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The English page - Start of Hamburg Derby meeting

Derby favourite: Alter Adler with Trainer Waldemar Hickst. www.galoppfoto.de - Sandra Scherning


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 675 vom Freitag, 02.07.2021

The important Hamburg Derby meeting started yesterday (Wednesday). The meeting, which goes on until Sunday, features five group races and several listed races as well as some valuable sales races. It was therefore clear that last weekend´s racing would pale into insignificance by comparison. The only race of interest was the Group Three Dortmund Grand Prix over 1750 metres. This is the first German pattern race of the year in which three-year-olds take on their elders, and over the years some top 3yo´s have won here, notably in 2006 and 2007 Lord of England and Soldier Hollow. Both of them won Munich´s Grosser Dallmayr-Preis, Germany´s best middle distance race, next time out and both are now highly successful sires.

Only one 3yo lined up last Sunday, but that was Mythico (Adlerflug), who had been a good winner of the German 2000 Guineas on his previous start, and he started a warm favourite at 13-10. However the race conditions were unfavourable and he faced a stiff task at the weights, receiving only minimal weight from proven older group race performers. In the end he ran below his Guineas form and finished only fourth, beaten 7 ½ lengths. The easy winner was Gestüt Ittlingen´s homebred Liberty London (Maxios) who had won a listed race over CD very easily last time out and was a heavily-supported second favourite at 24-10. She is a 5yo mare and was only conceding a pound to Mythico, so was well treated, but she is clearly very talented and trainer Waldemar Hickst indicated that she could run next in Deauville. She was obviously also well suited by the fast ground and is related to Ittlingen´s three Derby winners, Lando, Laroche and Laccario.

The action now moved to Hamburg and the ground there will be very different. There was a lot of rain there yesterday (Wednesday) and more rain is expected today. Not surprisingly yesterday´s main event, the traditional “Langer Hamburger” over two miles was won by Noa Lea a 4yo filly who got in the race with a very light weight and benefited from an excellent front-running ride from Sibylle Vogt. Noa Lea, moving up in grade after several good handicap performances, is a daughter of Jukebox Jury, whose offspring usually fare well over long distances on soft ground (cf Princess Zoe).

There are 12 races on Friday at Hamburg, 11 more on Saturday and another 12 on Sunday, when the IDEE 152nd Deutsches Derby itself will be run as the ninth race. The weather is expected to improve, but the going by the time the Derby is run will probably no longer be ideal. Friday´s big race is the Group Three Grosser Preis von LOTTO Hamburg, one of Germany´s top six furlongs events. Andreas Wöhler has two likely candidates here in 8yo Majestic Colt (Clovodil) and Waldersee (Olympic Glory), one of three 3yo´s in the field. The 3yo filly Dibujaba (Soldier Hollow) looks very dangerous off bottom weight with Sibylle Vogt in the saddle, while Norwegian raider Could Be King (Bated Breath), who had good form in Ireland last year, is an obvious threat. If there is more rain then another 8yo Schäng (Contat) would also come into the reckoning; he has twice been placed in this race and shows his best form on heavy going.

Main event on Saturday is the Group Two Grosser Hansa-Preis for 4yo´s and up over 2400 metres. This race frequently sees the previous year´s Derby stars line up again and that is the case again, as Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug), last season´s German Derby runner-up, is declared and is likely to start a warm favourite. The race conditions here, other than at Dortmund last week, mean that there are no penalties and no allowances, and so the two Group One winners in the field should logically have the race to themselves. Torquator Tasso went on to win the Grosser Preis von Berlin last year while the filly Sunny Queen (Camelot) won the Grosser Preis von Bayern. It would come as quite a surprise if any of the other four runners prove good enough to defeat this pair. It is also interesting to note that Kaspar (Pivotal), not far behind Torquator Tasso in the Derby and who defeated him earlier this season, runs in Sunday´s Group One Grand Prix de Saint Cloud. Last year´s German Derby form worked extremely well and Kaspar could certainly strike another blow  for Hamburg here.

