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Alpinista keeps Arc dream alive with another Group One triumph

Alpinista took her Group One tally to three in the Grosser Preis Von Bayern in Munich – and kept next year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe firmly on her agenda.

Sir Mark Prescott and Kirsten Rausing’s filly extended her unbeaten 2021 campaign to five races with a typically tenacious three-quarter-length victory from Mendocino, with her old rival Nerium back in third.

Luke Morris made sure the 4-5 favourite was soon up close to the pace set by Nerium, before laying down her challenge into the straight. She then had a battle on her hands, as she has in her two previous Group One successes in Germany this year, but again she proved well up to the task.

Prescott , watching at home from his Newmarket yard, was delighted with Alpinista’s performance – and her prolific season.

He said: “It went well. It’s been a little plan that came off for once!

“It’s been marvellous. She’s not missed a beat – she just had a cloudy scope and couldn’t run in one (race) in England, and we had to miss that.

“But other than that, she’s won five out of five.”

The manner of Alpinista’s latest victory was very much in character.

“That’s her style,” added Prescott.

“The other two (races) are more or less exact replays – and the third horse, Nerium, he’s wonderful. They’ve really produced their form together almost every time, to a length.”

Among those defeated by Alpinista through the summer was subsequent shock Arc hero Torquator Tasso, a near four-length runner-up to her in the Grosser Preis von Berlin at Hoppegarten in August.

That form line inevitably alerted many to her potential at the very highest level – and Prescott confirmed the plan to target some major prizes next year, most likely on home soil, en route to ParisLongchamp.

“I think with her, because she’s won three Group Ones and she’s a filly and not a colt, you can be pretty brave,” he said.

“I think you would run in the glitzy Group Ones – you’d probably go for them now, if she’s as good next year.

“I think that would mean less (travelling) probably. You’d take the view that you’ve won three Group Ones, you’re very lucky and you want to roll the dice.

“We can all plot them, can’t we? You can plot it easily enough – it’s just a question of getting one good enough.”

Alpinista has put herself in that bracket, and already proved herself a leading light in the dynasty of home-bred stars over many years for her owner Kirsten Rausing.

Prescott added: “It’s been a marvellous season for Miss Rausing.

“She’s had the most fantastic year, and she thoroughly deserves it – and she’s got two or three of these very good fillies, all home-bred, (so) it must be wonderful for her.”

As for Alpinista, Prescott admits her ability to fare so well on overseas trips has surprised him as much as her sustained improvement on the track – although this time, he was indebted to fellow Newmarket trainer Roger Varian for providing a travelling companion in Believe In Love, who went on to finish a near five-length fifth for her trouble.

“She’s great, she takes it very well,” Prescott added, of his stable star.

“She still has to have a companion to travel – and you wouldn’t have thought, when she was young, she would travel as well as she does.

“When we’ve been on our own, I’ve had to send my old hack over with her.

Roger Varian's Believe In Love joined Alpinista on her trip to Bavaria
Roger Varian’s Believe In Love joined Alpinista on her trip to Bavaria (Mike Egerton/PA)

“This time, fortunately, Mr Varian wanted to come over – so we had a share without having to send the old hack over.”

The trainer had reason to be pleased with himself too, for completing the keyboard skills which allowed him to watch Alpinista from afar –  in the absence of his usual technical support, principally his assistant William Butler.

“It tested all my skills!” he said.

“William’s there, and he normally manages these things, and the secretary’s off.

“So everybody came to the rescue, and I had just two buttons to press to watch it – and it all went well.”

Skalleti impresses with finishing flourish in German Group One

A second tilt at the Qipco Champion Stakes remains the primary objective for Skalleti after notching his second Group One victory in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis at Munich on Sunday.

Jerome Reynier’s stable star found only the William Haggas-trained Addeybb too strong on Champions Day at Ascot in October and has returned seemingly better than ever this season.

After winning at Group Three and Group Two level in the spring, Skalleti claimed his first top-level success in the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp at the end of May, narrowly beating Charlie Hills’ subsequent Summer Mile scorer Tilsit.

A hot favourite to follow up in Germany, the six-year-old was settled at the rear of the field for much of the 10-furlong contest by veteran French jockey Gerald Mosse.

And while he still a long way behind the pacesetting Tabera rounding the home turn, Skalleti ultimately made up the ground comfortably before powering clear for a dominant success.

Reynier said: “It was a good opportunity to add another Group One to his record. It seemed an easy race for him on paper, but you always worry something might go wrong.

“Gerald was very happy with him. They didn’t go very fast early on and he was out the back, but when he asked him to go he did it well.

“It was not our original plan to run him during the summer because we wanted to avoid all the travel and the firm ground, but this summer is pretty weird as it’s been pretty stormy with a lot of rain – and because the horse was in such good shape we said we had to go.

“To be heading back down south with another Group One victory is great.”

Last season Skalleti won the Prix Dollar just a fortnight before running in the Champion Stakes and his trainer is eyeing a repeat, with a potential run at Deauville next month also under consideration.

“If all goes well, we’ll probably go to the Prix Dollar before going back to Ascot. It worked quite well last year and we hope to win both races this year,” Reynier added.

“The Dollar and the Champion Stakes are only two weeks apart, but so many horses have run well on Arc weekend and then run well again on Champions Day at Ascot. If he’s in great shape and we’re very happy with him, we can give it a go.

“If the ground is too firm in Longchamp, we can skip the Dollar and go straight to the Champion Stakes, but we’ll see in due course.

“He’ll definitely have an entry in the Grand Prix de Deauville at the end of August. I know the trip is a bit longer (extended mile and a half), but it’s a 200,000 euros Group Two – if the ground is soft enough and the horse is in good shape, I’m sure he’d have a great chance.”

Skalleti goes for Group One gold in Munich feature

Skalleti goes for a second successive Group One victory, following an eight-week break, in the Grosser Dallmayr-Preis – Bayerisches Zuchtrennen in Munich.

Trainer Jerome Reynier reports the six-year-old grey, winner of the Prix d’Ispahan at ParisLongchamp last time, to be in such fine shape at home that it was decided to head to Germany on Sunday and then maybe for the Grand Prix de Deauville on August 29, if all is well.

Skalleti’s main objective remains the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot, in which he was runner-up behind Addeybb last autumn.

“He’s good – we’re very happy with him,” said Reynier.

“He had a break after his last win, and we wanted to take our time. We wanted to see how he was in early July, and we are happy with him physically and mentally, so we thought this was a good opportunity to try to win another Group One with him.

“It’s a mile and a quarter on good to soft ground, depending on the weather forecast. With six runners, he will be waiting at the back and hopefully be doing the same as at Longchamp last time out.

“We are definitely not going there for the money. It’s only 60,000 euros for the winner.

“It was either this race or the Prix Gontaut-Biron – the Group Three in Deauville. He won that race last year with a three kilogramme advantage over (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner) Sottsass.

“This year he would be the one to carry the penalty, so it is better to keep him to level weights in Group One company in Germany.

“Maybe then we will go for the Grand Prix de Deauville if he is in good shape, and if the ground is soft enough. The plan is to bring him to Ascot in top shape for the Champion Stakes.”

The two three-year-olds in the six-runner line-up are German Derby fourth Lord Charming, trained by Peter Schiergen, and Jean-Pierre Carvalho’s Mythico, winner of the German 2000 Guineas. Three four-year-olds – Grocer Jack, No Limit Credit and Tabera – complete the field.