Ausgabe 393 vom Donnerstag, 12.11.2015
There was certainly a case of déjà vu about the results of the main races at Krefeld last Sunday, the last two group races of the German season. First, Prince Franz von Auersperg's homebred Parthenius (Soldier Hollow) won the last big juvenile event of the year, the Herzog von Ratibor-Rennen, following in the hoofprints of his own brother Pastorius, who took this race for the same connections in 2011 en route to winning the following season's Deutsches Derby and a year after that the Prix Ganay.
Then an hour later Frank Maria van Gorp's Vif Monsieur (Doyen) ran out an absurdly easy winner of the Niederrhein-Pokal for the second year running, going well clear in the final quarter mile to win by nine lengths. The owner is Belgian and more usually associated with trotting, but he has struck it rich with this five-year-old, who has now won him seven races, including four Group Threes. He could have been bought very cheaply as a yearling, as he was led out unsold at the big BBAG sale at only 7,500 euros. For a while he was trained by his owner, but all his best form is for Düsseldorf trainer Sascha Smrczek and he is always ridden by the young Belgian jockey Koen Clijmans who is also the boyfriend of the owner´s daughter. Vif Monsieur's earller form this season, when with his owner, had been poor but he obviously enjoyed his return to Düsseldorf and was also well suited by the very soft ground; “he is a real spring and autumn specialist,” reported his trainer.
While his owner is Belgian, the connections of Parthenius – his trainer Mario Hofer and owner Prince von Auersperg - are Austrian, although they have both been based in Germany for most of their lives. Pastorius went on to prove himself one of the very best German performers of recent seasons and is now standing at Gestüt Fährhof. His young brother still has quite a way to go before he can reach the same heights, but it is by no means out of the question as his trainer considers that he is a much slower developer and that there is a lot of improvement to come. He only just scrambled home on Sunday, getting up in the final stride to defeat Gestüt Röttgen's homebred El Loco (Lope de Vega) by a nose, the pair of them finishing well clear.
This result was the start of a great weekend for his sire Soldier Hollow, as a few minutes later Willie Mullins' Arctic Fire won the Group Two Lismullen Hurdle at Navan, while the following day Paul Nicholls' Silsol was a convincing winner of a chase at Carlisle. There is nothing German about Soldier Hollow's pedigree as he was bred by Car Colston Hall Stud in Nottinghamshire and bought by Gestüt Park Wiedingen as a yearling for 75,000 guineas at Tattersalls. Unusually for a stallion standing in Germany, he is inbred to Northern Dancer but seems to go extremely well with more traditionally bred German mares – the dam of Parthenius and Pastorius is a daughter of Monsun.
Soldier Hollow is one of the best sons of In The Wings and was himself a top class and very tough performer, winning four Group Ones and also defeating Manduro in the Group two Prix Dollar. He is now the most expensive stallion in Germany at 15,000 euros, a bargain by international standards. Arctic Fire and Silsol are both members of his first crop, which also included another German champion in Ivanhowe, a half-brother to Irving, another big hurdles winner last weekend, taking the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in excellent style for Paul Nicholls. Talking of bargains – Arctic Fire cost only 3,000 euros when sold as a yearling at BBAG, although his price had gone up quite considerably by the time he reached the Mullins yard.
Soldier Hollow began his stud career at Röttgen but is now based at Auenquelle, where Doyen (Sadler's Wells) also stood in his German days – he is now covering N.H. mares at the Sunnyhill Stud in Co. Kildare, but did extremely well during his brief stallion career in Germany, siring among others this year´s Preis der Diana winnerTurfdonna. However this year´s champion sire in Germany is certain to be Areion (Big Shuffle), who leads by a clear margin; he was also based for a time at Auenquelle, but is now back at Evershorst.
There are only four more meetings this year on turf in Germany – Bremen and Frankfurt this weekend, Dresden next Wednesday and Bremen again a fortnight later. The only black type race is at Dresden, but this looks a rather low key affair, and Frankfurt's card this Sunday could be interesting. The standard of racing is nothing special, but the day could be highly symbolic and it looks as if it will be the last day´s racing ever at Frankfurt - after 152 years. The German Football Association (DFB) has agreed with the city authorities to lease the land and turn it into an academy of “football excellence”. This is controversial, as it is clear that the city has ridden roughshod over existing agreements and this could all still end up in court. The city is now planning to evict the race club at the end of the year, but this will be strongly opposed. A year ago one would not have given a penny for the racecourse´s chances, as football is God in this country, especially after the World Cup victory in Brazil, but the mood has changed and the DFB is now getting an extremely bad press because of many allegations of corruption and tax evasion, so it is possible that the track could still be saved.
The racing itself will not be of huge interest, and this also applies to the remaining turf meetings this year, which will be followed by three months of low level sport from the sand tracks at Neuss andDortmund. This, with all due respect, is only of minor interest and therefore this English page will be the last of 2015 in Turf Times. We hope to be back next April for the early black type races and classic trials in 2016 in Germany.