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The English page - Juveniles in the centre of interest

The "Winterfavorit" Fantastic Moon (l.) www.galoppfoto.de - Stephanie Gruttmann


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 740 vom Freitag, 14.10.2022

This is the time of year when the main interest in the racing world switches to the 2yo´s and, it is hoped, classic prospects for next year. The German calendar is always about a month behind other leading European nations and this applies even more to the juveniles than to the older horses. In France we have races for 2yo´s in the early spring, in England the Brocklesby Stakes at the Doncaster meeting in late March is the traditional start of the flat season in the U.K. The race has been run in its present form since 1875 (originally at Lincoln) and It has often been won by performers who went on to prove themselves among the best of their crop. This season the winner Persian Force (Mehmas) went on to be placed in top races at Royal Ascot, Newmarket and Deauville. We remember Hearts of Fire (Firebreak), the 2009 winner, who finished the season by winning the Group One (then) Gran Criterium at Milan, taking in Baden-Baden´s Zukunfts-Rennen on the way.

In Germany things start much later and there are hardly any 2yo races at all before July, while the emphasis is firmly on the autumn. The Zukunfts-Renne, during the Grosse Woche, is the first major event and has been won repeatedly by more precocious types trained in the U.K. or France, although, Gestüt Fährhof´s homebred Habana (Kingman) won the latest renewal. Habana later flopped in the Group One Prix Marcel Boussac, one of two Group One races for juveniles run at Longchamp on Arc day, but that was mainly due to the very soft going. The top 2yo races at Newmarket and The Curragh have already been run, but last week we had the Group Three Preis des Wnterfavoriten over a mile at Cologne, often seen as the top race for the crop in Germany, although in recent seasons it has often been outdone by Krefeld´s Ratibor-Rennen, which is not run until mid-November, when their contemporaries in the U.K., France or Ireland are already enjoying their winter break.

The race title, Preis des WInterfavoriten, implies that the winner will spend the winter as antepost favourite for the German Derby at the beginning of next season´s July. This is in fact no longer the case. The race has only been won once this century by a subsequent German Derby winner, Isfahan (Lord of England) in 2015, and there have been far more winners of the Garman 2,000 Guineas, run over the same CD in May. However there have undoubtedly been some really first class winners, such as Lando (Acatenango) in 1992. We hope very much that the latest winner, Stall Liberty Racing 2021´s Fantastic Moon (Sea The Moon) emulates him, but it is a long road to the Derby.  He is trained in Munich by Sarah Steinberg and was ridden by her real life partner Rene Piechulek – the current “dream team” of German racing.

He has been installed as 14-1 favourite for Hamburg next July, but we would be in no hurry to take that price. This is in no way to denigrate his performance – he won the race well – but it is simply too far in the future – the race does not even close until November 2nd. One positive feature in his favour is that he looks certain on pedigree to stay the Derby distance. He was bred by Stauffenberg Bloodstock and was a 49,000 euros BBAG yearling. He was bought by Lars-Wilhelm Baumgarten for his syndicate Liberty Racing 2021 and is by the 2014 German Derby winner Sea The Moon (Sea The Stars) out of a mare by Jukebox Jury. Syndicates have become very popular in recent years and are clearly the way forward for German racing. This syndicate has 20 members, and includes several well-known racing characters, including Deutscher Galopp boss Dr. Michael Vesper. Judging by the celebrations after the race, most of the syndicate were at Cologne to cheer their colt home.

The race itself was rather messy, as the jockeys could not agree on where the best ground was to be found. Gaipur made the running at a good pace, but raced very wide. He still had a decent lead coming into the straight, but Fantastic Moon could be seen going well in tnhe centre of the track and he quickened smoothly to lead more than a furlong out. Gaipur´s stable companion See Paris (Counterattack) went in pursuit but had to be switched. He kept on strongly but he never looked like catching Fantastic Moon, whose winning margin was half a length, with the remainder, headed by Arcandi (Zarak) 2½ lengths and more behind. Perhaps See Paris could have got closer with a clearer run, but Fantastic Moon was clearly the best horse in the race and won on merit. He had won his only earlier start, a modest maiden at Munich, and now goes into winter quarters unbeaten and with a generous rating of GAG 94 (= 108 international). The form looks solid enough; See Paris, who could run in Milan´s Gran Criterium next week, had on his previous start been runner-up to Habana at Baden-Baden, while Arcandi had also won his only previous race.

This weekend we have the Sales & Racing Festival at Baden-Baden, with racing on Friday and Sunday and the mixed sale starting after racing on Friday and continuing all day Saturday. The two main events are both  2yo races, the Ferdinand Leisten-Memorial over 1400 metres tomorrow ( Friday) and the Group Three Preis der Winterkönigin (the fillies´ equivalent to the Preis des Winterfavoriten) over a mile on Sunday. The former race is a BBAG sales race worth 100,000 euros to the winner and is thus the most valuable event of the year for 2yo´ s in Germany, while the latter race has a winner´s purse of 85,000 euros. However in terms of prestige it is the better race. It is sponsored by the BBAG, but with their own money, while the former race is mainly financed by the consignors at the sales. This is not an ideal situation, but certainly not only in German racing. The richest 2yo race in Europe is the Goffs Million, run a fortnight ago at The Curragh, and this year actually worth one and a quarter million euros because of the huge entry, all of them graduates (or at least catalogued) in the big Goffs Yearling Sal

Still, we can certainly assume that the winner will have to be pretty good, and both races have large and competitive fields. 12 run in the Ferdinand Leisten-Memorial; Gestüt Ebbesloh won it last year with Georgios (Poet´s Voice) and the form has worked out well enough. The same owner-breeder has a good chance of scoring again with Waldeza (Lord of England), representing the Steinberg/ Piechulek team. The dangers could be Markus Klug´s Postman (Soldier Hollow), or possibly Marcel Weiss´ Vintage Moon, who can continue the great run of his sire Sea The Moon. The Winterkönigin (“Winter Queen”) has 11 runners and looks wide open. Markus Klug has another good chance with Empore (Oasis Dream), but Andreas Suborics´ Quantanamera (Lope de Vega) and Peter Schiergen´s Tamarinde (Amaron) are also on the short list.

David Conolly-Smith

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