Ausgabe 597 vom Freitag, 06.12.2019
The main problem of the German racing and breeding industries at the moment is the way that the whole industry has shrunk this century. The Direktorium this week published the fixture list for 2020, which comprises 151 race days, almost all of them on a Sunday or Bank Holiday. Except for the week long meetings at Hamburg and Baden-Baden, there is now virtually no racing on Saturdays (dominated by football for ten months of the year) or midweek. This is the lowest number of race days for many years, and compares to a high of 325 in 1995. This of course reflects the number of horses in training, now about 2,400 compared to over 5,000 in the late 1990s.
This also applies to thoroughbred breeding. It was a real shock to discover that there were only just over 700 live foals reported in Germany this year. The broodmare herd here is generally of high quality, but, to put it simply, the more mares are covered, the higher the likelihood of a foal being born who goes on to Group One glory. Not so long ago German breeders produced such stars as Danedream (bred by Brümmerhof) and Novellist (bred by Dr. Berglar), both winners of the King George and both now Japanese-owned. The last few years have produced nothing of their calibre.
This affects also the stallion population. which at its peak numbered over 120; now there are about 45 thoroughbred stallions standing in Germany. That means, with about 1,000 German mares being covered every year, and quite a significant number visiting stallions in France, the U.K. and Ireland, that the local stallions will cover on average 20 mares each, and a lot of them even fewer. In most cases this can hardly be profitable.
The stallion statistics for 2019 – with no valuable races still to come – show that the same two stallions as in previous years dominate the German season – Soldier Hollow (In the Wings) at Gestüt Auenquelle and Areion (Big Shuffle) at Gestüt Etzean, with the former currently holding a slight lead, followed by Scalo (Lando) and Maxios (Monsun) sire of the Derby winner Laccario and Diana winner Diamanta respectively. The latter pair are now covering N.H. mares and have recently moved – Scalo to Yorton Farm Stud in Shropshire, and Maxios has left Fährhof for Coolmore´s N.H. division at Castlehyde.
Soldier Hollow was bred in England but bought as a yearling for Helmut von Finck (Gestüt Park Wiedingen) and raced throughout in his colours. He has been champion sire here three times and is on course for his fourth championship. He himself was a very tough and consistent performer and has passed on these characteristics to most of his progeny; although he is mainly a flat stallion, he also gets good jumpers, e.g. recent Morgiana Hurdle winner Saldier.
Areion was one of Germany´s best six furlongs performers of the last quarter century, but many of his offspring stay middle distances. He is also noted as a sire of precocious two-year-olds – including Alson and Rubaiyat this season. He will be 25 in 2020 but seems to be as potent as ever. His fee has been raised for 2020, despite his advanced years, to 12,500 euros, while Soldier Hollow, who has for years been the most expensive stallion in Germany, has had his fee – 30,000 euros this year – reduced.
The only other stallion to command a five figure fee is Adlerflug (In The Wings) at exactly 10,000 euros and who stands at Erftmühle. He has had a slightly disappointing season, and needs another star like Iquitos (Horse of the Year in 2016 and 2018) to come along. Iquitos himself stands at Ammerland for 6,000 euros; his first foals are expected in 2020. Ex-Dalham Hall stallion Helmet has stood at Fährhof since last year and his fee now is 8,000 euros. His big star is Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow, but we will not see any of his German produce for a while yet. Protectionist (Monsun), winner of the Melbourne Cup in 2014, stands at Röttgen for 6,000 euros; his first crop yearlings sold well at the BBAG this year.
Of the new stallions for 2020, the two most interesting in my view are two imports – Best Solution (Kodiac), standing at Auenquelle for 6,500 euros and dual French classic winner Brametot (Rajsaman), to stand at Ebbesloh for 6,000 euros. The former was a smart performer for Godolphin, he won the Grosser Preis von Baden and Grosser Preis von Berlin last year, and as the first son of Kodiac to be seen here, should attract plenty of interest, while the latter is closely related to Monsun (Königsstuhl), the most successful German stallion of all time and also a hugely influential broodmare sire (e.g. this year´s Arc winner Waldgeist). Sons of Monsun are standing all over the world, although at the moment Protectionist is his only stallion son in Germany, following Maxios´ departure for Ireland.
Monsun has also acquired a tremendous reputation as a sire of N.H. stallions. Network, standing in France, is sire of Sprinter Sacre, and Shirocco, standing in Ireland, of Annie Power (and also the 2018 German Derby winner Weltstar), two of the most brilliant Cheltenham winners of this century. Getaway, Ocovango and Arcadio are younger sires also excelling in this division. But German breeding has really had a huge worldwide influence in recent years. Among the German-bred and –raced stallions to make an international impact are multiple South African champion Silvano (Lomitas) and 2014 German Derby winner Sea The Moon (Sea The Stars), a leading second season sire in Europe this year, while Novellist (Monsun) has made a good start to his new career in Japan. German bloodlines are going to be with us for a long while yet.