THE DEFINITIVE GERMAN DERBY PREVIEW PLUS SPEED FIGURES, TREAT IN STORE.
It has arrived, the highlight of the year for me, the Deutsches Derby. The only negative being the Hamburg track where this great race is being run. The surface is simply not good enough and depending on weather conditions it can get very rough indeed or become a swamp. However, we have got to put up with that now but surely the sophisticated and well informed Germans can get together and remedy this situation into the future or if not then the race should be moved to another venue. As it turns out the course management has widened the track by removing the ”hatch” between the two courses and this should erase some of the awful scrimmaging that has been part and parcel of this event in recent times. I do wonder though have they remeasured the distance as anytime you widen or indeed tighten a course you always interfere with the yardage. I have asked this question of the track and hopefully will get an answer soon. The move to widen has to be applauded in any case.
Last year I thought the mighty Ivanhowe was unbeatable but did mention Lucky Speed as having a big shout. By the way, those two will still prove to be just about the two best older horses around before season’s end, mark my words.
Here is a look at all the runners with my ratings beside them and the latest prices courtesy of the excellent RaecBets. As usual, a huge field with highly talented lightly raced animals.
SEA THE MOON  13/10 : Hot favourite for many months now and unbeaten in three starts. He is being mentioned in many quarters in his homeland as being in the same league as the greats of the recent and distant past, horses such as Novellist, Monsun, Acatenango, Danedream [mare],etc. Sea The Moon won on his 2 year old debut on soft going in Cologne over a mile at the backend and cruised home there before reappearing this May at Frankfurt again on soft ground in a Group 3 and simply hosed up again over ten furlongs. The form of this contest has been franked several times . However, he hung to his right quite markedly and looked ungainly at times. He hits the ground very hard and yet might end up needing good to firm like so many of his sire’s offspring. A month later on the 15th June in the famous Union Rennen over 11 furlongs and on good to firm ground and another hugely impressive performance but it also left a big question mark as this time he hung left handed throughout and drifted all the way across the course to the stands side before the finish. Hanging like that can be explained in many ways but generally there are three reasons for such such erratic behaviour, these would be, a tack problem causing the steering to go, inexperience of a lightly raced horse shying away or a physical problem. The first two can be overcome as indeed can the physical one but if indeed it was the latter has the horse had time to recover as the Derby is so close to the Rennen ? Ivanhowe ran a huge speed figure in the Rennen last year and bounced in the big one just twenty one days later . Admittedly, he picked up an injury as well but the proximity of both races to each other is far from ideal nowadays. Sea The Moon’s style of racing might also be an issue as he likes to be up there and indeed dominate. He is on the small side for a Sea The Stars and in this huge field his ability to manoeuvre will determine his overall chance. Loads of positives about this unbeaten horse but pretty serious negatives also. One of my colleagues also pointed out to me this morning about the terrible recent record of favourites in this race. On a personal note I would like to see him do it as Philipp Stauffenberg bought the foundation mare and it would be yet another feather in his collective cap of achievements. Sea The Moon’s ability is not in question but his wayward tendencies are and he will not get away with anything other than total concentration here. A further complication has now been added with the surprise move by the owners to replace regular jockey Andreas Helfenbein with Cristoph Soumillon. This is surely a mistake as I imagine the most important thing of all for this horse is to have someone on him that knows him and is aware of his idiosyncrasies. His high draw is also not favourable.
GEOFFREY CHAUCER  5/1: Much speculation as to why he missed the Irish Derby last weekend and he is a late supplementary for this at a cost of 65,000 euros. Is there a deal in the offing I wonder ? This is a good horse and was progressive at two but this season he has bombed out in the Epsom Derby and had been put in his place in the Derrinstown Trial beforehand and that event is not really working out. The arguments for him is that he failed to handle Epsom and/or he had a problem there which must have been overcome as he is turning up here and also that he needed the run in the Irish trial plus the fact that the O’Brien yard was horribly out of form at the time. You need to forgive him those two runs if you want to back him here. Has a wide draw and is second favourite but is he any value or is he good enough to beat the powerful home squad ?
