Ausgabe 661 vom Freitag, 26.03.2021
It looks as if the long winter is finally over and the turf season is now under way. Last Sunday we had the first turf fixture of 2021 in Germany, a low level affair in Krefeld, but with two interesting 3yo winners (see below) while we also had the first group race on grass of the season at Saint-Cloud – the Prix Exbury, in which German raider Grocer Jack finished a respectable fourth, and there was also racing at the Curragh, while this weekend Doncaster will mark the traditional start of the season in the U.K. with two listed races and the Lincoln Handicap, a reference to the fact that this meeting was originally held at the now defunct Lincoln Racecourse, which began operations in 1763 and closed down in 1964. The meeting traditionally starts with the Brocklesby Stakes, the first 2yo race of the season in England, and although it is very early in the year, it has been won by some decent performers, such as Hearts of Fire (Firebreak), who won it in 2009; he went on to score at Deauville, then won the Zukunfts-Rennen at Baden-Baden, followed by the Group One (then) Gran Criterium in Milan.
In Germany we have next week, at the Easter weekend, racing at Hoppegarten on Sunday and Cologne on Monday, both with listed races and high class racing then really gets under way. This coming weekend we only have racing at Düsseldorf on Sunday, but with all due respect, the card is rather weak and four of the ten races have only six runners (if they all show up!). Krefeld last Sunday was also relatively weak, but the two 3yo races that opened the card were certainly of interest. The 1400 metres race was won by Gestüt Park Wiedingen´s homebred filly Dibujaba., trained by Peter Schiergen and was a first victory for him by his new stable jockey Bauryzhan Murzabayev. Dibujaba (Soldier Hollow) made all the running and had plenty in hand to hold off the challenge of Henk Grewe´s New Kid in Town, another Soldier Hollow product. The winner´s dam Dhaba (Areion) was a top 2yo, winning the Preis der Winterkönigin, and is from the family of Group One performers Dschinghis Secret and Destino. Dibujaba had already shown useful form last year, being placed on all three starts, including in a listed race; she looks unlikely to stay much beyond a mile, and is entered in the German 1,000 Guineas, probably her main target for 2021.
Schiergen also saddled the hot favourite for the 2050 metres race, but Gestüt Haus Zoppenbroich´s, Liban (Protectionist) was a slight disappointment, finishing only third. This race was also won by a horse that made all the running, in this case Henk Grewe´s Quality Time (Amaron), also bred by Gestüt Haus Wiedingen and a 36,000 euros BBAG yearling. His dam Quintessa (Shirocco) is a three parts sister to the Group Two winner Quelle Amore (Monsun). This is a good family but Quality Time is rather surprisingly not entered in the German Derby, although Grewe has plenty of other possibilities in that classic; he does have an entry for the Italian Derby, but according to the trainer he will run next in Hoppegarten´s Derby trial, which is run the same day as the Rome classic.
Obviously at this early stage of the season it is hard to say what the form is worth, and it may well be that the opposition to these two winners was weak and that they in effect beat nothing. Schiergen and Grewe have both had several winners in France already this year and are quite clearly two of the most powerful trainers in Germany; they will probably be bringing out stronger classic hopes before too long, as will Markus Klug and Andreas Wöhler, who have not shown their hands so far and usually take their time with prospective classic candidates. Markus Klug did however have a well bred winner at Krefeld on Sunday, the 4yo gelding Worrick (Kamsin), who finally got off the mark by winning a poor handicap under bottom weight. Bred by Gestüt Röttgen, Worrick is a half-brother to two German Derby winners bred by Röttgen, but has very little of their ability and now runs in the colours of Just4turf, a group of young racing enthusiasts.
Racing was of an altogether different calibre at Cheltenham last week, and although there was next to no atmosphere because it all took place behind closed doors, we still saw some excellent performances and thrilling finishes. As predicted here, the most interesting race from the German point of view was Friday´s Triumph Hurdle, the unofficial championship race for 4yo hurdlers. Four of the eight runners were by German sires, and two of them dominated the finish, with the Fährhof-bred Quilixios (Maxios) finally winning easily under the admirable Rachael Blackmore from the Schlenderhan-bred Adagio (Wiener Walzer). Tritonic (Sea The Moon) and Tax For Max (Maxios) finished fifth and sixth. Quilixios is from the family of multiple Group One winner Quijano (Acatenango), while Adagio´s grandam Astilbe (Monsun) was an own sister to Arcadio, who was doing very well as a N.H. sire in Ireland but sadly died last year. Maxios, who also had a good winner on the flat last week in Australia, is now based at Coolmore´s Castlehyde Stud after beginning his stallion career at Fährhof. Several other runners at Cheltenham last week were by sons of Monsun and quite a few of them were placed, but Honeysuckle (out of a Lando mare), impressive winner of the Champion Hurdle, and the also unbeaten Quilixios were the stars of the show as far as we are concerned. They are both trained by Henry de Bromhead and always partnered by his stable jockey Rachael Blackmore but it seems quite likely that we shall see them race against each other next season, possibly even again at Cheltenham.
Next week we shall preview the Easter action in Germany and also have a look back at the Dubai World Cup Meeting and other big races worldwide with German participation.