Three supplemented runners have ensured a competitive field for Sunday’s G1 Grosser Preis von Berlin (2400m) at Hoppegarten. The field of eight who will assemble in front of the stands to gallop about a full circuit of this right-hand track with its long demanding straight are equally divided between three and four-year-olds and represent some top European form.
The highest rated contender is Alter Adler. He has already finished in front of last season’s Arc winner Torquator Tasso when winning the G2 Grosser Preis der Badischen Wirtschaft (2200m) at Baden-Baden in May and trainer Waldemar Hickst is quietly confident of a good run with ground conditions his only concern. “Alter Adler has been working well and we have a top jockey (Andrasch Starke) on board. Last time in Hamburg (when fifth to Torquator Tasso in the 2400m Grosser Hansa-Preis) he was unlucky and didn’t give his true running. I would prefer the ground to be on the soft side though, but we have no reason to hide.”
Northern Ruler (Rene Piechulek) represents the oldest owner-breeder in Germany – Schlenderhan Stud – its iconic colours carried by many German racing greats over the centuries. His trainer Andreas Wohler is no stranger to big race success either – including the Melbourne Cup and Ascot’s King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes besides countless domestic victories at group level. And Toskana Belle’s victory in last weekend’s G1 German Oaks demonstrated the current wellbeing of Wohler’s string.
A strapping son of Ruler Of The World Northern Ruler is much fancied by Wohler to improve on his second to Torquator Tass in that G2 Grosser Hansa-Preis.
Henk Grewe, a former German champion trainer, sends two contenders – Virginia Storm (Michael Cadeddu) and the supplemented Assistent (Thore Hammer-Hansen). The former has been group placed on his last three starts but the trainer comments: “It will be tough for Virginia Storm, and he might struggle in this.”
However Grewe sounds more bullish about Assistent, only beaten 1.5l in fourth in last month’s G1 German Derby before a narrow defeat in a 2400m Clairefontaine Listed race. “We do not accept that last run did him justice, and we think he can run into a place here.”
Peter Schiergen is another top trainer with a runner, Nerik (Bauyrzhan Murzabayev). Only a short-head behind Assistent when fifth in the German Derby Schiergen says of the three-year-old: “He wasn’t beaten far in the Derby and is running well in blinkers.”
Schiergen had trained Sammarco to win that German Classic and makes a pert observation about the 2022 merits of the different age groups: “Sammarco has won in open company since the Derby (a 2000m G1 in Munich) and that shows that three-year-olds can hold their own against older horses this year. I expect him (Nerik) to be in the mix.”
Ardakan (Clement Lecoeuvre) won the G2 Italian Derby in May whilst supplemented Nastaria (Miguel Lopez) is the only filly in the field. The mighty Danedream captured this prestigious prize as a three-year-old filly en route to her famous victory in the 2011 Arc but Nastaria – though the runaway winner of a 1900m Listed event at Dresden last Sunday – does not look in her league.
Stronger claims surely go to Godolphin’s Rebel’s Romance, who has also been supplemented. Germany has often been a happy hunting ground for Newmarket-based Godolphin horses and the Charlie Appleby-trained gelding appears to be in rude health having won twice this season, latterly with a determined victory in the G3 Glorious Stakes over this trip at Goodwood late last month.
The winner of the 2021 UAE Derby (G2,1900m dirt) Rebel’s Romance triumphed at Goodwood despite the unhurried pace not helping, and James Doyle is likely to make plenty of use of this strong stayer from the moment the gates open. And the predicted fast ground should assist him.