Tag Archives: Germany

A Windstoss sweeping past Cracksman?


3.10 Epsom: Coronation Stakes, 1m 4f

Cracksman was incredibly impressive in the Prix Ganay last month, following on from his very strong three-year old campaign, winning three on the trot in the latter part of 2017.

The son of Frankel is near to impossible to oppose in the Coronation Stakes on all evidence available. With softish ground conditions likely to be encountered by the 6 runners, and Cracksman being at least eight pounds clear on official ratings, one could assume he has the race in the bag.

He probably has. That says, if you want to be negative, Epsom may not be the perfect track for him to show his best. Yes, he won here and finished 3rd in the Derby. On the other hand he should have won the Derby last year, actually, given he turned out by far the best horse of the race. Also simply the way he travells may not be best suited to the quirks of Epsom.

That’s nitpicking, of course. Cracksman is going to win. But – and that is a big but – if for whatever reason he can not quite put his best foot forward there is at least one compelling choice in the race representing tremendous value in my book.

Let’s first deal with the rest of the field: I’m a fan of Hawkbill, however am firmly of the belief he needs a flat, fast track to be at his very best. He’s vulnerable at Epsom. Idaho is a very good horse without being top class. He’ll give his running, though whether conditions are totally what he likes is questionable.

Yukatan is an interesting one. Still generally lightly raced. He can turn out to be a better four-year old simply needing time and experience. Nonetheless, without having shown quite enough in two starts this season as well as never having raced beyond 10 furlongs he’s one to oppose is my belief.

In saying that, as easily as I discount the chances of mentioned individuals above you can also make good cases for each of them running close to challenge Chracksman and finish at least second.

Now, I am eyeing a big price that is not totally without a chance to chase home Cracksman for victory but who certainly has a cracking chance to finish second hence pays some handsome each-way money. Usually, this isn’t quite my cup of tea.

Yet, without being patriotic, I absolutely do love Marcus Kluge’s Windstoss! The four-year old won the German Derby as well one of Germany’s most prestigious Group 1 prices, the Preis von Europa, pretty much under hands and heels. Things didn’t go his way in either race, yet he found a way to get up, producing stunning turn of foots.

Those two forms are certainly below some of the other top performances produced by Cracksman, Hawkbill and Co., nonetheless, the way he did it is what counts in my mind.

Windstoss is expected to be an even better four-year old…. if that is possible. He had a fair seasonal reappearance in the Gerling Preis: one lengths beaten under a Group 1 penalty and likely short of full fitness.

The Coronation Stakes was the intended early season target all way long. So, thanks to an uninterrupted preparation, good prep run and softish conditions sure to suit, this multiple Group 1 winner must be taken into serious consideration.

The betting market doesn’t reflect that at all. That’s wrong. it may turn out he doesn’t like Epsom or isn’t quite good enough in the end. At this point in time I have to say, though, 33/1 is a massive price.

5pts Each/Way – Windstoss @ 33/1 PP

Graasten can shock in German Derby


4.10 Hamburg: Deutsches Derby (Group 1), 1m4f

Without Karpino and Quasillo the German Derby has lost its main attractions. Which makes it now quite an intriguing affair. Shimrano is a fair favourite nonetheless. He has the form in the book. His win in the Oppenheimer-Union-Rennen is the best trial form on offer. From a betting perspective he makes zero appeal though. 2/1 in a big field with many unkown quantities….

I’ll be going with a massive price – Graasten. He was well beaten behind Shimrano at Collogne, however didn’t quite get the run of the race in home straight and was staying one late. He clearly would appreciate an additional furlong and won’t mind the Derby trip at all.

Fitted with blinkers for the first time today, it may help this very raw and green colt to keep his focus better than he has  in done all of his career starts. He’s often sluggish at the start, but has been best when ridden from the front. He enjoys a good draw today, so with the blinkers fitted, one would hope he is much sharper and is going to be well positioned.

This son of Sholokhov is a relentless galloper, big and scopey build, he could be hard to pass over the Derby trip once he is in front. Of course only if he has the class as well. He has to improve dramatically on what he has shown so far. But he has a chance to do so in my mind – a better one than his massive price tag.

Graasten @ 66/1 Coral – 5pts Win


4.10 Ayr: Handicap (Class 3), 1m

Wide open race, not many appear well handicapped, although Pintura might well be, judged on his former best. He is down to a lowly mark off 89 now – that might well reflect his true potential now – but he seemed to regain something of his best when a fair third over course and distance here at Ayr back in May. He was a good runner-up that day coming of a long break.

I happily ignore his latest run at Haydock in unsuitable quick conditions. This today should suit rather well though. There is a bit of juice in the ground as he likes it and could be underestimated.

Main danger is obviously the lightly raced favourite Obsidian who could easily have still more to offer and should really close. However he’s a short enough price, while Pintura offers a bit of value.

Pintura @ 16/1 Stan James – 5pts Win

Racing at Hoppegarten

Monday Night, the first of June – It’s windy, chilly and lashing down – Summer seems far away. But if you’re a racing fan this doesn’t matter to you. You’re going racing because you love the sport and if the opportunity arises to pay a visit to a new track you do it.

