With Cologne taking centre stage as the scene of Friday’s action in Germany, Mark Boylan highlights four key facts about the racecourse…
1) Top-notch contests attract international attention
The highlight of the Cologne calendar is the Group 1 Preis von Europa, a 1m4f contest run every September that has often attracted international competition.
British-trained raiders that enjoyed recent success in the race include Youmzain (2006), Jukebox Jury (2009), Campanologist (2011) and Aspetar, who last year provided Roger Charlton and Jason Watson with their first Group 1 together.
The track is also notably home to the Mehl-Mulhens-Rennen (German 2,000 Guineas), which was won last year by the Richard Hannon-trained Fox Champion, ridden by Oisin Murphy.
From 2001 to 2012, the track held another Group 1, the Rheinland-Pokal, but this was later transferred to Munich racecourse and renamed the Grosser Preis von Bayern.
2) Speed favourable at generally fair right-handed course
Shane Kelly, who enjoyed a day to remember when partnering Caspar Netscher to win the 2012 German 2,000 Guineas, says the course at Cologne is generally fair but favours horses with a turn of foot.
“It’s a right-handed track that could be considered pretty fair,” said Kelly.
“You do need a little bit of speed there, though. A slower horse wouldn’t be the ideal candidate.”
He added: “There’s a decent straight, roughly three furlongs long if I remember correctly, that seems to be quite fair.”
3) Mark Johnston’s European record breaker at Cologne
The 2001 running of the Credit Suisse Private Banking Pokal at Cologne saw history made as the Mark Johnston-trained Yavana’s Pace became the oldest winner of a European Group 1 race at the remarkable age of ten.
The admirable stalwart, who recorded 16 victories across a 74-race career, was partnered to victory in his historic success by current shrewd trainer Keith Dalgleish.
4) Local football club part of course’s history
One of Germany’s oldest courses, established in 1897, Cologne previously shared sportsgrounds with football club VfL Köln 1899 until 2002, home of Germany’s oldest grandstand.
The club left the area known as Weidenpescher Park to a nearby district sports complex, with the racecourse then undergoing significant renovations in 2004.