07/03/2022. Mondo Ippico Internazionale: Top Stories by Racing Post – Comments by Martin Stevens




I could give you a dozen guesses at which stallion has been chosen to cover the Toylsome mare Tijuana in the wake of her son Torquator Tasso winning last season’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but I’m not sure you’d get the correct answer.

The 11-year-old, who has also produced this year’s German Derby favourite Tunnes, is not going to a world renowned and eye-wateringly expensive name, but the €6,000 option Alson instead.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s probably a little arrogant to have assumed that Tijuana’s owner Paul Vandeberg, a retired master butcher from the Netherlands, would have been seduced into sending his beloved mare to be covered by a big-hitter in Britain or Ireland – especially in the post-Brexit era (groan).

Furthermore, Germany is also rather light on prestigious, proven stallions since the deaths of Torquator Tasso’s (pictured below) own sire Adlerflug and the useful Lord Of England last year, which left the ageing Soldier Hollow and the up-and-coming Isfahan as the country’s headliners.

And besides which, when you dig deeper you find that Alson, who is standing at Gestüt Fährhof in a joint venture with his breeder Gestüt Schlenderhan, is actually a perfectly credible suitor.

Hence his first book contains not only Tijuana, one of the most exciting young broodmares in Europe, but also the Preis der Diana winners Iota (dam of Deutsches Derby winner and Arc runner-up In Swoop) and Well Timed, plus half-sisters to Irian and Mare Australis.

Alson was top-class at two, winning a Baden-Baden Group 3, finishing a close second to Victor Ludorum in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and taking a two-runner Criterium International by 20 lengths.

He showed a high level of form at three, too, running third in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and winning the Prix Matchem by three lengths.

As is the case for any product of the illustrious Gestüt Schlenderhan, he also hails from a brilliant distaff family. He is out of the winning Galileo mare Assisi, making him a half-brother to German 2,000 Guineas winner Ancient Spirit, and his granddam Amarette took the Preis der Diana.



What really warms the heart of a German pedigree fan like me, though, is that he promises to extend the influence of his wonderful sire Areion.

Areion is arguably the least celebrated multiple champion sire in a major racing nation in Europe. The classy sprinter by Big Shuffle – who is still gracing the stallion boxes at Gestüt Etzean at the age of 27 – hasn’t got the recognition he deserves outside of Germany’s borders for supplying a steady stream of Group winners at home.

He has, perhaps, lacked a few stars outside of mainland Europe, but he is making his presence felt in Britain through his maternal grandson Alenquer. Yet another top-notcher by the late Adlerflug, he won the Sandown Classic Trial and King Edward VII Stakes and ran second in the Juddmonte International last year, and made an impressive return at four with a decisive victory in the Winter Derby last month.

Vandeberg has been loyal in sending Tijuana to stallions bred and owned by Gestüt Schlenderhan or its owner Baron Georg von Ullmann, as both Torquator Tasso’s sire Adlerflug and Tunnes’ sire Guiliani hailed from the famous stud, but there might be one other reason that Areion made such appeal to such a discerning breeder.

That is, that all three matings involve intriguing duplications of ancestors. In the case of Torquator Tasso, Adlerflug’s maternal granddam Alya and Tijuana’s fourth dam Allegretta – the mother of Galileo and Sea The Stars’ dam Urban Sea – are full-siblings, and as for Tunnes, Guiliani’s sire Tertullian and Tijuana’s dam Tucana are half-siblings.

With Alson’s dam Assisi being by Galileo, a hypothetical foal by him out of Tijuana would be inbred 5×4 to Allegretta.

Whatever logic lies behind the mating, best of luck to Vandeberg – by all accounts a passionate horseman who has remained humble despite his great success. He is so highly regarded in Germany that he was recently voted the country’s racing personality of the year out of a field of domestic jockeys, trainers, owners and breeders.