Ausgabe 719 vom Freitag, 20.05.2022
It has been another good week for the Schlenderhan-bred Adlerflug (In The Wings), but sadly a posthumous one, as the 2007 German Derby winner died suddenly of a heart attack at Easter last year after covering a mare. He was already on the way to becoming a sire of major international importance – he had had the first two in the 2020 German Derby, which had created quite a ripple - and he has since gone on to further glory. The winner of that race, In Swoop, went on to finish runner-up in the Arc, while the Derby second from 2020 Torquator Tasso won that Longchamp race last year, and is likely to make his 2022 debut next week at Baden-Baden. Adlerflug was champion sire in Germany for the past two seasons; this is all the more remarkable as his foreign winnings (e.g. 2.9 million euros for the Arc winner!) do not count in the German statistics.
Prior to Torquator Tasso´s arrival, Adlerflug´s best products had been Iquitos, winner of three Group Ones and twice German Horse of the Year, Preis der Diana winner Lacazar and another Group One winner Ito. It is clear that he imparts a great deal of stamina to his offspring, and we saw this again last Sunday at Hoppegarten when his 4yo son Loft won the Group Two Oleander-Rennen over two miles, Germany´s top race fort stayers – but more of that later.
So far Adlerflug has not had many winners – and only a few runners - over jumps, but this might be about to change. Earlier this week retired trainer Henrietta Knight paid 200,000 GBP at Goffs in Doncaster for an Adlerflug “store” horse (i.e. one who is reserved for a later career over jumps), believed to be the highest price ever in the U.K. for a 3yo in this category. The horse in question, named Ingraban, is closely related to Iquitos, and was a 19,000 euros yearling purchase at the BBAG October sale in 2020. Knight explained that she was buying Ingraban for high-spending owner Mike Grech, for whom she acts as racing manager.
Knight, who saddled Best Mate to win three Cheltenham Gold Cups in her training career, has a tall reputation and in interviews at the sale was extremely complimentary about German bloodstock in general and Adlerflug in particular, even though she admitted that she had never seen him in the flesh. She described him as a “flashy chestnut with four white legs” and said “I´ve seen pictures of him (Adlerflug) and I liked what I saw……I like the German pedigrees, they are strong and they are strict with their breeding.” So far German breeding in N.H. racing has been dominated by sons of Monsun – two of whom, Getaway and Shirocco, also saw products fetch very high prices this week but Adlerflug, so far mainly known for top class performers on the flat, certainly adds a new interest. He is completely free of Monsun and is in fact inbred 3x4 to Northern Dancer and 4x4 to Mill Reef, names not usually found in N.H. pedigrees, and any high profile success for Ingraban, or indeed any other N.H. runner sired by Adlerflug, would certainly prove to be very significant fort German breeding. Adlerflug´s small final crop are now foals; he never covered huge books, but there are plenty more Adlerflugs to come in the next few years and we hope for more major successes.
Adlerflug had a minor winner yesterday (Wednesday) In Strasbourg, but the victory of Loft in Hoppegarten was of course far more important. The Oleander-Rennen, earlier known as the Betty Barclay-Rennen and run at the Baden-Baden Spring Meeting, has now found a new home at Hoppegarten and is the centrepiece of their Irish Race Day; it is now sponsored by Luke Comer International, an Irish property and construction company whose European HQ is situated in Berlin. Luke Comer himself owns and trains his own horses at his stable in Co. Meath. He always has runners in his race, and won it himself with Raa Atoll in 2019. He had two runners again this year, but they played no role and were well beaten. Loft, a 4yo, had been gelded last year as he was getting a bit frisky, according to his trainer Marcel Weiss, and has showed much improvement since. He won a listed race over a trip during Baden-Baden´s Grosse Woche and then finished runner-up in both the German St. Leger and the Silbernes Pferd at Hoppegarten over 3000 metres. He was therefore not only one of the few runners guaranteed to get the distance, but also the highest-rated runner and the obvious form choice.
Loft was narrowly favoured in the betting, paying just over 3-1, while the supplemented Nubius (Dylan Thomas), Dolcetto (Gleneagles) and Diamantis (Golden Horn), from last year´s winning stable, were all fancied as well. Loft, ridden with great confidence by Rene Piechulek, even though it was his first race for over half a year, was always close up as stable companion Noa Lea (Jukebox Jury) made the running at a steady pace. Dolcetto took over in the straight, but Loft always had him in his sights and wore him down to lead a furlong out and score by half a length, with Diamantis running on well for third, a length and a half further back. It was more workmanlike than impressive, but Loft won it comfortably enough in the end and will almost certainly improve further.
Loft is certainly bred to stay middle distances at least, and is a member of the Ittlingen family that has already produced three winners of the German Derby, Lando, Laroche and Laccario. Trainer Marcel Weiss indicated later that he could bring Loft back to mile and a half events later in the year, giving him far more options. The going was good to firm, which clearly did not bother Loft in the slightest, and Weiss was not prepared to claim that Adlerflug´s progeny need soft or heavy ground to show their best form, remembering Torquator Tasso´s Arc victory last year after heavy rain. Loft, assuming he will come on for this first run of the year, looks a good prospect for the rest of this season at distances of twelve furlongs plus. One problem for Weiss will be to keep him apart from stable star Torquator Tasso, but that does not look insoluble.
Looking forward now to this weekend´s racing and clearly the best race is the 37th running of the Mehl-Mülhens-Rennen at Cologne on Sunday, the German equivalent of the 2,000 Guineas. On the whole one can safely say that German racing is not famous for its milers, and this race has been repeatedly won by foreign raiders, ten times this century so far, and nine of these winners were trained in the U.K. There were no foreign runners in 2020 and 2021, for obvious reasons, but there are 3 runners from the U.K. this time, and all would appear to have chances.
The Wizard of Eye (Galileo Gold), trained by Stan Moore, is actually the highest-rated of this trio, but that is because he has been running in better races, including in the Newmarket version of this race, in which he finished 11th of 15, beaten about 9 lengths. He won at Newbury last season, but basically looks exposed, and with all due respect, we prefer the other two U.K. runners. Newmarket trainer William Haggas has won this race twice and now sends the unbeaten Maljoom (Caravaggio); he did not run last year but in 2022 has won minor events at Doncaster and Kempton (a.w.); this of course is a huge step up in class, but he clearly has potential and is probably better than his rating suggests. Hugo Palmer also has a good striking rate in German 3yo races and from his new stable sends Mr. McCann (Kodiac), who is owned by a group of Liverpool footballers. He has some good form to his credit, but ran feebly last time in the Dee Stakes at Chester, where he weakened quickly after making most of the running. He will be partnered by James Doyle, his regular pilot, who earlier this month brought off the Newmarket Guineas double.
The main trial for this race is usually Krefeld´s Dr. Busch-Memorial, and five of the eight local hopes ran there, including the first two the filly Mylady and the fast-finishing Schwarzer Peter (Neatico), both trained by Markus Klug. The trainer continues in great form, and currently leads the German statistics by a clear margin, both in terms of number of races won and prize-money. Stable jockey Andrasch Starke has once again chosen to partner Gestüt Karlshof´s homebred filly and she is likely to start favourite. Peter Schiergen has three entered, with his main jockey on Rocchigiani (Time Test), a well-beaten sixth in the Dr. Busch, but reported to have come on a lot for that race; in theory he should not beat his stable companion Georgias (Poet´s Voice), third then, but the jockey probably knows better. The one to beat on form is obviously Mylady, but this column predicts another British victory.