WILD CHIEF  8/1: By one of my favourite but underused sires and now standing in Ireland [Doyen], this powerfully built and big good looking colt has only raced three times and only once in his native country. He is a long striding galloper who should improve massively for the step up in trip. He romped his debut at two on soft going at Cologne in October over nine and a half furlongs before reappearing in a small field at Listed level in Saint Cloud at the end of March where he did not have the tactical speed to deal with the French but still ran admirably to finish a close third. He ran huge on on last start in the French Derby to be beaten three and a half lengths by The Grey Gatsby over ten and a half furlongs. He lacks tactical speed but the extra distance here will be perfect and any easing of the ground would be welcome. He will not lack guts in what is usually a fierce affair and in reality he sets the standard on form. Big player if the rains come. High draw.
LUCKY LION  9/1: Has won three from five including an easy win in the German 2,000 last time and unbeaten in 3/3 this season. That 2,000 Guineas race was muddling and inconclusive as the main danger was badly impeded and lost all chance [Andoyas] in an incident before the straight and it is my opinion he was the best horse in that event. However, Lucky Lion can only beat what is put in front of him and many fancy him for this. Their reasoning will be his rapid rate of improvement and big turn of foot. However, I cannot come round to him and am happy to lay the odds and will be very surprised to see him make the frame. I am not much of a fan of the sire and the head carriage of Lucky Lion resembles many of the offspring of his father.
SWACADELIC  12/1: Owned by the Baron Von Ullman, this horse is by the brilliant young sire Adlerflug [first crop].Third on his debut run at two over a mile at Cologne behind Andoyas, he duly won his maiden on soft ground over ten furlongs at Bremen in mid April. He did it cosily but only doing just enough to win. He followed this up a month later with a win in the Listed Derby trial at Hannover, beating Rapido easily while again dossing in front. He has a choppy action that should be suited by an ease in the ground and on his next start in the Rennen behind Sea The Moon I thought this was apparent. Rapido was able to finish a neck in front of him this time when both were outpointed by the winner but I believe Swacadelic was totally unsuited by the fast going [I rated it fast but officially given as good] and the slow early pace. He will improve big time on that effort and should relish the extra distance also. I see him as a danger to all and I love this colt. Has to overcome stall 19.
PINZOLO  14/1: Another one of the supplementaries and he is by the mighty Monsun. Very good looking big powerful colt and has won half of his six starts but like Geoffrey Chaucer bombed out in the Epsom Derby. Suited by good or faster going this flat track should play to his strengths but it will be a huge ask of him to bounce back from that Epsom run and this is not the time or place to be taking on the Germans. Little chance.
WELTMACHT  19/1: A filly taking on the colts and a massive ask for her. Second in the Diane Trial over an inadequate test having won her maiden and conditions event in fine style. It is interesting that Gestut Rottgen are running here but they have a very strong hand in the 3 year old division this year so that probably explains it. Overall she has a huge task and it is most unlikely,smart as she is.
MAGIC ARTIST  19/1: Gave Sea The Moon a huge form boost when absolutely bolting up in the Bavarian Classic [ Lucky Speed took that en route to Derby glory last year].This was a big jump up on what the horse had achieved up to that point and the performance surprised many, including me. It was a messy race with the hot favourite Lac Lehman running way below par after getting hampered. It could be he is just improving all the time and that his stepping up in trip has shown him in better light and he fairly blasted away with a decisive burst of speed when the trouble happened up the home straight. He had run well coming from off the pace in the Metzer Preis in early May against Sea The Moon and was staying on, albeit soundly beaten. This will require another step up but not totally impossible .
