Ausgabe 376 vom Donnerstag, 16.07.2015
The most interesting race from the German point of view this week was the Group Two Prix Maurice de Nieuil, the main supporting feature on the Bastille Day card at Longchamp. Two of the six runners in this race for older horses over one and three-quarters miles were German-bred, and in a desperate finish they took the first two places, Gestüt Aesculap's Walzertakt (Montjeu) rallying strongly in the final stages to get back up and defeat Bathyrhon (Monsun) by a short head.
The winner was bred by Gestüt Schlenderhan but sold privately to his present owner. He is a half-brother to Wiener Walzer (Dynaformer), who won the Deutsches Derby for Schlenderhan in 2009 and is now standing at nearby Gestüt Erftmühle, and also Walzertraum (Rahy), winner of the Bavarian Classic. Wiener Walzer, who still belongs to Schlenderhan, had his first runner recently – American Queen won first time out, a very promising start. The third dam Prudent Girl (Primera) herself bred two Group One winners and was a half-sister to champion Hethersett.
Walzertakt has had a very unusual career so far, as he did not run at all until he was five years of age. After three very nondescript starts, he won a modest handicap last September at Baden-Baden, followed by a slightly better handicap at Cologne three weeks later. He then ran third in the listed Silbernes Band, Germany´s longest flat race. It was clear by now that his forte lay in long distance races. This season he was third in the Oleander-Rennen at Hoppegarten, one of Germany´s best staying events, but was well beaten in a listed race in Chantilly next time, and his victory on Tuesday was a total surprise on all known form – as can be seen by the win dividend of 31-1. This win over some of France´s best stayers clearly opens up new possibilities; he is amazingly improved - If we take his handicap rating from his first win, only ten months ago, he would seem to have improved about 80 pounds since then!- and can possibly improve further. The Irish St.Leger is now on the agenda.
The Longchamp runner-up Bathyrhon was conceding weight and comes out as the best horse in the race at the weights. He gives the form a solid look, as he is clearly one of the best French stayers right now, and was a neck second in the Prix du Cadran last year. He was bred by Irmgard and Dieter Meinke, who race under the name Stall Sorpresa and have had great success with this family. Banyumanik (Pegugino) was Germany´s top miler around the turn of the century, winning three group races, while his half-sister Banyu Dewi (Poliglote) was a top two-year-old here before being sold to the States, where she was also a winner; she then threw several useful performers, notably Brigantin (Cozzene), a top stayer who was placed third in both the Cadran and the Gold Cup. Their dam Bennetta (Top Vile) is a half-sister to Bathyrhon's dam Be My Lady (Be My Guest).
This result of course strengthens the generally-held view that German-breds are late developers who stay extremely well. Obviously there is something to us, after all Monsun sired the winners of the Gold Cup, Prix du Cadran and Melbourne Cup (twice) in his long and glorious career. However it should not be forgotten that he was also the sire of Manduro, a champion two-year-old who went on to become a world champion at middle distances, and champion miler Maxios, who was also a group winner as a juvenile.
That is does not always work out this way can be seen from the example of Walter Häcker's homebred Wild Chief (Doyen), an easy winner of the top race in Germany last weekend, the Group Two Meilen-Trophy at Hanover. Wild Chief, who had been bought back for 18,000 euros at the BBAG yearling sale, is bred like a stayer. His sire Doyen, one of the best sons of Sadler's Wells and winner of the King George, is now a N.H. sire at Sunnyhill Stud in Ireland, but he earlier stood for three years at Gestüt Auenquelle. His dam was classic-placed while his second dam was by Mill Reef out of a Levmoss mare. Wild Chief's dam Wild Angel, a half-sister to two black type performers, was out of an Acatenango mare while the next two dams are by Platini and Top Ville respectively. No shortage of stamina there.
The complete race video, photos and full result here (under "Renndetails"/Wild Chief/No. 5: Klick!
Last year Wild Chief ran really well when fourth in the Prix du Jockey Club and followed up with a fifth place in the German Derby; in that race he would have finished closer had he not chased the easy winner Sea The Moon for much of the way. His final two starts in 2014 were in the Preis von Europe and Grosser Preis von Bayern, both Group One races over a mile and a half, and he finished fifth in both. But trainer Jens Hirschberger had misgivings: “he is bred like a stayer, he works like a stayer,” he said, “but he does not run like a stayer.”
So the decision was taken to bring him back in distance – and last Sunday´s result shows that it was the right move. All his three starts this year have been over a mile, and after a good second place to the useful Guiliani at Cologne and a fourth place in a well-contested Group Three at Chantilly, he finally showed his true ability with this Hanover success, beating some useful yardsticks very easily. If this form is taken literally, Wild Chief is just about the best miler in Germany, especially if one considers that the top three-year-old miler Karpino (Cape Cross), impressive winner of the German 2,000 Guineas and apparently now recovering well from the slight setback that prevented his running in the German Derby, is expected to tackle longer distances from now on. Baden-Baden's Oettingen-Rennen would be the obvious target now for Wild Chief, but connections are reportedly also thinking about the Breeders Cup Mile later in the year.