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The English page - Polish winner in Baden

New "wonderhorse" Va Bank, Martin Seidl on board. www.galoppfoto.de


Daniel Delius


Ausgabe 433 vom Donnerstag, 01.09.2016

We are two thirds of the way through the “Grosse Woche“ at Baden-Baden, as usual the most important German meeting of the year, and there is plenty to report. The main event last Saturday ended with the convincing victory of Irish-bred and Polish-trained Va Bank (Archipenko) who remains unbeaten after twelve starts. The first eleven races were all in Warsaw, so it was not at all clear what the form was worth, but here he beat the smart Potemkin (New Approach), who had been third in a Group One on his previous start, easily enough with the rest six lengths and more further back, so this was certainly a good performance. He had cost just 4,500 euros as a yearling, partly because he had scars on his leg following an accident. Historians have established that is was the first Polish win in Baden-Baden since before the First World War. Va Bank will now attempt to win Warsaw´s big autumn race for the second time, but could possibly come back to Western Europe for one more start this season.  Connections were almost overcome with emotion and suggested that they would like to come back next year and run him in the Grosser Preis.    

This result was certainly a happy one, however Sunday´s big race ended in bitter controversy. Donnerschlag (Bahamian Bounty) made all the running in the Goldene Peitsche (Golden Whip), Germany´s top sprint race, and was still three-quarters of a length in front at the line. This was easily the best lifetime performance by the six-year-old, who had been twice unplaced in this race before, although he did win Hamburg´s big sprint last year. However he did not keep straight, and after passing the dogleg into the final two furlongs hung markedly to his right, taking Watchable (Pivotal) with him and pushing him out much wider than his jockey intended. Andreas Suborics, on Watchable, kept on riding, but lost third place on the line to the fast-finishing Forgino (It´s Gino) by a neck. This manoeuvre had clearly cost him about a length, so the stewards quickly announced an inquiry, followed by an official objection to the winner, which was upheld. Hamdan al Maktoum´s Markaz (Dark Angel), completely unaffected by all this, came up the centre of the course to go second, and was declared the winner, with Forgino second, Watchable third and the unlucky Donnerschlag placed behind him in fourth.  

This was not a popular decision and was greeted with boos, which were repeated when Paul Mulrennan, rider of Markaz, was presented with the trophy – unjustly, as Mulrennan had nothing to do with the stewards´ inquiry and was clearly embarrassed by the whole affair. Connections of Donnerschlag were of course furious- “I am shocked” said trainer Jean-Pierre Carvalho from Deauville, where he had a few minutes earlier saddled Savoir Vivre (Adlerflug) to win the Grand Prix. He and owner Manfred Hellwig (Gestüt Höny-Hof) have appealed, as has jockey Marc Lerner, who was suspended for four days.  

Donnerschlag was clearly the best horse on the day and deserved to win. In many countries, for example the U.K. and Ireland, he would certainly have kept the race. However the rules in Germany, and also in France, are clear. Donnerschlag´s rightwards drift had cost Watchable third place, and he must therefore be placed behind that horse. It seems extremely likely that the appeals will fail; that is the letter of the law, but flies in the face of natural justice. The wording of the rule is far from ideal, but the stewards have no option but to follow the rules as they are written.

This coming weekend sees more high class sport. Saturday´s main event is the Group Two T. von Zastrow Stutenpreis, a Group Two for fillies and mares over a mile and a half. The two older fillies would appear to have a tough task against the six three-year-olds, headed by the supplemented French runner Apple Betty (Galileo) from the all-conquering Rouget stable. Son Macia (Soldier Hollow) has some good form to her name, but is still a maiden and the other four German fillies are more interesting. They all ran in the Preis der Diana (German Oaks) four weeks ago, with Sarandia (Dansili) second, Kasalla (Soldier Hollow) fourth, Parvaneh (Holy Roman Emperor) fifth and Night Music (Sea The Stars) a disappointing eleventh of sixteen but not in fact beaten very far after not getting a clear run. Logically Sarandia, who looked the likely winner until Serienholde (Soldier Hollow) swooped in the final furlong, should again come out of top.    

If Sarandia, a homebred of Gestüt Fährhof, whose boss Dr. Andreas Jacobs, is also the majority shareholder in Baden Racing, should win, this would be a clear pointer to the chances of her distant relative Serienholde in Sunday´s big race, the Group One Grosser Preis von Baden, usually the best German race of the year. It has attracted a good field this year, with Dylan Mouth (Dylan Thomas) expected by German bookmakers to start favourite. The Italian champion has won eight of his nine starts in his native country, but he has been well beaten in his three starts elsewhere. The five-year-old is now based in Newmarket but there is still an obvious Italian connection, as he is trained by Marco Botti and will be ridden by Andrea Atzeni. He is reported to prefer softer ground than he is likely to find here.

Eight-year-old Meandre (Slickly), a dual Group One winner in Germany in younger years, represents the Czech Republic, while Tiberian (Tiberius Caesar) is a French challenger, but this column expects a home victory. Serienholde is certainly a serious candidate, especially in view of the tremendous stable form of Andreas Wöhler and also the significant weight allowance for three-year-old fillies. Two three-year-old colts are also of major interest – Dschingis Secret (Soldier Hollow), a close third in that controversial finish to the Deutsches Derby, and Boscaccio (Mount Nelson), a beaten favourite for that race when he could not handle the heavy ground, but holding Dschingis Secret on earlier form. The best older horses are Iquitos (Alderflug), who won the big race here at the May meeting, and the filly Nightflower (Dylan Thomas), runner-up in this race a year ago. Both of them have been runner-up to Protectionist this summer, but this top class six-year-old unfortunately misses the race, as he had a muscle problem after winning the Grosser Preis von Berlin last time. It is more than possible that his form will now be boosted by the horses that finished behind him at Hamburg and Hoppegarten.

David Conolly-Smith

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