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The English page - Moral winner?

German 1000 Guineas winner Txope (Aurelien Lemaitre). www.galoppfoto.de - Stephanie Gruttmann


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 723 vom Freitag, 17.06.2022

In the opinion of this writer, there is no such thing as a “moral winner” in horse racing. The winner is the horse that crosses the line in first place, full stop. Of course there are plenty of unlucky losers, and one was certainly Maljoom (Gleneagles) in Tuesday´ s Group One St. James´s Palace Stakes, one of many highlights at this week´s Royal Ascot meeting. Maljoom was of special interest to German racegoers, as he had previously won the Mehl Mülhens-Rennen (German 2,000 Guineas) in good style. The round track at Ascot frequently causes problems for horses that need to be held up, such as Maljoom, who had come from a long way back when winning at Cologne. But as so often is the case, the field was very closely bunched as they came into the straight with all the jockeys wanting to grab the rail, and Maljoom was clearly one of the chief sufferers in the scrimmaging. When he finally got clear, the race was almost over and although he came flying at the finish – he was the fastest of all in the final furlong – he could only finish fourth, beaten less than a length by the Newmarket 2,000 Guineas winner  Coroebus (Dubawi). Was he unlucky?  Yes. Was he the moral winner? No. There is no way of knowing what might have happened had they all had a clear run, and in fact Coroebus was one of several who clearly did not. In any case, this was a good performance by Maljoom and one can certainly claim that he confirmed the form of the Cologne classic.

Fourth place is of course always frustrating, and the German-bred and-trained Novemba (Gleneagles) was also fourth in Wednesday´s Duke of Cambridge Stakes. The Brümmerhof filly, who had won last year´s German 1,000 Guineas, made the running as usual; she was still in front two out, was then overtaken by the subsequent impressive winner Saffron Beach (New Bay), and lost two more places in the final 100 yards. This was still a very decent performance, and the winner must be extremely smart and is quite possibly one of the best milers in Europe; she did in fact win a Group One last year and was as a result giving 5 lbs away all round here. Ascot is a very tough track and front-runners rarely come home on the straight course. Where Novemba goes next is unclear, but she certainly deserves to win a good race. The Prix du Moulin at Longchamp could be a possibility – just a thought.

Her trainer Peter Schiergen has another Royal Ascot runner coming up, Rocchigiani (Time Test) runs in the Jersey Stakes over 7 furlongs on Saturday. He was runner-up to Maljoom in the German Guineas and must have a good chance here.  Other Ascot runners of German interest include Princess Zoe (Jukebox Jury) who runs in the Ascot Gold Cup today (after these lines are written); the Höny-Hof bred mare was runner-up last year and could go close again.

That race needs lots of stamina, and stamina is a quality possessed by many German-breds. We saw this again last week when trainer Marcel Weiss sent the Ittlingen-homebred Loft (Adlerflug) to New York and the four-year-old ran out a very easy winner of the Belmont Gold Cup. He was qualified for this race by winning Hoppegarten´s Oleander-Rennen and collected $220,000 for his efforts. Loft is hugely improved since being gelded last year and is now one of the best two-milers in the world. There are no races for him in Germany, and he will probably have to be campaigned all over the world now, with the Melbourne Cup a distant possibility.

Looking back at the domestic scene now and the best race in Germany last week was Sunday´s German 1,000 Guineas at Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf can be a tricky track, not so much as it is uphill and down dale – any horse that has run well at Lingfield Park or Epsom would have no problems here, but because of the effect of the draw. An outside draw over a mile is a huge disadvantage here. Foreign runners have a good record here with 6 winners in the last 13 years and this time three lined up, two trained in the U.K. and one in France. The British runners Fast Attack (Kodiac) and Jumbly (Gleneagles) were drawn 5 and 11 respectively, which effectively put the latter out of the race, even though she started favourite, while the French raider Txope (Siyouni), owned by footballer Antoine Griezmann, was drawn in stall one. That draw can be risky, you have to jump well, but in the event she had a perfect run up the inside and won comfortably. Gestüt Karlshof´s Mylady (The Grey Gatsby) made up for her Cologne flop by running an excellent race in second, with Park Wiedingen s Dishina (Soldier Hollow) also ran well in third. Fast Attack met traffic problems in the straight and finished fifth, just ahead of Jumbly, who never really got into the race. It will be interesting to see where Txope, a 310,000 euros Arqana yearling, runs next, but Mylady, who ran on strongly and clearly stays further than a mile, is expected to go now for the Deutsches Derby, followed by the Preis der Diana a monthlater.

That Hamburg classic is now only three weeks away. There was a late trial for the race at Düsseldorf on Sunday, in which Stall Nizza´s homebred Nerik (Ruler of the World) ran out a comfortably winner from Lotterbov (Protectionist) and Bukhara (Isfahan); all three are likely to run at Hamburg, where we expect a maximum field of 20. If more than 20 are declared, horses with the lowest official ratings will be eliminated, but these three look certain to qualify, as is fourth-placed Saccary (Nathaniel). Hamburg is a much stiffer track than Düsseldorf, so the Düsseldorf race may have only a minor bearing, but Nerik certainly created a very positive impression.

There is one more last ditch Derby trial to come, and it will be run at Hanover on Sunday. The highest rated runners are Angelino (Isfahan) and Salvatore (Helmet), but we also like the well-bred Zacapo (Fastnet Rock); if any of this trio should win, they will probably get into the Derby field, but to be honest, it does not look to be a very strong trial. Hanover also have a listed sprint race on the card, with four German-trained runners facing three raiders from abroad, while the main race of the weekend is Dortmund´s Group Three Grosser Preis der Wirtschaft over 1800 metres. We are now getting to the time of year when 3yo´s – receiving a lot of weight- can defeat their elders, so we are hoping that Peace Warrior (Speightstown) can strike a blow here for the younger generation.

David Conolly-Smith

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