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The English page - Will this be the key race?

Gr. II-winner Kaspar, Adrie de Vries on board. www.galoppfoto.de - Stephanie Gruttmann


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 672 vom Freitag, 11.06.2021

There were four listed races last weekend in Germany, but to be frank, all were relatively low level events. However the Group Two race on Sunday at Mülheim was definitely of a much higher calibre and featured several of German´s top 4yo´s. The race, now titled Grosser Preis der rp Gruppe after the new sponsor, is normally the main event at the Baden-Baden Spring Meeting and called the Grosser Preis der Badischen Wirtschaft after the local sponsors there. That meeting had to be cancelled, not strangely enough because of covid-19 but because the racecourse at Iffezheim is now under new management and they still needed time to get everything organised. Mülheim, now one of the most go-ahead race clubs in Germany, did a great job, but obviously everyone in German racing hopes that everything will be back to normal in Baden-Baden by this time next year.

The race is for 4yo´s and older horses over 2200 metres, and in fact 6 of the 7 runners were German-trained 4yo´s, the exception being the French-trained but German-bred 5yo mare Noble Music (Sea The Moon) and she ran respectably enough, just clinging on to fourth place in a very tight finish for the minor placings. However she never had any hope of defeating the all-the-way winner, the Gestüt Röttgen homebred Kaspar (Pivotal), who won comfortably by 1¾ lengths under Dutch jockey Adrie de Vries. Dr. Christoph Berglar´s homebred Grocer Jack (Oasis Dream) tried to launch a late challenge but was seen off easily enough, but just held on for second place from Only The Brave (Iffraaj).

No fewer than five of these runners had contested the 2020 German Derby, in which Torquator Tasso (Adlerflug) had been runner-up, Grocer Jack third past the post, but subsequently disqualified, Kaspar fourth past the post and promoted, while Adrian (Reliable Man) and Only The Brave finished well back in seventh and eighth. The form of that race has of course well boosted since, with the winner, the Schlenderhan homebred In Swoop (Adlerflug) runner-up in both the Grand Prix de Paris and the Prix de l´Arc de Triomphe, while Torquator Tasso had also confirmed the form by winning the Grosser Preis von Berlin with Kaspar third and Grocer Jack fourth. Torquator Tasso was now carrying a 3 kilos penalty for that Group One success and was also the only runner making his seasonal debut, so his final sixth place was certainly no disgrace under the circumstances.

The only real disappointment of the race was Nerium (Camelot), a much improved performer who had defeated Kaspar in a similar race at Cologne in April, but was now worse off at the weights. The two of them now started joint-favourites at 5-2, but while Kaspar clearly justified the confidence, Nerium finished last, but still less than a length behind fourth-placed Noble Music. Kaspar was certainly not winning out of turn; this was in fact only his second career victory and the first at group race level, but he had been running consistently well in top company and this win was well deserved. He is from a top Röttgen family and closely related to their Italian Derby winner Kallisto. He had been through the BBAG sales ring as a yearling, but had been bought in for 140,000 euros (via IVA-Alles).

The senior German handicapper was far from impressed with the result, although he claimed that Kaspar was clearly the “logical winner;” however he has put his rating down to 96 ½ GAG (=international 113), two pounds below his best rating. Where these horses go next is not clear, but some of them could well run at Hamburg in the Grosser Hansa-Preis on July 3rd, the day before the German Derby. Kaspar might be switched to the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud, also on July 4th, as connections would dearly love to win a Group One with him. Torquator Tasso could well be aimed at a second victory in the Grosser Preis von Berlin, this year back to its usual date in August and over 2400 metres, which connections feel is more suitable, while Grocer Jack could be brought back in distance to 2000 metres, which certainly looks his ideal trip, and Munich´s Grosser Dallmayr-Preis would be the obvious target.

The form of the 2020 Deutsches Derby still looks solid, and the winner then In Swoop confirmed it yet again when a cosy winner of the Grand Prix de Chantilly last week. Both he and his Hamburg runner-up Torquator Tasso are sons of the late lamented Adlerflug, and that Schlenderhan-bred champion had another one-two result this week at Saint Cloud, when Alter Adler made all to hold off Martial Eagle, with both of them running very green. Alter Adler, a Stall Nizza homebred, is now narrow favourite in very open betting on this year´s Hamburg classic, but the market will almost certainly be shaken up again after this weekend´s big race, the Group Two Union-Rennen at Cologne, traditionally the best Derby trial. Three of the last seven Cologne winners have gone on to take the Derby as well, but of course it does not have to happen and this year the Derby picture remains very cloudy.

Eleven have been declared for Sunday´s race, which looks extremely open, especially as three leading trainers are doubly (or trebly) represented, and although we know which horses their top jockeys are riding, there is no guarantee that they will be on the “right” one (just as we saw last week at Epsom). Local trainer Henk Grewe, who has gone close several times, saddles three with his main jockey Andrasch Starke partnering Virginia Storm (Soldier Hollow), who seems likely to start favourite. Markus Klug, who has three recent Derby wins to his credit (and two of them won the Union-Rennen as well) has two runners, Sampras (Iffraaj) with Martin Seidl and Sky Out (Adlerflug!) with Alex Pietsch, and Andreas Wöhler, who has an excellent record in the Derby, also saddles two, Sir Vulcano (Polish Vulcano) with Josef Bojko and Wiesentau (Mukhadram) with stable jockey Eduardo Pedroza.

Also of great interest are Munich challenger Mendocino (another Adlerflug), trainer Sarah Steinberg and jockey René Piechulek, while Jean-Pierre Carvalho and Peter Schiergen, who sent out the first two German classic winners this year, are represented by Sun of Gold (Golden Horn), jockey Fabrice Veron, and Liban (Protectionist) respectively. It is interesting that Schiergen is sending his main jockey to France on Sunday, but Liban has a more than adequate rider in our favourite “jockette” Sibylle Vogt. Andreas Suborics, who has a good line to 3yo form, now saddles last year´s leading juvenile Best of Lips (The Gurkha) under Lukas Delozier, and he now has to prove his stamina. Our two against the field at present (we could easily change our mind tomorrow!) are Mendocino and Wiesentau, but this is a race where almost anything could happen. One thing is certain however; if any of the contestants should win in convincing fashion on Sunday, he will automatically become clear favourite for the 2021 German Derby.

David Conolly-Smith

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