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The English page - Huge boost for German Derby form

Tight finish: Torquator Tasso winning the Großer Preis von Berlin. www.galoppfooto.de - Sabine Brose

Autor: 

Daniel Delius

TurfTimes: 

Ausgabe 639 vom Freitag, 09.10.2020

It has been a miserable year in many respects and good news has been rare indeed, in thoroughbred racing as in most other walks of life. It is therefore with great pleasure that one is able to announce that last weekend was hugely successful for the German racing and breeding industry. The weekend started with positive results on Saturday (a German national holiday) from Hoppegarten, continued with more success on the first day of Longchamp´s Arc meeting, a frankly amazing result from the Arc sale on Saturday evening, and finally the Prix de l´Arc de Triomphe itself, the most important race of the year in Europe, if not the whole world, in which the French-trained but German-bred and German–owned In Swoop (Adlerflug) finished strongest of all to take second place, beaten only a neck. and earned no less than 685,200 euros for his owner-breeder, the Ullmann family´s Gestüt Schlenderhan.

Hoppegarten´s main event was the Group One Grosser Preis von Berlin (normally run in August), and the race was seen as a test of the German 3yo form, which up to then had seemed to be relatively weak. The Derby winner In Swoop was missing – as seen above, he did his bit for the race the following day in Paris- but there were four 3yo  colts in the field, all of whom had run well at Hamburg and finished in the first six. The older horses in the line-up included Mark Johnston´s Communiqué (Casamento), runner-up in the race last year and most recently also runner-up in the Grosser Preis von Baden, as well as the Group Two winning 4yo fillies Stex (Lord of England) and Satomi (Teofilo). Stex made the running and set a decent pace, but was beaten early in the straight as Kaspar (Pivotal) and Grocer Jack (Oasis Dream) went on, but hot favourite and Derby runner-up Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug) had found a gap on the inside rail and was making rapid headway, while Dicaprio (Adlerflug) was also running on strongly. Torquator Tasso hit the front a furlong out and then had to repel the late charge of Dicaprio, scoring by a short head, with Kaspar 1 ¼ lengths back in third and then five lengths back to Grocer Jack, who appeared not to stay; Stex was rewarded for her front-running efforts with fifth place, while Communiqué was never in the race and finished last. The four colts who had run in the Derby thus took the first four places, giving the Hamburg form a real boost. Torquator Tasso, a Gestüt Auenquelle homebred, is trained by first season trainer Marcel Weiss, for whom it was a first Group One success, as it was also for jockey Lukas Delozier.

Delozier also rode the winner of the main supporting feature, the Group Three Preis der Deutscher Einheit. This was Litex Commerce´s homebred Tabera (Gleneagles), who made all the running, setting a furious pace in the early stages and some ten lengths clear at halfway. She was visibly tiring in the closing stages, but still had enough in hand to see off Mark Johnston´s Sky Defender (Farhh) by 1 ¼ lengths, with odds-on favourite Wonderful Moon (Sea the Moon) a never dangerous third. Tabera, whose dam Temida (Oratorio) had won the Group One Grosser Preis von Bayern, had earlier been an easy winner of two listed races and was strongly fancied for the Preis der Diana (Oaks), but had to miss after a setback. According to trainer Miltcho Mintchev Tabera will now move up in trip to contest the race her granddam won, the Grosser Preis von Bayern over 2400 metres, which was then run in August but now more or closes the season in November. She is likely to be opposed there by the first three in the earlier race, Torquator Tasso, Dicaprio and Kaspar, while Grocer Jack is expected to drop down in distance.

There was another Group Three the following day, the 100th Grosser Preis der Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf, and appropriately enough, this centenary edition was won by a locally-trained performer, the 7yo Wonnemond (Areion), back to his best here after some below par efforts. Wonnemond, a 7yo gelding bred by Klaus-Henning Schmoock, trained by Sascha Smcrzek and running in the colours of Stall Frohnbach, has been one of Germany´s top milers for the past four seasons; this was his eleventh win and the fourth at group race level. He was ridden more positively than usual this time and paid a surprising 20-1, while the U.K.-trained odds-on favourite Stormy Antarctic ran a stinker and finished second last.

Back to Longchamp, where the most interesting race on Saturday was the Group One Prix du Cadran over 4000 metres. German-breds, rightly famed for stamina, played a leading role here, and after Alkuin (Maxios), bred by Dr. Christoph Berglar and out of his Preis der Diana winner Almerita (Medicean), made the running and set a strong pace, too strong in fact for most of the opposition who were all well beaten coming into the straight – with one exception, the 5yo mare Princess Zoe (Jukebox Jury), bred by Gestüt Höny-Hof, who set off in pursuit, made up the ground relentlessly and finally put her head in front 30 yards from the line, to complete a fairytale story for trainer Tony Mullins and owners Paddy Kehoe and his sister Philomena.

