Maienfeld, 6/10/19

A couple of years ago an attempted visit to this meeting was foiled by wet weather. For the Trip Mk II, it had been drizzly but the racing surface was not too bad – the spectator area had been reserved for those needing a bit of a jolly mudbath. As a venue, Maienfeld only stages two meetings per annum, on consecutive Sundays at this time of year. Therefore the facilities are all temporary, given the vibe of an upmarket point-to-point. There were certainly more than enough dogs to qualify, of all shapes and sizes. The only negative is the local PMU, which bets to 150% on every race, meaning a lack of appealing prices. A smattering of Czech horses were present but with the main event a CHF 25,000 cross country race, it was slightly surprising that the French were absent.

The meeting was mixed trotting, flat and jumps. The first two and hurdles are run on a circuit approximately six and a half furlongs round – binoculars helpful for the far side but certainly not essential. The chases zig-zag all over shop, with an emphasis on jumping over blazing speed - the 3m 3f cross country chase has thirty four fences. Some are very big to look at, but often are natural hedges, so have a bit of give if brushing through the top.

The only mystery was that the card was supposed to start with two pony trotting races and have nine senior races, including a break of an hour and a quarter mid-meeting. The first two races disappeared and the third race started half an hour late, dropping the break. Nobody seemed surprised by this, except those of us not au fait with Swiss-German.

Going: Soft (estimated)

Race 1: Preis der Calanda Biere, Chur (1m 5f, Flat)

1: Rio Chico     2: Harry The Eagle     3: November Rain

Winner owned: Stall Husmatt, trained Josef Stadelmann, ridden: Nicolas Guilbert

For this race it worked best to be patient, as the favouite, Lordino (seeking his fifth win of 2019) and Runaway made their attempt to lord it over/run away from the others and both got bashed out of the first three. Harry The Eagle passed them at halfway but gave best to Rio Chico coming off of the final bend. Connections were delighted. November Rain was never nearer than at the finish, but as we know that nothing lasts forever, like the cold November Rain, then this was presumably stamina preserving tactics that went astray.
Morning cloud hides much of the Grauspitz, in case flat horses are frightened of 2,500m plus mountains

Race 2: Preis des Kantons St Gallen (1m 4f, Trot)

1: Ugo De Tortiere     2: Volpone D’Argentan     3: Un Soir Fatal

Winner owned & trained: Nathalie Gonin, driven: Fanny Homberger

The trotters were out on course limbering up before the runners for the first were even in the paddock, so in a thirteen horse race presumably two or three would just be bored by the time the race actually took place. It also prompted an important question – does the extra ability to anchor a horse that wants to go cantering or faster cancel out the downside for gentlemen driving who have rather stouter construction? Djohn dashed off in front early but when Ugo De Tortiere caught him soon after halfway the job was soon done – not a hint of late danger.

Race 3: Preis des Swiss Heidi Hotel, Maienfeld (2m 5f Cross Country Chase)

1: Les Sables Blancs     2: Wall Street Wolf    3: Badagris

Winner owned, trained & ridden: Jurg Langmeier
Jumps horses are not peakophobic, but Les Sables Blancs, Hayley and Wall Street Wolf are going faster when facing the railway line and the Rhine.

Despite being led in at the start, favourite Les Sables Blancs jumped off in front happily enough and if he were ever headed it was only the odd yard here and there. He did seem to be dominating the market on merit, not just UFO buffs liking his being named after Whitesands Missile Range (the sire being Indian Rocket drove it). Tiger De Baune was looking like a threat at fence twenty-three but he made a mistake and quickly weakened. Wall Street Wolf came back through to take the challenger baton - he had been hassling the leader initialy before losing a bit of position at the nineteenth - but Les Sables Blancs winner was always holding him. Badagris was in the mix until fading as they approached the last.
Jurg Langmeier has every reason to be chuffed but Les Sables Blancs is posing like only the trotters usually manage

Race 4: Gedenkrennen Ehrenprasident Rico Zindel, Maienfeld (2m 3f Hurdle)

1: Gold Street     2: Echanson     3: Laurenzio

Winner owned & trained: Claudia Schorno, ridden: Dennis Schiergen

Only four lined up for this and the top two on the card appeared to be considerably better than the bottom two. Echanson has mixed up flat, hurdling and chasing this year to good effect, posting results of 2311421. Gold Street has been more inconsistent but brought a hurdle and a flat win of his own out to play. The two outsiders were out of contention by halfway. Gold Street soon had Echanson under pressure and when he needed some encouragement of his own, the runner-up was being held at arms length all he way home. Laurenzio won the very distinct battle for third.

