Ausgabe 596 vom Freitag, 29.11.2019
There has been no racing in Germany for the past week, and we have only six more racedays to come this year. Five of these are on the winter sand tracks at Dortmund and Neuss and one, weather permitting, on turf at Mülheim on Boxing Day. All of these meetings have an early start, usually before 11 a.m. because they are to be shown on Equidia, the French racing channel, for French punters to bet on, and are heavily subsidized by the PMU. The French need races in the mornings, and as they are putting up most of the money they also dictate these rather unsocial times; he who pays the piper calls the tune. On the whole these races, and also the prize-money on offer, are at a very low level, so they are unlikely to have much impact on the German 2019 statistics.
By far the most valuable races of the German season are the Deutsches Derby at Hamburg in early July and the Preis der Diana (Oaks) in Düsseldorf a month later. Therefore it is logical to find Gestüt (Hof) Ittlingen, as the owner-breeder of Derby winner Laccario (Scalo) and Gestüt Brümmerhof as the owner-breeder of Diana winner Diamanta (Maxios) at the top of both the owners´ and breeders´ list. Both have been well-established for many years as among Germany´s top studs and of course had other winners in what was an excellent season for them both, but their classic successes provided a major part of their earnings for the year.
Third in the owners´ list comes Darius Racing, the nom de course of Dr. Stefan Oschmann and his wife Shahpar. They had a rather curious season; in the first half, nothing went right and they did not have a single winner before the end of June. However in the second half of the season they enjoyed continual success, not only in Germany but also abroad, as their 3yo filly Donjah (Teofilo) and their 2yo colt Rubaiyat (Aerion) won valuable Group Two races in Italy; Rubaiyat also won Germany´s most prestigious 2yo race, the Preis des Winterfavoriten, while their 4yo Alounak (Camelot) won at Baden-Baden and then went on to collect more foreign exchange by running up in the Canadian International and then running fifth in Breeders´ Cup Turf. If foreign earnings are added, Darius Racing would be Germany´s leading 2019 owners by prize-money. The Oschmanns buy most of their runners as yearlings, mainly at BBAG and Arqana sales, and are not breeders, so third place in the breeders´ table goes to Fährhof, which has always been one of the top German studs since its foundation some 60 years ago. However they are now cutting back and sending a large draft of mares to the December Arqana Breeding Stock Sale. Fourth and fifth in the table are Karlshof and Görlsdorf, both of whom had a good year, particularly with their two-year-olds.
Although it has on the whole been a poor year for German racing, one definitely positive feature of the season has been the emergence of a younger generation to take over, and this is especially true of the jockeys. For many years Andrasch Starke, Adrie de Vries, Filip Minarik, Josef Bojko and Eduardo Pedroza have dominated the jockey scene – all of them now well over 40. But this year two jockeys in their 20s have made the running – Kazakhstan-born Bauyrzhan Murzabayev (27) and Maxim Pecheur (29); at the time of writing the former leads the table with 104 winners in Germany in 2019, while Pecheur is only 7 behind on 97 and still has a chance of catching up. When one considers that Starke was champion last year with only 86 winners, these are impressive figures. Indeed Eduardo Pedroza was the last jockey to score a century, way back in 2007. This of course reflects the shrinkage of the German racing world in the last 20 years and the possibility of riding 271 winners, as Peter Schiergen did in 1995, will probably never recur. No other jockey has ridden more than 50 winners this year, but Michael Cadeddu, Lukas Delozier, Filip Minarik and Marco Casamento are not far off – and all of them except Minarik under 30. Of course we still have the problem that native-born Germans barely figure in this list. Of those mentioned in this paragraph, only Starke and Pecheur (despite his name) are native Germans.
The same is true to a certain extent of the trainers. For many years Andreas Wöhler and Peter Schiergen, both now the wrong side of 50, dominated the scene, especially as regards the top races. They have each won the Deutsches Derby five times, and 8 times the Preis der Diana between them as well. The arrival of Markus Klug, now 43, a few years ago brought a new player to the top table, and he has won three of the last six runnings of the Derby. And now we have Henk Grewe, only 36, and in training terms a real spring chicken. He had a really good season last year, including his first Group One success, but this year has been even better and he sits clear at the top of the trainers´ table with 62 winners in Germany, plus another two dozen in France and Italy. The German trainers´ table is decided (rather illogically) by the number of winners rather than by prize-money, but on that basis too Grewe is the leader, though only by a narrow margin from Markus Klug and Andreas Wöhler. It is also striking that Grewe has a large number of young – or youngish- owners, which augurs well for the future, as does his impressive strike rate with 2yo´s –he has had 29 winners so far and is aiming at the all-time German record of 31 juvenile winners, set by Heinz Jentzsch in a time when there was much more racing than there is now.
One of the great advantages of horse racing as a sport is that it appeals to all age groups and social classes, but it is clearly important that the owner, trainer and jockey scene has plenty of newcomers prepared to take on the older generation, and that is the case in Germany at the moment.