Joy: Andrasch Starke and Peter Schiergen had another big winnerPICTURE: Getty Images
Girolamo strikes for the Danedream team
Report: Germany, Sunday
Cologne: 50th Preis von Europa (Group 1) 1m4f, turf, 3yo+
THE Danedream team of trainer Peter Schiergen and jockey Andrasch Starke struck again as 74-10 chance Girolamo landed Germany's final Group 1 of 2012.
It was a desperately close finish with four horses in a line inside the final furlong but Starke, riding like a man inspired, forced his mount ahead in the closing stages and at the line he had a half-length advantage over Feuerblitz and Araldo, who were separated by a short head.
Waldpark who led halfway up the straight, faded close home and finished fourth.
Girolamo had finished a close third in the Deutsches Derby in early July, but had been beaten into fourth in the Gordon Stakes - not far behind St Leger winner Encke - where he was unsuited by the track, and had run below form behind Danedream in the Grosser Preis von Baden.
However Schiergen has maintained all along that his form in that race could not be taken seriously because of the slow pace. "He is a stayer and needs a proper pace," he said "and that he got today."
Second favourite Earl Of Tinsdal was responsible for that and led at a good clip into the straight, with Waldpark close up.
Waldpark took over with less than two furlongs to go, but was soon pressed by the fast-finishing Girolamo, Feuerblitz - who had the lead with half a furlong to go - and Araldo running on strongly from last place for Martin Harley.
The disappointment of the race was 8-5 favourite Ovambo Queen, who was never going well and dropped out to finish last.
The winning owners, the von Schubert family, were attending a family christening and could not be present, but racing manager Suzanne Roberts said: "We have never lost faith in this horse and always knew that he was capable of winning a big race."
The winner is in the Arc Sale at Saint-Cloud in October. "Obviously we shall have to discuss this now," added Roberts, "but his price has certainly gone up!"
Connections of the two placed horses were delighted.
"Feuerblitz proved today that his Italian Derby win was no fluke," said trainer Michael Figge. "He needs to be held up for as long as possible and possibly hit the front a bit too early. We shall go for an Italian Group 1 now."
Araldo's trainer Paul Harley said: "Obviously it is disappointing to be beaten only half a length into third, but Araldo showed today that he is up to Group 1 class."
His nephew Martin rode him and added: "If the ground had been a bit softer I would just about have won but this was still a great performance on his first effort in a Group race."
Waldpark ran his best race for some time, but confirmed his trainer's opinion that he is better over a slightly shorter trip.
Starke, who became a father for the first time on Friday, also won the main supporting feature, a fillies listed race on Schiergen's Jardina, who also got up in the final few yards, while Tosca, trained in Newmarket by Ilka Gansera-Leveque, finished last in a Listed event for juvenile fillies.