I am a racing fan and off I went to Berlin-Hoppegarten earlier this week, braving nature. It was supposed to be the highlight of my time in Germany’s massive capital, where parts of my family live. Racing’s always on my mind, though, so to miss the intended visit of Berlin’s only racecourse for thoroughbreds (there are also two tracks for harness racing) was out of question. Regardless of how bad the  weather might be.

Hoppegarten racecourse is conveniently situated in the suburbs of Berlin, easily accessible with public transport. Leaving the hustle and bustle of the booming city behind, it can be a welcome change of scenery: Hoppegarten is a green oasis, full of charm and character, with a beautiful old wooden grand stand.

Hoppegarten Grandstand

Once you arrive in Hoppegarten you’re going to be greeted by a relaxed atmosphere, while a delicious smell is waving through the air – a mix of freshly cut turf and charcoal-grilled Bratwurst!

No, it wasn’t exactly top class racing on offer that night – eight races, some more or less decent handicaps… no signs of glamour at all. But hey, this is Hoppegarten, not Royal Ascot!

Nonetheless a loyal crowd gathered around the parade ring for the first race – only a class 4 Handicap – to watch in awe the runners preparing. In desperate conditions the eventual winner Niron came flying down the stretch to win in style under a well timed ride from René Piechulek. After their heroics, horse and jockey paraded in front of the stands bathing in the rain but more importantly a warm applause from the locals.


And so it went on, a wet night, eight races, most of them producing some exciting finishes. There was loads of cheering and clapping, horses parading, owners, trainers and jockey joyful as if they’d won the Derby! It was a unique, honest and friendly atmosphere. As a racing fan I loved every minute of it. A good performance is a good performance, and so is a good ride, regardless of the class of the race.

Grassroots-sport…. racing in its purest form – it can be as beautiful and exciting as the colourful Derby Meeting at Epsom Racecourse – which is sure to excite us this weekend!

What you certainly wouldn’t experience at Epsom, though: a race held in almost complete darkness. So it happened in the final race on the night. A false start didn’t help the matter, nor the emerging fog. So it was more listening to the enthusiastic track commentator than seeing it, but the four year old filly Ishasha scooted clear to win the finale – and earned me a few quid – my only winner on the night!


Yes, Berlin-Hoppegarten left a lasting impression on me. I really loved it, despite the rain – and in all seriousness, it was allot of rain! Though the sun looked through the dark clouds towards the end, bathing the course in some wonderful golden light for at least a couple of minutes…. it was very special. So I can’t praise Hoppegarten highly enough. A real gem. If you’re ever in Berlin, don’t miss it!


Complete Hoppegarten Photo Gallery

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All Photos Credit: Florian Christoph

Preview: German 2000 Guineas – First Classic Success for Paco Boy?

Capella Sansevero 

Excellent line-up for the German 2000 Guineas. The home team looks to have a very strong hand and it could be tough for the foreign raiders to land a blow.

Andreas Wöhler trains two exciting colts in Karpino and Making Trouble. The former is trading as the red hot favourite after he won the Dr. Busch Memorial (G3) in excellent fashion on his seasonal debut, which was only his second career start. He drops slightly in trip today, which must not be an inconvenience, but he might be vulnerable against speedier sorts I feel, as he poses a very stamina laden pedigree.

Stable mate Making Trouble has the 1 mile trip written all over as a son of former world class miler Paco Boy. He won a Listed event over 1.500m on his seasonal reappearance in really good style and is expected to come on for the run. He should certainly improve for the step up to 1m and his trainer voiced satisfaction with Making Trouble’s progress prior to the big race.

Brisanto won the Group 3 Preis des Winterfavoriten in horrible conditions when last seen in October 2014. He’s a definite player if race fit, though the better ground is not sure to suite entirely. Agent Provocateur can’t be ruled out with fitness assured. He won a Conditions Race in France earlier this month and should get the additional furlong today but obviously has to raise his game in order to be competitive in this field.

Irish raider Capella Sansevero tries to redeem himself today after a lacklustre performance in the Newmarket 2000 Guineas. The runner-up of last years Coventry Stakes is a very speedy sort and that means he is not a sure stayer. On pedigree it’s certainly doubtful and his last run doesn’t instil much confidence either.

Maroc Botti has a proven track record in this race so it seems significant that he brings progressive Fanciful Angel over to Cologne. He won a Listed event at Lingfield last month and could have easily more to offer. More is needed here today, though, as this form hasn’t really worked out yet.

Verdict: If Karpino fails to fire today then victory can still go Andreas Wöhler’s way. His second string Making Trouble seems overpriced. He was impressive when winning a Listed event recently and should improve for the new trip. He can provide a first classic success for his sire Paco Boy and has clearly inherited a lot from his prominent daddy, most notably the sharp turn of foot.

Making Trouble @ 12/1 Bet365 – 5pts Win