SPEEDY APPROACH  19/1: This ex English trained maiden winner at two has been crying out for a step up in trip and gets it here. He was transferred by Jaber Abdullah to Germany after a disappointing run at Epsom last Autumn but he had valid excuses that day, didn’t handle the camber and was hampered. He was very impressive in his maiden win at Doncaster before that. He left the UK after four runs and with a rating of 93. He made his German debut over a mile in early April and after a terrific duel with Magic Artist he prevailed by a short head. Just three weeks later he ”bounced” on slow ground in a Group Three against Lucky Lion over one mile and 100 yards. Given a rest of 43 days he ran a hugely encouraging race to finish second in the Bavarian Classic Trial to Magic Artist, making stealthy late headway after the winner got first run. Speedy Approach has a long raking daisy cutting stride that is best suited to good or firm going. It is possible that he made need a break of 42 days plus between his runs but in the hope that he doesn’t and that the ground is favourable then I give him a very decent shot here. Big chance.
GIANT’S CAULDRON  39/1: Always forgive a horse one bad run and it is easy to do that for this maiden when he lost his action in the Union Rennen after being the meat in the sandwich between Rapido and Sea The Moon. He was running slightly below par in any case I thought but his overall form is very promising, notwithstanding he has yet to win a race from four tries. He loves good fast ground and is another with a daisy cutting action. Out of his three second placings his best effort was his run in the Iffezheimer Derby trial over a mile and a quarter at Baden Baden when getting to within a length of Sirius who has since franked the form no end when a closing third last Sunday in the Group Two Hansa Preis against high class opposition. That showed the strength of this current German crop. I rate Giant’s Cauldron and if he has recovered fully he should beat more than rivals home than beat him. An outsider with a chance.
LAC LEMAN  39/1: Those who were at Dresden on the 20th of November 2013 at 10 45 in the morning for the two year old maiden certainly got their money’s worth as this giant son of the excellent Doyen made a taking debut. He missed the break badly in this nine and a half furlong event before making his ground up to fast to join the field and then his jockey made a crazy move to circle the entire field mid race. That would stop most horses but he still powered clear before gearing down to beat the smart Karltheodor by two lengths. I gave him a big rating for this debut. He made his seasonal return at Hoppegarten in late April and blasted the clock to bits with a breathtaking display in an ordinary conditions event to win by six lengths. The day was murky and close and he did sweat profusely and I made a note of this at the time. On to what was to be his big day in the Bavarian Classic on June 9th but oh how it all went wrong. I noticed the sweat again and he was edgy but got into a perfect position near the rail before his jockey stupidly went for a non existent gap up the inside after the turn for home, he got badly hampered and even though he had time to recover he just faded away tamely. This run is very difficult to explain. He had a rest coming into it and the field size was small enough for him not to get crowded [jockeys fault] so it has left a big question mark over his chances in the Derby. Nick Mordin insists to always forgive a horse one bad run so maybe there was another perfectly valid excuse so bearing that in mind and as he has the fastest speed rating of the entire field then he has to be a major player now. I suppose the biggest question for Lac Leman is whether he can handle the preliminaries and the big field size. Just announced a non runner.
AMAZONIT  44/1: Showed terrific battling qualities having looked beaten early in the straight to land his second win from three career runs to take the Listed Swb at Bremen which was the last trial for the Derby just a forthnight ago. He was the least suited by the muddling early fractions so this performance can be rated higher. Famous owners and this horse is progressive and likeable but has a deal to make up and this is surely too soon in his career.
FIRESTORM  44/1: Non Runner.
MADURAI  59/1: Consistent and fair Listed and Group performer in three runs at two when clocking decent times and broke his maiden on second start this year when upped to ten and a half furlongs on soft at Frankfurt. He showed a good attitude when quickening clear and with his scratchy type action I guess he will always perform better with cut. Another genuine good horse but can be passed over for win and place purposes in a brutally tough contest.
