Horse Racing
Maximum field declared for Germany’s premier Classic at Hamburg on Sunday

30/06/2023 17:24

A full field of 20 runners – the maximum Hamburg Racecourse can accommodate – has been declared for the 154th running of the G1 Deutsches Derby (2400m) on Sunday (2 July). The ground – good to soft – is likely to stay in that range, with a slightly unsettled, yet uncertain, forecast predicting some rain before Sunday.

The 20 runners – 19 colts and one filly – will cover the whole width of the track and a good draw, neither too high nor too low, is important. With most of the principal runners drawn in middle boxes, none of the likely favourites should be disadvantaged in this respect.

Unlike other jurisdictions, the saddlecloth numbers for the Deutsches Derby are listed by rating and not by alphabet. The horse given the highest rating by the handicapper – Andreas Wohler-trained Straight – will carry the No. 1 saddlecloth, with ratings – and numbers – descending thereafter.

This makes Straight the logical favourite for the race, given that he scooted home in Cologne’s G2 Union-Rennen (2200m), Germany’s most important Derby trial. His trainer recorded the first of his five Deutsche Derby victories in 1992, so knows what it takes to win this race.

“All is well with Straight and I cannot report any negatives. Soft but not heavy ground would be a positive, and with box eight we have an ideal draw,” said Wohler of the Eduardo Pedroza-ridden son of Zarak.

Wohler also saddles Sirjan (No. 11, barrier five), a close relative to Straight, and Wales (No. 18, barrier 10). The owner’s racing manager Simon Stokes reports Wales in good form: “He is progressing from race to race, we just need a bit of luck”. The son of Camelot won his last two starts but has yet to run at a Black Type level.

Mr Hollywood (No. 2, barrier four), the mount of Lukas Delozier, was second to Straight in the Union-Rennen. His trainer Henk Grewe, responsible for Sisfahan’s victory in the 2021 Deutsches Derby, saddles three runners and said: “Mr Hollywood is clearly my number one and he worked really well on Monday against good horses. On soft or even heavy ground I cannot see him out of the placings, but the ground is very important to him.”

Of his other two runners, Grewe added: “Having campaigned See Paris (No. 9, barrier two) as a miler (for two runs in Italian Group races resulted in defeats) we may have made a big mistake. His pedigree suggests stamina and I worked him over a much longer trip for the first time the other day, and he went very well and like a reformed horse. He might surprise a few at long odds.”

Saint Cloud (No.19, barrier seven) is Grewe’s third runner:” He is fit and well but must improve a lot to figure in such a challenging race.”

Munich trainer Sarah Steinberg, who sent Mendocino to the 2022 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races last December, has Fantastic Moon (No. 3, barrier 16), ridden by G1 Prix de l´Arc de Triomphe (2400m)-winning jockey Rene Piechulek.

Fantastic Moon won the G3 Derby Trial (2000m) at Baden-Baden and though there are slight stamina doubts as well as a difficult draw, his owners were keen to run him in Germany’s richest race.

Winning Spirit (No. 5, barrier 13) is owned by the same syndicate as Fantastic Moon and trained by champion trainer Peter Schiergen. He finished second in the G2 Italian Derby (2200m) at the Capannelle on his latest start and is ridden by stable jockey Sibylle Vogt. Already a Classic-winning jockey having partnered Novemba to win the 2021 German 1000 Guineas, Vogt has naturally set her sights on this next milestone.

International flavour is added by one Irish and one English runner. Mrs John Harrington sends Pivotal Trigger (No. 7, barrier 12), while Englishman Ralph Beckett sends If Not Now (No. 14, barrier three). The former is the only horse in the race to have competed at the highest level when finishing last in a Longchamp Group 1 over 1400m late last season, while the latter is a lightly raced two-times winner from three starts.

If Not Now’s latest win came in a small handicap over 1990m at Sandown; a huge gap to Group 1 company even allowing the slightly easier standards in Germany.