The English Page - Maximum Field for the German Oaks
Last Sunday´s Group One Grosser Dallmayr-Preis was according to the official ratings the best race run in Germany so far this year. It is any case easily the best race over the trip of ten furlongs, and this latest edition certainly lived up to expectations despite the small field. Three of the seven runners were trained abroad, itself a novelty this year when travel is so complicated; Barney Roy (Excelebration) and Spotify (Redoute´s Choice) are both owned by Godolphin and trained by Charlie Appleby in Newmarket, while the supplemented Patrick Sarsfield (Australia) was the first runner ever in Germany for Irish trainer Joseph O'Brien.
The race took on a new aspect after unexpectedly heavy showers in the morning turned the ground soft, which was generally felt to be a disadvantage for the two Godolphins, but Barney Roy, who came into the race with the highest rating and also with the best recent form – an excellent third place in Royal Ascot´s Prince of Wales´s Stakes – still started as hot favourite at even money. Next in the betting was the much-improved Patrick Sarsfield, winner of his last four races, while of the German-trained runners, the only two seriously supported were Peter Schiergen´s 4yo filly Durance (Champs Elysees) and locally-trained Quest The Moon (Sea The Moon).
Charlie Appleby had stressed that Spotify was running on his own merits and not as a pacemaker for Barney Roy, but it was still expected that he would make the running. He intended to as well, as James Doyle jumped him smartly out of the gate, but longshot Naida (Reliable Man) quickly went on. Spotify stayed with her and the pair set a good pace. They were some eight lengths clear of the remaining five runners as the field reached the far turn, but once in the straight, the pair was quickly swallowed up as the race began in earnest.
Durance was the first to take the lead a furlong and a half out, but she was quickly challenged by Barney Roy on her inside, on whom William Buick was hard at work, and Patrick Sarsfield on the outside, with Quest the Moon also well in contention. Quest The Moon looked briefly like winning, but Barney Roy, who had been last of all coming into the straight, was by now in top gear and collared him 100 yards out to hold his renewed challenge and win gamely by a neck. Patrick Sarsfield kept on well to deprive Durance of third place, one and a quarter lengths further back, while Quest the Moon´s stable companion Wai Key Star (runner-up in this race last year) was a never dangerous fifth, while the two front-runners dropped out and took the last two places. There was only about a length and a half between the four main protagonists at the line
It was certainly an exciting race, and Charlie Appleby was full of praise for the gutsy performance of his winner. “You could see from a long way out that Barney Roy was unhappy on the soft ground. It was his class and courage that won the race. We shall probably send him now to Australia, where the going should be more in his favour.” The likely target is the Cox Plate, a race in which both the previous two Dallmayr winners also ran; but while 2018 winner Benbatl, also a Godolphin, but trained by Saeed bin Suroor, finished an excellent runner-up to the outstanding Winx, the 2019 winner Danceteria flopped, as he did in all his five races down under.
The German handicapper has left Barney Roy, who was winning his fourth Group One, on 116 (German GAG 98), and has slightly raised both Quest the Moon and Durance; this seems reasonable, as they both ran their best race ever, and Barney Roy is a class performer, even when the going is against him as here. Patrick Sarsfield confirmed his dramatic improvement since being gelded, but is nevertheless down a pound. Obviously we would like to see Barney Roy run well in the Cox Plate to boost the form, while Sarah Steinberg, trainer of Quest the Moon and Wai Key Star, stated that the former will now go for the Grosser Preis von Baden and has also been entered for the Arc.
Steinberg also has a fancied runner in this weekend´s big race, the Group One Preis der Diana (German Oaks) at Düsseldorf. This race, which still has its original prize-money of 500,000 euros, has attracted a maximum field of 16 runners; that is the limit at this rather tight track, and there would have been more than 20 runners otherwise, but those with the lowest ratings had to be eliminated. There are four foreign runners, two from France and one each from Ireland and England, and they all look dangerous. The French runners, Moon a Lisa and Tickle Me Green are both daughters of Sea The Moon, both trained by Francis-Henri Graffard and both bred by Gestüt Görlsdorf. Tickle Me Green still runs in their colours and will be partnered by Ronan Thomas; as the Graffard/ Thomas team has already won the German Derby this season, she must clearly be respected. Last time out she finished very fast from a long way back to win a listed race at Vichy. Moon a Lisa has been sold, will run in the colours of Samuel de Barros and will be partnered by world class jockey Olivier Peslier. She was just beaten last time in a very close finish to a listed race at Longchamp. It is hard to say which of the two Graffard runners is the stronger. Görlsdorf have another runner in the race with Snow (Sea The Moon), trained by Markus Klug and to be partnered by Maxim Pecheur, who won the race last year. Possibly the Irish contender, Jessie Harrington´s Silence Please (Gleneagles) can beat them all; after winning both starts last year and her first run in 2020, she then finished third in the Navan Oaks Trial to Even So, who then went on to win the Irish Oaks, so the form is solid enough.
The U.K. raider Miss Yoda (Sea The Stars) is a very rare runner in Germany for champion trainer John Gosden and will be ridden by a jockey with an even higher profile than Olivier Peslier- Frankie Dettori. She is owned by Georg von Opel and was bred by Gestüt Etzean. She was one of the most expensive lots at the BBAG Yearling Sale 2018, selling for 280,000 euros to Tom Goff. She started off last year by easily winning her first two races, but has found life tough since being campaigned in much stronger events. Last time out she was well beaten in a Group Three race at Newmarket. Normally that form would not suffice here, but it looks as if she has been aimed at this race so must be taken very seriously. However the Gosden/ Dettori team has been so successful in recent years – and even this week as well!- that she is likely to start at an unrealistically short price. However she may not be a good bet at the likely odds.
As far as the betting is concerned, this race looks wide open. While the four foreign fillies are all prominent in the market, RaceBets has Virginia Joy (Soldier Hollow) and Zamrud (Samum) – Steinberg´s runner- as favourites. They finished first and second, in that order, but in a photo, in a Hamburg Group Three last time and there obviously is little between them. Zamrud possible needs ease in the ground, which at the time of writing looks unlikely. With 16 runners at Düsseldorf the race could well be decided by luck in running, which is always difficult to predict.