Race 5: Preis des Kantons St Gallen (1m 4f, Trot)

1: Auguste     2: Bombastic De Merle     3: Easypeasy Rhythm

Winner owned: Passion Trotting Club, trained & driven: Raphael Fresneau

This race appears to be the same as number two and a second division (2. Abteilung). There were far more changes of lead in this one, which contained runners of far more varied career records – ten wins from Fast And Furious (clearly not as mind numbingly stupid as the films), Easypeasy Rhythm with thirteen wins from twenty-eight races and all the way down to Classic Chrono (1/42) and Cat’s Woman (0/51). At the halfway point Corleone was at the front, losing that spot to a handful of horses that ended up with Auguste landing a tight finish.

Race 6: Preis der Bundner Herrschaft und Landquart (1m 2.5f Flat)

1: White Wind     2: Arricnton     3: Amazing Rock

Winner owned: Stall Schachen, trained: Miroslav Weiss, ridden: Cheryl Schoch

This had the lowest prize money on the card and was contested by horses united in their common ambition of hitting very low winning strike rates. The race card stats only cover Swiss racing (runs abroad do show in the recent form numbers, as underlined items) so it is possible that one or more was a declined genius. Probably not. People who were present had the honour to witness White Wind break his duck at the eighteenth time of asking, accounting for two stablemates in the process. See, even in pristine Switzerland, fate will serve up fart jokes on a platter. The inability of connections of Arrincton to find a jockey named Stanley (or Stalney) ruined a vast tranche of puntastic hilarity that was already prepared. The suspicion is that they did not try hard enough and readers are going to take it on trust that it would have been comedy gold, and fart joke free.

Race 7: Grosser Preis von Arosa Horse Club, Arosa (2m 3f Chase)

1: Elixir De Chaluzy     2: Blingless     3: Contre Tous

Winner owned: Stall Kildare, trained: Philip Scharer, ridden: Ivan Cherchi

This race featured a familiar name – Contre Tous, who was beaten in two selling hurdles this summer when with Brian Ellison. Since coming to the mountains he had finished fifth and first over fences, and it was imagined that his 105-rating in Britain would be competitive enough. Overall his effort was lacklustre, never passing pacesetter Blingless and marginally edging out the co-front-runner, Eclair, for third. The success went to Elixir De Chaluzy, who got a racecard note of not going well a lap out. He recovered convincingly and dashed home from the final fence like a horse going very finely indeed,having jumped the last fence in sixth place.
Eclair leads Shannon Royal and Blingless over the Trippel-Hecke (fence 15). Contre Tous, Elixir De Chaluzy and Etoile Des Vernes give inscrutable pursuit.

Race 8: Preis Champagner Laurent Perrier, Nyon & Ostschweizer Traberclub (1m 4f Trot)

1: Attenarco      2: Rebus      3: Canone Du Bocage

Winner owned: Ecurie Turrettini, trained & ridden: Vitor Nunes de Oliveria

There was a bit of a buzz building abut this with the people keen to see how The Swedishman (32 races, 22 wins in Switzerland) may go when up against Attenarco (93 races, 46 wins). Unfortunately The Swedishman became a non-runner in the middle of the afternoon and the trot became plain sailing for Attenarco. Amazingly he drifted from long odds-on to return an even money dividend. It was not noted who the commensurate plunge was for, but it was clearly a work of collective madness. We can set Rebus on the case to find out.

Race 9: Grosser Preis der Stadt Maienfeld (3m 3f Cross Country Chase)

1: Papageno     2: Beaumar     3: Memberof

Winner owned: Stall Schloss Berg, trained: Philip Scharer, ridden Raphael Lingg

Six lined up for the main event, CHF25,000 prize pot plus all sorts of sponsored bits and bobs. The order did not change much for a long way, Borderland and Memberof ahead, Cacao D’Olivate in rear. The big change around happened at the twenty-seventh obstacle, where Sweet Red Wine cruised to the front from fifth place and promptly fell at the wassergraben (apparently for unlucky horses the water will reach up and grab you). Over the approximately one remaining lap, the five left going came under pressure at different stages but contrived to have three jump the fence together. Papageno got away best, Beaumar was slightly less nippy and Memberof had seen and done enough, accepting third quickly. Papageno had clouted quite a few of the many obstacles, so to have the energy to spring home was impressive even though the purists would argue in favour of fewer errors. His dam is named Plusvite and by staying chaser standards he does seem plus vite et moins habile.
The big fence in front of the stands. Borderland, Memberfo and Papageno maintain visibility
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