre also trained Manduro for Baron Ullmann, and another member of this family, World Premiere (Deep Impact), won the extremely valuable Tenno Sho (Spring) recently. He is out of the Acatenango mare Mandela, a half-sister to Manduro (Monsun), who according to Fabre would have won the Arc but for an injury.
Another big Japanese winner this month was Schnell Meister (Kingman), who won last week´s Grade One NHK Mile Cup by a nose. Schnell Meister is out of Gestüt Wittekindshof's Preis der Diana winner Serienholde (Soldier Hollow), one of several Germans Oaks winners now in Japan, but Schnell Meister was in fact foaled in Wittekindshof, which makes him German-bred. He is apparently the first German-bred winner in Japan since Lando won the Japan Cup in 1995. It was also a very good weekend for Germany's top stallion Soldier Hollow (In The Wings), who stands at Auenquelle but is still owned by Park Wiedingen (Helmut von Finck): not only for Reine d´Amour and Schnell Meister but also because of his daughter Axana, a 4yo filly trained by Andreas Wöhler and winner of last Saturday´s Group Three Chartwell Fillies Stakes at Lingfield. Axana is the first German-trained black type winner this year in the U.K., but we hope not the last!
This weekend´s racing in Germany in relatively low key. We have a listed race today at Dortmund (after these lines are written) and two listed races at Hanover on Sunday. We shall look back at those races next week.