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The English page - Start of “Grosse Woche” at Baden-Baden

The Conqueror, winning at Hanover. www.galoppfoto.de - Jozef Bojko


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 683 vom Freitag, 27.08.2021

Last week´s racing in Germany was very low key and there was not a single black type race at the three meetings (Hanover, Mülheim and Krefeld); the most valuable event was the BBAG sales race for 3yo´s over 1750 metres at Hanover. These races are difficult to evaluate as the conditions often result in considerable weight differences, so it was no real surprise that last Sunday´s winner, aptly named The Conqueror (The Gurkha) was one of the lighter weights. This is no way meant to be negative, as he won nicely by two lengths and never looked in serious danger of defeat after taking the lead early in the straight. It was also a fine piece of race planning by trainer Andreas Wöhler, who owns the colt and also bred him (together with his wife Susi).

The Wöhlers have done very well with their small breeding operation. Currently they have just the one mare, Izzy (Soldier Hollow), a half-sister to none other than German Derby winner Isfahan (also bred by the couple), who has good prospects of being champion sire in Germany this year following the victory of his son Sisfahan in the German Derby and also the good placing of his daughter Isfahani in the Preis der Diana, these being easily the most valuable races of the year. Izzy´s yearling by Protectionist, already named Ilmari, is lot no. 135 at next week´s BBAG Yearling Sale. Wöhler had another winner at the meeting and is clearly coming into top form, just at the right time, as Germany´s most important race meeting, the “Grosse Woche” starts this Sunday at Baden-Baden.

This will be unlike previous “big weeks” – firstly because there will only be four days of racing rather than the usual six, but more importantly as it will be the first meeting under the new management of Baden Galopp, who took over from the previous team Baden Racing earlier this year.  Baden Racing, basically Dr. Andreas Jacobs and Paul von Schubert, had run the racecourse at Iffezheim for ten years, since the insolvency of the Internationaler Club, who had been in charge since 1872. However Baden Racing were making a steady loss, an accumulated five million euros according to reports, and finally threw in the towel at the end of last year. Running a German racecourse is not a very profitable proposition, and especially not in these covid-19 times.

We wish the new team good luck and great success, as racing at Baden-Baden is an absolutely essential part of the German sporting scene. The new team, headed by builder Peter Gaul (already quite a large owner) and lawyer Stephan Buchner, has plenty of experience, having run the relatively small race track at Mannheim very well for the past few years. Mannheim, only about an hour away, is certainly not Baden-Baden – they have no group races for example, while the upcoming Grosse Woche has six plus several listed races and other top events- but the problems are similar. At least normal racegoers will be able to attend, which was not the case last year. Prize-money is also expected to be above the general German level, especially for the 2yo and 3yo races, although the prize-money for the group races will still be below pre-covid levels.

The meeting begins on Sunday with 11 races and with a very early start. Main event is the Group Three Preis der Sparkassen Finanzgruppe over 2000 metres. This looks open, but we fancy Quest The Moon (Sea The Moon), trained in Munich by Sarah Steinberg. He has only run once this season, when unplaced in Deauville a month ago. but the Baden-Baden race seems to be his main target. He has two group races at the track already in his record, as a 2yo and last year and can score again. The main rivals would appear to be the much improved mare Liberty London (Maxios), but she has to concede him weight, which looks difficult. There are no foreign runners in the field of 9, which is a pity, but the three 3yo´s add some spice. The best of them could be Gestüt Höny-Hof´s homebred Sassoon (Soldier Hollow), who was very disappointing in the German Derby, but this distance should be more suitable and the stable is in much better form now. There are two strong front-runners in the field, so a good pace is likely, which can only improve the chances of Quest The Moon. This race is backed up by a listed race for stayers and a BBAG sales race for 2yo fillies. Again there no runners from abroad, but several can certainly be expected next week, when the main races of the meeting will be run.

David Conolly-Smith


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