LAST Sunday’s Allianz-Grosser Preis von Bayern for three-year-olds and up over 2400 metres at Munich was the last Group 1 race in Europe this year.
Although it was by no means the strongest Group 1 ever run, it was still a fascinating race and ended with a historic victory for Kirsten Rausing’s homebred filly Alpinista, a grey daughter of Frankel who started favourite at 4/5 and duly scored by three-parts of a length from local hope Mendocino.
Alpinista, trained like so many of Miss Rausing’s grey stars by Sir Mark Prescott in Newmarket, had been a smart three-year-old, having been runner-up to Aidan O’Brien’s Love in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks among other good performances, but she has been in superb form this season and is unbeaten in five 2021 starts, including three German Group 1s, the Grosser Preis von Berlin (in which she defeated subsequent Arc winner Torquator Tasso), the Preis von Europa at Cologne and now this Munich event.
Even more remarkably, her grandam Albanova, also a grey bred by Miss Rausing and trained by Sir Mark Prescott, won exactly the same three races back in 2004, when two of these races were run at different racecourses and under different race titles.
This is certainly an amazing achievement and quite possibly unique. Alpinista’s dam Alwinda also won in Germany, but at listed level only, and full praise is due for the owner and trainer for their adventurous policy and for bringing off this unusual feat.
Only six faced the starter, including another Newmarket-trained filly, the Irish-bred Believe In Love, as well as the supplemented French-trained filly Control Tower, but in the end it was two of the German runners who gave Alpinista most to do.
Nerium, a Camelot four-year-old trained in Cologne by Peter Schiergen, and who had been behind Alpinista in both Hoppegarten and Cologne, made the running at a steady pace, with Alpinista close up and Believe in Love bringing up the rear.
Alpinista moved up to challenge Nerium for the lead early in the straight, but Nerium stuck to the task gamely, while a new danger appeared in the shape of local hope Mendocino, coming with a strong run on the inside.
Nerium was beaten at the distance, but Mendocino proved a tough nut to crack, and Alpinista only asserted in the final 100 yards.
The French raider Control Power kept on well for fourth place, but Believe In Love was a disappointing fifth, never really getting into the race.
Connections of both placed horses were delighted, and Mendocino, who has been very lightly raced and as a son of Adlerflug could well improve significantly next year, was a revelation in his first race in this grade.
But the star of the race was clearly the winner, and Sir Mark, speaking from his sofa in Newmarket, quickly announced that Alpinista will be aimed at more “glitzy” Group 1s next year, possibly starting off with the Coronation Cup and with the Arc as the long-term target.
“She is four, but Albanova was already five when she won these races, so we are very hopeful for next season and have plenty to look forward to in 2022,” he said.