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The English Page: Racing & Breeding in Germany 27

Winner of the prestigious "Preis des Winterfavoriten": Isfahan and Umberto Rispoli with Andreas Wöhler - breeder and trainer. ©Dr. Jens Fuchs


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 389 vom Donnerstag, 15.10.2015

Ravensberg trainer Andreas Wöhler has such an outstanding record in Germany's top races that it comes as quite a surprise to realise that until last Sunday he had never won the prestigious Preis des Winterfavoriten at Cologne, the local equivalent of the Racing Post Trophy, and a race which, as the name suggests, is intended to supply the early favourite for next season's Deutsches Derby. This does not of course always work out, and in fact Lavirco (Königsstuhl) in 1995 was the last horse to win both races.

It is also a very bad race for favourites, but Wöhler must still have fancied his chances with two runners in the field of eight, Noor Al Hawa (Makfi), in the colours of his biggest owner Jaber Abdullah, and Darius Racing's Isfahan (Lord of England), who had made an eye-catching debut when fourth at Dortmund three weeks previously. The former was generally regarded as the best juvenile seen so far in Germany this season after an impressive win at Düsseldorf a month ago and would certainly have started a hot favourite, but he started coughing in the run-up to the race and had to be withdrawn.

But luckily for the trainer, Isfahan proved a more than adequate understudy, taking the lead a furlong out and running on well under Italian jockey Umberto Rispoli to record a length and a half victory over Degas (Exceed and Excel) and Guizot (Tertullian). Isfahan had been hampered on the turn into the straight and this was certainly convincing enough, and it must have doubly pleased the trainer, not only because he had finally won the race with his supposed second string, but also because he himself bred the winner, a graduate of the BBAG yearling sale last year when he was sold for 35,000 euros to Holger Faust's HFTB Agency. Faust, whose parents own Gestüt Karlshof, also acts as racing manager of Darius Racing, the nom de course of Munich businessman Dr. Stefan Oschmann.

Isfahan is the fifth foal of Wöhler's mare Independent Miss (Polar Falcon), who never ran but has now delivered five winners, all useful, and has the yearling filly Izzy by Soldier Hollow. Independent Miss's three-year-old Incantator (Areion) has solid listed form and runs on Sunday in a Group Three at Baden-Baden. Although Wöhler himself seems to consider that Noor Al Hawa is still his best two-year-old, Isfahan is clearly smart and could possibly run next in a French Group One. His third dam Indica (Athenagoras) won the Group One Aral-Pokal, and this is a family which traces back to the French mare Yonne (1936 by Indus), whose descendants have done extremely well in Germany and especially for Gestüt Schlenderhan, last year's dual Group One winner Ivanhowe (Soldier Hollow) and this year´s Group Two winner Ito (Adlerflug) among them. 

The complete race video, photos and full result here (under "Renndetails"/Isfahan/No. 4: click

The other significant race last Sunday at Cologne was the Silbernes Band, Germany's longest flat race at 3850 metres, and this was won cosily by Kirsten Rausing's mare Alwinda (Hernando), trained in Newmarket by Sir Mark Prescott. Alwinda, whose dam Albanova (Alzao) won three Group Ones in Germany for the same owner and trainer, was winning her first black type race and is now obviously well qualified to join Ms Rausing´s broodmare herd at Lanwades Stud. Wasir (Rail Link), another runner for Darius Racing and Andreas Wöhler, was runner-up here, but Alwinda stayed on best and was always holding him.

This weekend the action switches to Baden-Baden for the Sales & Racing Festival, with racing today (Friday), followed by the first session of the mixed sale this evening, the sale continuing all day Saturday with a stallion parade on Sunday morning, and then racing again on Sunday. The main races are for two-year-olds – Friday's Ferdinand Leisten-Memorial, a BBAG sales race over seven furlongs which with200,000 euros in prize-money is the richest juvenile race of the German season, and Sunday's Preis der Winterkönigin, the fillies´ pendant to the Preis des Winterfavoriten. Andreas Wöhler has runners in both races and it would be no surprise to see him improve his already fantastic season. The trainer himself will be in Milan on Sunday, where he saddles another of his star two-year-olds, Jaber Abdullah's Royal Shaheen (Myboycharlie) in the Gran Criterium.

David Conolly-Smith

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