German stars secure automatic places as big Breeders’ Cup week begins

Guignol, an impressive winner of the Grosser Preis von Baden yesterday. Photo:

A huge eight days internationally for the Breeders’ Cup Challenge got under way in Germany at the weekend with two big winners sealing automatic berths for the World Championships at Del Mar in California on November 3-4.

Ashiana, whose victory earned her a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and Guignol, who secured a place in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, will be followed by the winners of no less than five races taking place on Irish Champions Weekend at Leopardstown and the Curragh at the weekend.

The Mastercraftsman filly Ashiana became the sixth horse to qualify for the Filly & Mare Turf through the Challenge series this year when she surged to the front in the final furlong to win Saturday’s 1½-mile G2 T. von Zastrow Stutenpreis at Baden-Baden.

Stall Ullmann’s homebred Guignol went wire-to-wire defeating the favorite and defending champion Iquitos by 2½ lengths in yesterday’s 1½-mile $163,000 G1 Longines Grosser Preis von Baden, the climax of the famous Grosse Woche at Baden-Baden.

‘Easier than expected’

Guignol, a 5-year-old son of Cape Cross out of the Monsun mare Guadalupe, trained by Jean-Pierre Carvalho and ridden by Filip Minarik, earned his second career G1, having captured the Grosser Preis von Bayern at Munich last November.   

Facing five rivals yesterday, Guignol broke well and set the pace through the first mile, pressed on his outside by Godolphin’s 4-year-old Prize Money and German Derby winner Windstoss to his inside. On the turn for home, Prize Money swung wide and out of contention, and Windstoss did not gain on the leader. Iquitos, who had been in last saving ground most of the way, started a concerted drive along the rail to close the gap into second, but was no match for the winner.

Minarik said afterwards: “This was easier than expected. He only had to counter one attack. This is my fourth win in the Grand Prix here and the atmosphere gave me goose bumps.”

The Grosser Preis von Baden was the ninth Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifier for the Longines Turf this year after:

  • Sadler’s Joy, winner of the Sword Dancer at Saratoga on Aug. 26.

  • Ulysses, who won the  Juddmonte International at York on Aug. 23.

  • Hunt, who won the Del Mar Handicap on August 19.

  • Beach Patrol, winner of the Arlington Million on August 12.

  • Enable, winner of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 29.

  • Satono Crown, who captured the Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin in Japan on June 25.

  • Ordak Dan, who won the Gran Premio 25 de Mayo at San Isidro in Buenos Aires on May 25.

  • Voador Magee, who took the Grande Premio Brasil at Hipodromo Gavea in Rio de Janeiro on June 11.

Eckard Sauren’s Ashiana won by a half-length from Diana Storm. The progressive 3-year-old chestnut filly, trained by Peter Schiergen and ridden by Andrasch Starke, was winning her third race in five career starts, defeating ten rival fillies and mares as the 4.3-1 third choice.

“We were hoping for a place but she won,” said Suaren, who President of the Racing Club at Cologne. “We’ll see what we do next but a start in the Breeders Cup is a possibility.

The going was officially good for both days at Baden-Baden.

The other five qualifiers for the Filly & Mare Turf so far are:

  • Bela-Bela, winner of the Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes at Kenilworth in South Africa in January.

  • Foxplay, who captured the Coolmore Legacy Queen of the Turf Stakes at Royal Randwick in Australia in April.

  • Birdie Gold, who won the Gran Premio Pamplona at Moneterrico in Peru in June.  

  • Dacita, winner of the Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington on August 12.

  • Enable (also qualified for the Longines Turf) who was a dominant winner last month in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks at York.

The five Challenge races in Ireland at the weekend are:

  • The Willis Towers Watson Champions Juvenile Stakes (for BC Juvenile Turf) at Leopardstown on Saturday.

  • The Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (BC Filly & Mare Turf) at Leopardstown on Saturday.

  • The Qipco Irish Champion Stakes (Longines BC Turf) at Leopardstown on Saturday.

  • The Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes (BC Turf Sprint) at the Curragh on Sunday.

  • The Moyglare Stud Stakes (Juvenile Fillies Turf) at the Curragh on Saturday.

The Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held for the first time at the Del Mar racetrack near San Diego, California, on November 3-4.

As a part of the benefits of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, the Breeders’ Cup will pay the pre-entry and entry fees for qualifiers who start. It will also provide a $40,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside North America.

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