Andreas Wohler: appears to hold a strong hand for the German ClassicsPICTURE: Getty Images
Deutsches Derby hopes go on trial at Frankfurt
Preview: Germany, Sunday 4.05 BST
Frankfurt: Frühjahrs-Preis des Bankhauses Metzler (Group 3) 1m2f
THIS isalways one of the most informative early trials for the German Derby, and last year's one-two Earl of Tinsdal and Saltas went on to finish second and third in the Hamburg Classic.
The 2011 winner was trained by Andreas Wöhler and ridden by Eduardo Pedroza and the same combination is responsible for the likely favourite this time, Novellist, unbeaten in two starts and particularly impressive when winning at Hoppegarten a month ago.
Wöhler appears to hold a strong hand for this season's German Classics, but insisted: "Novellist is definitely one of my best three-year-olds and well up to the standard of my previous winners of this race."
His most dangerous opponent could be All Shamar (Waldemar Hickst/ Adrie de Vries), also unbeaten in two startsbut not seen since winning a Listed race at Saint-Cloud last November.
"That could be a slight disadvantage," admits Hickst. "But I think he is very smart. However, I am not sure he will stay 12 furlongs, and the Prix du Jockey Club is a more likely target than the Deutsches Derby."
Mario Hofer has supplemented Mano Diao (Olivier Peslier) and pacemaker The Dude (Steffi Hofer), and the former, who was an easy winner over this course and distance on his only start so far, is up sharply in grade here but clearly a threat.
Pakal (Wolfgang Figge) ran in the same colours last year, but was sold to his present connections after his second place to French Fifteen in the Group1 Criterium International, which is the best form on offer here. He was only sixth on his seasonal debut in the Dr Busch Memorial but is expected to put up a much better show this time.
Also on Sunday 3.15pm BST
Berlin-Hoppegarten: Oleander-Rennen (Group 3) 2m 4yo+
THIS is one of Germany's top staying races and has a new venue having previously been run at Baden-Baden.
However, the first three from 2011 line up again - Tres Rock Danon (Waldemar Hickst/ Alexander Pietsch), Earlsalsa (Christian von der Recke/ Filip Minrik) and Flamingo Fantasy (Sascha Smrczek/ Andrasch Starke), who won the race in 2009, while 2008 winner Caudillo, now a nine-year-old, also tries again.
Tres Rock Danon, who also won this in 2010 and last October finished runner-up in the Prix du Cadran, is the most successful German stayer of the last two seasons, but ran inexplicably badly on his 2012 reappearance when last in a Listed race at Saint-Cloud, well behind three of these runners.
"We have no idea what went wrong then but he will definitely run much better now, and I also expect a good run from my other starter Lacateno (Johan Victoire)," said Hickst.
The trainer will be at Frankfurt watching his Classic hopeful run, as will Andreas Wöhler who also has two runners in the Hoppegarten race. Altano (Ratislav Juracek) and King´s Messenger (Josef Bojko).
Altano won four races last year, including the Italian St Leger, but the trainer prefers the latter, third in that Saint-Cloud race, and said: "King's Messenger has improved a lot and I think he has a great chance at the weights."