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The English page - Start of Baden-Baden´s Grosse Woche

The promising Salonlove. www.galoppfoto.de - Stephanie Gruttmann


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 634 vom Freitag, 04.09.2020

The most interesting races in Germany last weekend were clearly the four races for 2yo´s at Düsseldorf on Sunday, all of which had very promising winners. Gestüt Röttgen´s homebred Alaskasonne (Soldier Hollow) set the ball rolling when winning the 1400 metres race for fillies by 1 ¼ lengths from the favourite Dibujaba (Soldier Hollow). The latter made the running, but Alaskasonne was always going well in second place, challenged at the distance and soon led, comfortably asserting in the final stages. This came as a pleasant surprise for trainer Markus Klug, who not only expected his other runner, Sea The Snow (Sea The Moon) – who ran very disappointingly – to be his main chance, but also thought that neither of them could beat Dibujaba, who had also previously been in training with him. Alaskasonne is a member of Röttgen´s highly successful “A” family and her dam Alaskakönigin (Sternkönig) was a listed winner. This was probably a decent race and the winner is entered in the Preis der Winterkönigin, Germany´s top race for 2yo fillies. Her half-brother by Reliable Man is lot no. 167 in this week´s BBAG Yearling Sale, so this win is a very timely update.

Next up was a maiden race over 1700 metres, a long distance for 2yo´s in August. As in the first race, most of the runners were making their debuts, and the winner Theodora (Ito) was one of only two with a previous run. She had been a well beaten fourth on that occasion, but that had been over 1300 metres and she showed huge improvement over this longer trip. Theodora, one of two fillies in the field of eight, raced in clear last position until the straight, then had to be switched, but fairly flew the final furlong to defeat the favourite Liban (Protectionist) by half a length. Theodora was bred by Gestüt Ammerland and sold for only 2,000 euros as a foal; she was bought in for 10,000 euros at the 2019 October sale and now runs in the colours of Gestüt Wiesengrund. She is also entered in the Preis der Winterkönigin as well as various sales races. Her victory was also significant as she was the first ever for her first season sire Ito (Adlerflug); the Schlenderhan-bred won the Group One Grosser Preis von Bayern, started his stud career at Ammerland and now stands at Gestüt Erftmühle. He received a big boost this year when his full brother In Swoop won the Group One Deutsches Derby.

Yet another candidate for the Winterkönigin (“winter queen”) was seen after the listed Junioren-Preis over a mile, a race with a long history which has been won in the past by many of Germany´s top performers, e.g. Lando and Lomitas. The weaker sex was again on top here, with fillies taking the first three places. Gestüt Wittekindshof´s homebred Salonlove (Lawman) ran out a very easy winner; after travelling in third place she led at the distance and quickly put the race to bed, scoring by three lengths. Like the earlier winner Theodora she had run only once before, finishing fourth over 1300 metres, and clearly needed the extra distance here. She is a member of Wittekindshof´s “S” family which has produced so many black type winners, including two recent winners of the Group One Preis der Diana, Salomina and Serienholde. Trained in Cologne by Andreas Suborics, she looks very useful although she was one of the outsiders here, paying over 16-1.

The fourth juvenile race at Düsseldorf was by far the most valuable, the BBAG sales race over 1400 metres with 52,000 euros in prize-money, four times as much as the listed Junioren-Preis. These sales races are mainly financed by the breeders and consignors at the 2019 sales, so the money is there, while most listed races this year have had their prize-money halved. In theory, the Junioren-Preis was the better race, but only time will tell if Salonlove is in fact a better performer than the sales race winner Der Prince (Waldpark), who won in good style and is now unbeaten in two starts. These valuable sales races can have a distorting effect on the season´s statistics – there was one last week in Ireland with prize-money of 320,000 euros- but of course the winners won´t be complaining, in this case Erika and Dieter Ulbricht, who paid just 8,500 euros for Der Prince at the 2019 BBAG Yearling Sale and have already collected well over three times that sum in prize-money. He could go next for the Ferdinand-Leisten-Memorial at Baden-Baden´s October meeting, also a BBAG sales race which is the richest German 2yo race of the season. For the moment the handicapper has put listed winner Salonlove on GAG 80 and Der Prince on 79, but these ratings will undoubtedly change in the next few weeks.

Der Prince certainly won very convincingly; he was not hard ridden to score by 1 ¼ lengths from Augustinus (Territories), who was prominent all the way and just held the fast-finishing Quello (Soldier Hollow) for second place. The last-named is probably the one to take out of the race, as he ran on very strongly and will clearly be well suited to middle distances. Like the winner he was bred by Fährhof, but was rather more expensive at 120,000 euros. Der Prince´s family is basically from Röttgen bloodlines and most of his better relations are milers; however he is by the Deutsches Derby winner Waldpark (Dubawi), who now stands at the Haras d´Annebault, so might get further.

The rest of last weekend´s racing was relatively low key, but it is a different matter this week, as Baden-Baden´s Grosser Woche, Germany´s most important race meeting starts on Saturday following this year´s BBAG Yearling Sale on Friday, just down the road from the racecourse at Iffezheim. Prospects for the sale look uncertain, following Doncaster´s rather weak start to the yearling sales season earlier in the week, but the mood at Iffezheim seems to be positive and we certainly hope for strong results. We predict however that many of the top lots will go to foreign buyers and that the fillies will outsell the colts.

Racing will be at a good standard on all five days of the meeting, with seven group races and several other black type events. Prize-money however will be low as a result of the coronavirus problems, which mean in effect that there will next to no paying racegoers on the track. Group Three races will be worth 16,000 euros to the winner, so are not likely to attract huge numbers of foreign runners.

Saturday´s opening day features the Group Three 65th Preis der Sparkassen Finanzgruppe for 4yo´s and up over 2000 metres. Top Max (Joshua Tree), trained by Henri-Alex Pantall in France, a regular visitor here, is the only foreign runner. It is difficult to compare his form to that of the local runners, but he must have a chance despite top-weight. He was beaten a head last time in the Grand Prix de Vichy, a similar event. There is not much between the German-trained runners, just top-rated of whom is course specialist Wai Key Star (Soldier Hollow), who won this race in 2018 and was a close fifth last year  but is held on that form by Itobo (Areion), while Wai Key Star was also well behind Top Max in Compiegne in June. Most of these runners are old friends, and 9yo Potemkin (New Approach) would also have a good chance if anywhere near his best.

Sunday´s main event is the Goldene Peitsche, Germany´s top sprint, a race repeatedly won by foreign raiders. It has been reduced to Group Three status this year and is therefore only worth 16,000 euros to the winner. The only foreign runner this time is Ed Walker´s filly Sunday Star (Kodiac), who will be partnered by Gerald Mossé.  Mossé has ridden the winner of this race for the past two seasons, including last year Royal Intervention (Exceed and Excel), also trained by Ed Walker so history could be on their side in an otherwise very open race.

There is then a break of four days before racing resumes on Friday of next week, with the Saturday and Sunday then having arguably the best races, headed by the Oettingen-Rennen and T.von Zastrow Stutenpreis (both Group Two) and the week´s highlight, the Group One Grosser Preis von Baden, won last year by Godolphin´s Ghaiyyath, now officially rated the best turf horse in the world over middle distances. We shall have a close look at these races next week.

David Conolly-Smith

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