Princess Zoe is probably the most heartwarming racing story of the year; named after Höny-Hof manager Simon Minch´s daughter, won two minor races in Germany when trained by Stefan Richter, but has really blossomed since being sold to Ireland and this was her fifth successive win and also of course her best. Rated 64 at the start of her winning run in July, she is now rated 112. Her family has so far produces mainly milersd, but her sire Jukebox Jury is certainly an influence for stamina, and indeed is employed as a N.H. stallion nowadays. Paddy Kehoe has apparently backed her to win at Cheltenham next March, but it remains to be seen whether they will really run such a wonderful mare over jumps. At any rate, the result of the Cadran, with the German-bred one-two, was a clear confirmation of the reputation of German thoroughbreds fort stamina.

Stamina was also a major factor in Sunday´s Arc, run on very heavy ground and several runners clearly failed to act in the conditions, including the favourites Enable and Stradivarius. German Derby winner In Swoop had never run on such soft ground before, but his pedigree strongly suggested that he would handle it well enough, and so it proved from it number one draw. Kept to the inside, he was never that far off the steady pace set by Persian King, and came through strongly in the final two furlongs, just going under by a neck to Sottsass (Siyouni), last year´s third.

To be frank, neither the Berlin Group One nor the Arc itself can be regarded as vintage renewals of these historic races. Nevertheless it was extremely encouraging to see the Hamburg Derby runners do so well and one already state that the German Derby this year was one of the highest quality editions of recent years. That in itself is welcome after some previous years when the form completely failed to work out. Incidentally we also saw a strong performance this weekend by 2019 German Derby winner Laccario (Scalo), who was runner-up in the Group One Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park. Trained so far by Andreas Wöhler, he is to stay on in the USA and Graham Motion has taken over the reins.

One name that has cropped up a lot here is Adlerflug, the sire of In Swoop, Torquator Tasso and Dicaprio. A Schlenderhan homebred, he won the German Derby in 2007 and has done really well as a stallion, his previous products including champion Iquitos, Diana winner Lacazar and Group Oner winner Ito, an own brother to In Swoop. After starting his stud career at Harzburg, Adlerflug now stands back at his home Gestüt Schlenderhan. His fee this year was 10,000 euros, but that looks certain to be increased for next year. He leads the German stallion statistics by a large margin and is almost certain to be champion sire this year, taking over from his paternal half-brother Soldier Hollow, champion sire three times in the past five years. Both are sons of In The Wings and the successful results of mating mares from the top German families with Northern Dancer (especially Sadler´s Wells) line stallions have been a notable feature of recent years.

Gestüt Auenquelle, who had such a successful afternoon at Hoppegarten, also enjoyed a very lucrative evening in Paris, when their homebred 3yo filly Virginia Joy (Soldier Hollow) went through the ring as a wild card entry at the Arc sale. fetched an amazing 975,000 euros, easily the oplot of the sale and far more than could have been expected. Peter Brauer, of Panorama Bloodstock, who consigned the filly, reports that there five active bidders and still three as the bidding reached lofty heights. In the end it was Peter Brant of White Birch Farm, also the owner of the following day´s Arc winner Sottsass, who prevailed. It was certainly good timing, as the following day the filly´s own brother Virginia Storm was a narrow winner on his debut, giving his page another update. Virginia Joy was one of the best German fillies this season, running third in the Preis der Diana; her dam Virginia Sun (Doyen) won the Group Three German St. Leger and she had plenty to recommend her. She is now in training with Jean-Claude Rouget and it will be interesting to see if he can squeeze any more improvement out of her. Meanwhile trainer Henk Grewe is reported to have a high opinion of her young brother and he could go next for the prestigious Ratibor-Rennen; Virginia Storm is also entered in the 2021 152nd IDEE Deutsches Derby.

Talking of next year´s German Derby, this weekend´s top race in Germany is the Group Three Preis des Winterfavoriten is traditionally the best German 2yo race; the “Winterfavorit” in the race title implies that the winner here is automatically favourite for next year´s German Derby. Ten have been declared, and surprisingly, half of them are still maidens. The race looks quite open and obviously a surprise result is quite possible. The two that look the most likely candidates in the opinion of this writer are Henk Grewe´s Juanito (Zoffany), just touched off in Baden-Baden´s Zukunftsrennen, and Markus Klug´s Sampras (Iffraaj), an impressive winner on his debut at Dortmund. We shall see what happens and analyse this race here next week.

David Conolly-Smith

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