Could BBAG-bound colt be another Derby winner for Rottgen's star mare?
Martin Stevens speaks to the German stud's manager Frank Dorff
With tens of thousands of foals born across Europe each year, the chances of breeding or buying a Derby winner are slim indeed.
And yet the catalogue for this year's BBAG Yearling Sale in Baden-Baden includes a colt who on paper at least looks more likely than most to win a Classic.
That is because lot 202, already named Worrick, is the fourth foal out of a mare whose first two offspring have both won the Deutsches Derby.
Windstoss, a son of Shirocco who is the debut foal out of Wellenspiel, won the Hamburg feature for trainer Markus Klug and owner-breeder Gestut Rottgen in 2017. Twelve months later his half-brother Weltstar, by Soldier Hollow, also landed the race for the same connections.
What makes the achievement all the more remarkable is that Wellenspiel retired to Rottgen with no great expectations for her broodmare career, as she had a good pedigree but failed to gain black type in her racing career.
That fact is perhaps reflected in the prices achieved by Windstoss and Weltstar when they went through the ring as yearlings at BBAG – €16,000 and €40,000 respectively, returning to their vendors each time.
“Of course not,” Gestut Rottgen manager Frank Dorff laughs when asked whether he could have ever guessed Wellenspiel would become the best broodmare in Germany.
“That's the thing. I hoped she would produce nice stock, because her dam is my favourite horse ever – Well Known, who was a champion at two and second in the Preis der Diana at three.
“But she was only an average performer herself, nothing special. She is, however, very compact, very correct – which runs in the family – and has noticeably short cannonbones, which is perfect in a broodmare.
“I suppose perhaps you might fail her because she is quite small and she produces them quite small. But small or not: her foals are extremely good horses.”
Looking back on the market indifference towards the two future Derby winners, Dorff reasons: “Windstoss is by Shirocco, who had moved to become a jumps stallion before he was offered at BBAG, so the sire had gone out of fashion by then.
“Also, Windstoss is quite small and backward, so he was taken to the autumn sale, where later developing horses and those who are not so valuable are usually presented.”
As for Weltstar, Dorff adds: “He's by Soldier Hollow, who is Germany's champion sire and is certainly more in fashion, but he was not the biggest either and did not appear to be in favour, so we decided to keep him.”
Wellenspiel's third foal, a colt by Reliable Man, was also bought back in Baden-Baden last year. He reached a better price - €110,000 – as he should have, Windstoss having won the German Derby in the preceding month. But Rottgen still decided to keep hold of the lot, now a two-year-old named Walerian.
“He's much bigger with more bone and I like him very much, so we decided to put a higer reserve on him – especially after Windstoss had won the German Derby, and with the Reliable Man yearlings generally selling well,” says Dorff.
“So I don't know why people didn't want to buy him. No idea. He's in training with Klug. At the moment he is perhaps a little lazy but I'm confident he will turn into a good horse, even if it is asking a bit much to expect another Derby winner. He might be able to make a start this year at two, maybe from October, but of course he won't show his best until three.”
As for Worrick, the Kamsin yearling selling at Baden-Baden this month, Dorff is not getting carried away with thoughts of prices resembling telephone numbers, due in part because the circumstances behind Windstoss and his sire Shirocco have repeated themselves.
Kamsin, a German Derby winner by another German Derby winner in Samum, formerly stood at Rottgen but now stands under the National Hunt banner in France and is in strong demand in that department as he is responsible for this year's Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris winner On The Go.
Neverthless, surely few other colts have been as precision-engineered to strike in the German Derby and Dorff says: “Like Windstoss, he is a little small and backward, the type of horse I would normally choose to sell in October. But as a brother to two Derby winners he has to be in the main sale. We were even thinking about having him in Book 1 at Tattersalls but people there would be thinking, who on earth is Kamsin?
“He's a very nice yearling and hopefully buyers will respect the pedigree. But even if they don't, we'll be happy to keep him.”
Wellenspiel has a “very nice, beautiful filly foal” by Protectionist - “I really like her,” says Dorff – and she is in foal to a sire with rather more worldwide appeal than the likes of Shirocco and Kamsin: Darley flagbearer Dubawi.
The Kamsin colt out of Wellenspiel is one of 11 yearlings Rottgen is consigning to BBAG this year. Other standouts are perhaps the Siyouni colt out of the Listed-winning Sternkonig mare Alaskakonigin (206); a Lope De Vega colt out of the Listed-placed Desert Prince mare Elora Princess (60); and a Pivotal half-brother to three stakes performers, one of them the Group 1-placed Kassiano (66).
“The Pivotal is absolutely wonderful; well balanced, a good mover, very correct and most importantly very sound in his mind,” says Dorff. “The Lope De Vega is also one I like a lot.”
Debating how trade will fare at Baden-Baden, he acknowledges the age-old problem with the domestic German market – most players being owner-breeders, with few in the country wanting to buy yearlings – and is hoping for strong overseas participation.
“I hope that foreign buyers will come over, because there is excellent value for money for horses in Germany and it is an excellent catalogue,” he says.
Surely any agent and trainer serious about buying potentially high-class horses would not be doing their due diligence if they ignored the only sale in Europe to be offering a yearling out of a mare whose first two foals were Derby winners.