Wednesday, 14 April 2010

45 Days to Go... Or 136... Or...

Iffezheim Racecourse near Baden-Baden, by far the most important track in Germany, has been slipping in out of bankruptcy for about a year now (publicly; much longer behind the scenes). Its most recent (potential) savior is Infront, a renowned Swiss-based sports promoter, more exactly its Chairman Andreas Jacobs, who also part-owns Deutsche See (Germany's leading wholesaler of frozen seafood), but more importantly is also the Chairman of Gestüt Fährhof, one of Germany's most important thoroughbred owners and breeders.

Fährhof, which took the unusual step of turning into a not-for-profit foundation a few years before the passing of its founder Walther J. Jacobs (Andreas' grandfather), is currently represented Internationally by Quijano and has also campaigned the likes of Silvano, Sabiango, Borgia and Black Sam Bellamy in not-too-distant memory. Still, it may be most prominent as a breeder, the place where such sires as Acatenango, Lomitas and Surumu left their mark on the breed.

On March 23, Baden-Baden Racecourse's prospective new operator issued a press release which was, for whatever reason, received very positively by most of the International racing media, although it didn't announce any substantial new developments, other than finally confirming the open secret that Baden's highly important Spring meet was indeed cancelled (read the Racing Post's account).

What first dampened my enthusiasm about the "upbeat" announcement is the fact that, as of April 14, the club's own website is the only one in the world that still announces the next race date for May 22, and has a countdown ticking for a long-cancelled race date. In fact, the Internationaler Club's news section has not been updated to include anything about the press release.
The news coming since then (and also the news NOT coming) is some cause for alarm, because as of yet absolutely nothing – incl. Baden's summer meet – is definite, other than the fact that the "hope that all the legal niceties have been sorted out" was unjustified. An important notary meeting set for last Thursday was postponed until today. The city (which owns the property) and investor still have not come to definite terms on a lease and therefor on the contract itself.
Meanwhile, the Direktorium's (racing board's) plan to transfer as many as possible of the spring meet's feature races to other tracks had an official deadline set for April 11, but did go into overtime, with a final result to be expected tomorrow (Update: as of April 27, it's still not 100% airtight, but it seems very likely that all Group and a couple of the other races will be run on other tracks).*

In local news, Dresden Racecourse's high-flying dreams of installing a large photovoltaic system in the infield (and thereby making roughly the handle of one of their racedays in annual profit) were pretty much scrapped by the city. In response to the discontinuation of the Listed Preis der Dreijährigen, Dresden Racecourse has announced a new Listed race, the Dresdner Herbstpreis, to be run on the traditional final date in mid-November, over 2200 meters for 3yo's & up, thereby adding actual sporting importance to what has already become a favorite day for most racegoers.**

* Thanks go out to Rüdiger Schmanns, Manager Racing Department at the Direktorium, for giving me this information in the form of a prompt email response to a question asked via their website's "contact" box.

** Race not officially announced yet and therefor subject to change (although it seems safe it will be scheduled). Distance and age group info as per phone conversation with the club's executive director, Uwe Tschirch (here too, thanks for a thorough update are in order).

(Panoramio image on top is by Sigi2)

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