And so we come to the 2021 Deutsches Derby, the most valuable race of the German season. A maximum field of 20 is expected to line up, the biggest field for some years. However in racing, as in real life, quantity does not mean the same as quality, and with all due respect this looks a substandard race. The theoretical best German 3yo, Best of Lips (The Gurkha) misses the race through injury (not too serious, we understand); he won the main trial, Cologne´s Union-Rennen, in good style, although six of the horses that finished behind that day, are in Sunday´s field. In theory Dolcetto (Gleneagles) and Sky Out (Adlerflug), separated by only a neck for second and third places, must be fancied now, but we rather like fourth-placed Sun of Gold (Golden Horn), who ran on well  without being given a hard race.

The 2,000 Guineas winner Mythico, as mentioned above, ran last week in Dortmund, while the winner of the Bavarian Classic, Lambo (Protectionist) also misses the Derby, as he has been sold and now has other targets. It could well be that the Hoppegarten Derby trial in late May, a race normally run in Baden-Baden, could turn out to be the best Derby trial this year. That race was won by Sea of Sands (Sea The Stars), who got up close home to defeat Lord Charming (Charm Spirit) by a head, with Vallando (Lord of England) third and Santorini (Siyouni) and Dolcetto further back. Sea of Sands has always been regarded as a Derby prospect, but Lord Charming was supplemented on Monday for 65,000 euros and clearly has a chance.

He is one of three runners for Cologne trainer Peter Schiergen, and probably the only one of them with a serious chance. Schiergen is one of four trainers who go into the race multi-handed,  His Cologne colleague Henk Grewe has four runners and Markus Klug, who trains at Röttgen on the outskirts of the city, also has four, while Jean-Pierre Carvalho has three. Klug has won three of the last seven Derbys, while Schiergen also has an excellent record in the race, however Grewe and Carvalho have never yet won it, although both have had runners-up. Carvalho now has arguably the best chance of this quartet. He trains not only Sea of Sands and Sun of Gold but also Sassoon (Soldier Hollow) who has form to his credit, albeit over shorter distances, that could well suffice.

All three are Gestüt Höny-Hof homebreds, and in fact they are the only three colts bred at that North Hessen farm in 2018 and spent their early months in the same paddock. Not only that, they are all closely related; they are all grandsons of Höny-Hof´s great mare Salve Regina (Monsun), who won the Preis der Diana in 2002 and was the runner-up in four consecutive Group Ones, including the Deutsches Derby. Salve Regina was a full sister to Samum and Schiaparelli, who both won the German Derby, and also to Sanwa, the dame of 2014 winner Sea The Moon. So it can certainly be claimed that the Höny-Hof trio all have Derby success in their genes.

However the likely favourite on Sunday is none of the above, but a colt who, although German-bred, German-trained and German-owned, has never yet run in this country. This is Stall Nizza´s Alter Adler (Adlerflug), trained by Waldemar Hickst in Cologne, all of whose four career starts have been in France. He finished twice runner-up, but then won his next two. However none were black type races and the value of the form is hard to assess. Her certainly stays a miler and a half however, which is undoubtedly a huge asset, especially as quite a few of his rivals are unproven at the Derby distance.

This race looks wide open. The horses are listed in handicap order and there is only 8 pounds between the top-rated Sea of Sands (the only group race winner in the field) and the 19th-rated runner. Any horse that has made good progress over the past three or four weeks could win this. The draw was made on Wednesday and could also play a role. This writer´s main hope is Sun of Gold, who is drawn very wide in 19; this is definitely a disadvantage, though as he is a hold-up horse and as the race is almost certainly going to run at a furious pace, in fact it could well turn out to be an advantage after all! This is another aspect of the Deutsches Derby, which not for nothing has the reputation of being “the craziest race of the year.” We only hope that there is a clean race and a good winner and that the form is confirmed later in the season when the 3yo´s meet top international performers over the Derby distance. However, to start with, we need to know the Derby winner and we shall know  for sure at about 16.10 CET on Sunday.

David Conolly-Smith

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