BORN TO RUN  59/1: Blinkered and put up best performance on second and final run at two in November at Munich over a mile on soft when blitzing some of these rivals [Madurai and Magic Artist]. He has run fourth behind Sea The Moon and Magic Artist in the big trials on both starts this season doing all his best work work at the finish after being held up way off the pace. The step up in trip is sure to help this son of Shirocco and although he can race a bit awkwardly he could easily pass a lot of these up the homestraight. There will be worse outsiders but has a fair bit to find.
BALTIC STORM  59/1: Maiden and only raced twice in his life starting this year and ran a blinder to be close up third in muddling Swb Trial at Bremen recently behind Amazonit. Sure to be winning races in the future but this is going to be too much too soon for such an inexperienced animal. Nice type nonetheless.
RUSSIAN BOLERO  59/1: Maiden and another latecomer to racing this season but has run four times and finished one place ahead of Baltic Storm in that aforementioned Swb Trial. Wears those horrible cheekpieces and while his head is a bit high he doesn’t need them. The step up in trip is what he craves, he gets it here but unfortunately he is outclassed and like many others in this event will be winning plenty of other races in the future.
OPEN YOUR HEART  99/1: Again lightly raced, running twice this year and is smart. Sluiced up in his maiden but was readily outpointed by Sea The Moon in the Rennen. Will be outpaced here even with the step up in distance suiting him and will only come into his own over when he runs over 14 furlongs plus. Nice type though.
KARLTHEODOR  99/1: Raced five times winning maiden in good style at Hoppegarten April. Readily outclassed behind Sea The Moon in the Frankfurt trial and will not be good enough to trouble the judge this time but a nice horse with a good turn of foot and will be winning again later in the season. Possibly will be best suited by ten furlongs.
ERIC  99/1: Smart sort and I kept telling his trainer Christian Von De Recke to up him in trip and he duly showed improved form when he moved up to stay on into fourth in the Iffezheimer Trial despite pulling hard. He will need to settle better this time round. Has it all to do here though but will go on to be successful further down the road.
CHARTBREAKER  99/1: Won well on his two year old debut at Strasbourg last October and has run creditably on both starts this season in a Listed race [3rd of 5 behind Swacadelic] and a well beaten 4th [beaten 9L] behind Sea The Moon in the Rennen. The extra distance will suit but looks to have it all to do and his price reflects his chance.
AMOROUS ADVENTURE  150/1: Improved on all known form to be a staying on fourth in the Swb Trial and that was a huge jump up but this requires another monumental leap but in reality he has impossible task.
Summary : Why can’t all Derby’s be like this one ? A host of good horses and maybe one great one. The Sea The Moon hype and hopes will be tested here beyond all. He looks to have any amount of ability. However, he has his flaws also. That hard hitting stride pattern and now his inclination to hang in both directions means he is a risky bet. The weird thing is that he barely shifted his ground at all when scoring on his two year old debut, in truth you could forgive it happening there but for it to be becoming more pronounced now with racing is a big worry for me. It is screaming a physical problem of sorts rather than greenness but yet he is managing to win comfortably with it thus far. He has hung badly on his last two starts and the old adage of three strikes and your out springs to mind and if he does it again he will not win this Deutsches Derby. I have to go against him on this score and will look elsewhere for the winner. Wild Chief has arguably the best form of all coming into the race with his fourth in the Prix Du Jockey Club and is a fine specimen plus he should handle any ground but would prefer it on the slow side. Speedy Approach is the joker in the pack, seemingly exposed but far from it in my opinion and if he can keep a lid on his exuberance he will be a danger to all. Giant’s Cauldron could run well at a huge price. After much deliberation and despite a desperate draw in gate nineteen I am going for SWACADELIC to be victorious. He is such a likeable colt and seems to have the ability to match. I don’t mind the fact that he was soundly beaten in the Rennen by Sea The Moon as I explained above earlier. His Listed win at Hannover was mightily impressive and if we did get rain I would be even more confident. The purists will be aghast if a chesnut with a white blaze and four white socks wins but I hope he can do it and is a great price with RaceBets at 12/1. 2 pts win SWACADELIC at 12/1 with RaceBets.