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Continental Tales

Rule changes proving hard to swallow GERMANY



ritish visitors take note! Animal rights activists have got their way and tongue ties are now banned in all German racing and, should visiting jockeys break the strict whip regulations which allow a maximum of five strikes per race, they can expect severe punishment. The tongue tie exclusion came into force on June 1 and claimed its first high profile victim just two days later. If there had been a stewards’ report into the dismal performance of the well-fancied Oriental Eagle following the Group 2 Grosser Preis der Wirtschaft at Baden-Baden on June 3, it might have included something from the colt’s Royal Ascot-winning trainer Jens Hirschberger, rephrasing the school playground whine ‘you’ve changed the rules, it’s not fair, I’m not playing any more.’ Which is not to criticise Hirschberger, who has since gone public in saying that Oriental Eagle will in future compete in France, where tongue ties are still allowed. The son of Campanolgist had the breathing aide both when winning last year’s German St Leger and when starting his 2018 campaign with a Group 2 Gerling-Preis triumph, when his victims included Colomano, Walsingham and the subsequent Coronation Cup third Windstoss. But in the Wirtschaft he was tailed off last of six, miles behind both Walsingham and Colomano, and Hirschberger revealed: “Following the tongue tie ban we have tried things on the gallops at home that

Oriental Eagle: will have to compete in France after German ban on tongue ties

appeared to work, but at Baden-Baden he seems to have played with his tongue again and maybe swallowed it.”

So, rather than contest the Group 2 Hansa Preis during Hamburg’s upcoming German Derby meeting, it’s off to France for the four-year-old. German officials are trying to placate the animal rights lobby but it may not be that long before the whip goes the same way. The result of the 2016 German Derby is in abeyance in the hands of the lawyers, owing to a long-running court case brought because the jockey of third-placed Dschingis Secret did not break the whip rules, while those aboard the two horses just in front of him did. And goings-on at two of Germany’s Whit Monday bank holiday fixtures proved that ignorance of the whip regulations – or any inability to count up to five – can cost a jockey dearly. To British onlookers, the finish of the Preis, a one-mile maiden at Munich, would not look out of the ordinary. But Rodrigo Olechea-Rodriguez, the 40-year-old Panamanian riding the three-quarters of a length winner Dioresse, hit his mount eight or nine times, triggering a 35-day ban and the forfeiture of his entire share of the £2,655 first prize. Back in fifth place Sergio Jeanot Baldottier, fined three races earlier for putting up overweight, also broke the rules aboard Darshano and was handed a 20-day ban. It was a similar story over in Hanover, where Jose Luis Silverio, a veteran of 20 years in the saddle, transgressed on Voladora, runner-up in a £2,124-to-the-winner handicap, so was given a 28-day holiday and relieved of 50% of his prize-money.

Guineas hero’s spirit needs harnessing It’s difficult to believe that we can be over half way through the 2018 Classic season. If one Classic to have already taken place stands out as a remarkable contest it is the German equivalent of the 2,000 Guineas, the Mehl-Mulhens-Rennen, run at Cologne on May 21. What made this unusual was not just that the lowest-rated and longest-priced horse in the ten-runner line-up, Ancient Spirit, prevailed: his odds of 21-1 pale into insignificance when compared to Billesdon Brook’s 66-1 stunner in the 1,000 Guineas. It was more the nature and ease of his victory. Bred and owned by the Ullmann family and trained by Jean-Pierre Carvalho,


Ancient Spirit came into the race equipped with blinkers for the first time having finally got off the mark at the fourth attempt four weeks earlier, scrambling home by a shorthead in a minor seven-furlong event. The headgear appeared to be having a detrimental effect in the early stages, as the Invincible Spirit colt fought for his head while shackled in last, but after quarter of a mile jockey Filip Minarik admitted defeat in his battle to restrain him and, less than a furlong later, he had circled the field to move a couple of lengths clear. Surely his early exertions would take their toll in the closing stages? Exactly the opposite happened, as Ancient Spirit hit

the line strongly to beat two well-regarded British raiders, Fajjaj and Fighting Irish, by four and a half lengths and more. Time may tell that it was a fluke, but one would expect Ancient Spirit to be capable of better if he can be persuaded to run his race at a more even tempo – his mid-race move was reminiscent of Frankel’s surge in the 2011 St James’s Palace Stakes that almost led to an unthinkable defeat, at the finish the wonder horse had just three-quarters of a length to spare over Coolmore’s Zoffany. Ancient Spirit now heads for the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Deauville on July 8 and should not be underestimated.


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27/06/2018 18:00

Profile for Thoroughbred Owner Breeder

Thoroughbred Owner Breeder  

Incorporating Pacemaker - July 2018 July's issue features a fascinating interview with Chasemore Farm's Andrew Black who is making his mark...

Thoroughbred Owner Breeder  

Incorporating Pacemaker - July 2018 July's issue features a fascinating interview with Chasemore Farm's Andrew Black who is making his mark...