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The English page - Winter is coming

Mendocino with trainer Sarah Steinberg up during morning trackwork. www.galoppfoto.de


David Conolly-Smith


Ausgabe 748 vom Freitag, 09.12.2022

There was racing on turf at Baden-Baden last Saturday, but from now on we are only going to have racing on the sand track at Dortmund for the next three months. The sole exception is the traditional Boxing Day fixture at Mülheim, but there must be a slight doubt about that as winter seems to have arrived and it has now turned very cold. Dortmund´s winter meeting begins this Sunday and there are in all ten days scheduled: New Year´s Eve, followed by two days in January, two more in February and four in March, almost all on Sunday with a very early start. This means that there are several weeks in January and February with no racing at all in Germany. This is mainly due to the fact that the other all-weather track, in Neuss, is now closed and extremely unlikely ever to reopen. Racing on turf resumes in April with the first group race on the 16th, the Kalkmann Frühjahrsmeile at Düsseldorf. Then it Is full steam ahead until next December, with black type races almost every weekend.

The fixture list for 2023 has already been published. There are no major changes. The Derby (Hamburg, July 2nd) and the Preis der Diana (Düsseldorf, August 6th) are on their usual dates and remain the most valuable races of the season, with total prize-money of 650,000 and 500,000 euros respectively. One positive feature is that the Grosser Preis von Baden (September 3rd) has had its purse doubled to 400,000 euros, while it has been announced that prize-money for listed races will be raised to a minimum of 25,000 euros. It is however rather depressing to note that the prize-money for the Group One races at Munich (twice), Berlin and Cologne remain at 155,000 euros (i.e. 100,000 euros to the winner), well below the value of similar races in France, the U.K. and Ireland. Of course there is plenty of time for a new sponsor to appear, but the prospects are not bright.

However the Baden-Baden fixture last Saturday must be regared as a success, with a decent crowd and a good atmosphere (except for those queuing for refreshments, a big problem for many German racecourses). The racing itself was at a relatively low level, but there was an extremely interesting 2yo maiden over 1800 metres. It has been a feature for some years now, and not only in Germany, that classic prospects make their debuts very late in their 2yo season, and this was certainly the case here, Ten lined up, two of them fillies, and two of them unraced colts, who looked the most promising from the pedigree point of view. Serienmond  (Sea The Moon), who had been runner-up on his only previous start, was the favourite, but in fact the unraced colts came out on top. In the event Serienmond played no part, and it was Gestüt Karlshof´s homebred Straight (Zarak) who came through very smoothly to lead over a furlong out to defeat Gestüt Ittlingen´s  homebred Skylo (Postponed) and win by three parts of a lengths with the rest well held. This was undoubtedly a very strong maiden and the two main protagonists both made a very positive impression. Both are entered in the 2023 German Derby and both are well-bred. Straight is in fact a direct descendant of Karlshof´s great mare Sacarina (his fourth dam) and thus closely related to Samum, Schiaparelli and Sea The Moon, all good winners of the German Derby this century. Skylo is from the immediate family of Group One performers Scalo and Sound (Check). If they both go the right way it is easy to imagine their playing a leading role at Hamburg next July.

It is hard to get excited about Dortmund´s card this Sunday; four low grade handicaps, a maiden race and a poor conditions race. Far more interesting is the Hong Koing card with the four Longines  International Races, four very valuable Group One races over different distances. The only  German participatant is Stall Salzburg´s 4yo Mendocino (Adlerflug), trained by Sarah Steinberg in Munich and winner three months ago of the Grosser Preis von Baden. That was good form, and although Mendocino faces strong opposition, in particular from the Irish and Japanese runners, we expect him to run a big race, and hope to see him finish in the frame. No German-trained horse has ever yet won at the meeting, but Mendocino, who is reportedly in very good form according to the daily bulletins from Hong Kong could well be the one. We certainly hope so!

David Conolly-Smith

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