German Classic Winners Keeping It In The Family



For the second year running, the Deutsches Derby went to a colt whose family had already produced a winner of the premier German classic this century. Although open to all-comers, the German Derby is mainly contested by produce of the country’s broodmare population which is small in size when compared with Britain, Ireland, France or the US. As a result, it is by no means unusual for the same immediate family, or even the same broodmare, to be able to boast more than one classic winner.

In recent decades, therefore, the German Derby has been won by the siblings Orofino and Ordos in the eighties, Lando and Laroche in the nineties, Borgia and Boreal in 1997 and 2001, and Samum and Schiaparelli in 2000 and 2006.

The last-named pair were also brothers to the 2002 Preis der Diana (German Oaks) winner Salve Regina who was herself runner-up in the Derby, while an unraced full sister to the trio of classic winners, Sanwa, became dam of the runaway 2014 German Derby winner Sea The Moon.

Another German classic winner a little further back in this family is Bravour II, the great grandam of Samum and his siblings, who won the Schwarzgold-Rennen which was then the German equivalent of the 1000 Guineas. The same race was also won by Licata who was to become grandam of Lando and Laroche.

So what of the latest Deutsches Derby winner Nutan? Sure enough, he’s a relative of the next most recent winner of the race beginning with ‘N’, Next Desert, the colt who denied Salve Regina her Derby win in 2002. Next Desert’s dam was herself a classic winner, Night Petticoat having won the 1996 Preis der Diana, a race also won by her own daughter Next Gina the year after Next Desert won his Derby.

Nutan’s dam Neele (a Group 3 runner-up at Hamburg) is out of a half-sister to Night Petticoat. Neele had already produced a Group 1 winner before Nutan came along in the form of the filly Nymphea. She just missed out on becoming another German Oaks winner for the family, finishing runner-up in the Preis der Diana in 2012, but won the following season’s Grosser Preis von Berlin.

Neele had a more talented sister in Night of Magic who was up to the Oaks-winning standard of some her relatives, though instead of contesting the German version, she won the Oaks d’Italia at Milan instead. Her bid for a domestic classic came in the German St Leger in which she finished second.

With Neele’s son Nutan already gaining his classic win at Hamburg, it sets up the intriguing possibility of a Derby-Oaks double for the two sisters because Night of Magic looks to have a live prospect for the Preis der Diana with her first foal Nightflower who lost her maiden tag when winning the Group 2 Diana-Trial at Hoppegarten at the end of May, though she has since finished in mid-division in the French Oaks, the Prix de Diane.

Nightflower, incidentally, is by the Arc winner Dylan Thomas (as is Nymphea), while Nutan is by another son of Danehill, Duke of Marmalade, continuing the use of Danzig-line stallions with mares from this family, a strategy that paid off with Next Desert, a son of the Green Desert stallion Desert Style.

The ‘N’ family’s recent success doesn’t end there. The 2013 German Derby was one classic that got away when favourite Novellist was beaten into second, though he went on to win four other Group 1 contests, including the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and the Grosser Preis von Baden as a four-year-old. The latter race was also won at four by another member of the clan, Night Magic, not to be confused with her near namesake and distant relative, the aforementioned Night of Magic. To make matters worse the pair were foaled in the same year, their paths finally crossing in Italy at the end of their three-year-old season in the Premio Lydia Tesio in which Night Magic finished a close second while Night of Magic was well beaten. Earlier that season, Night Magic had become another member of the family to win the Preis der Diana.

All of the horses beginning with ‘N’ mentioned so far trace back to a grey filly named Nigeria, foaled in 1966, whose own daughters included another Preis der Diana winner, Novelle, successful in the German Oaks in 1983. This is also the family of Nebos, a multiple Group 1 winner who was Germany’s Horse of The Year in 1980 and the sire of Derby winner Laroche mentioned earlier on.

An English classic winner also turns up in the wider family, as the great grandam of the 1996 2000 Guineas winner Island Sands was a half-sister to Naxos, the grandam of both Nigeria and Nebos. Naxos was yet another Preis der Diana winner, also successful in the Schwarzgold-Rennen, in 1953.

Here we pick up the thread of the German Derby again, because Naxos was a full sister to Neckar who two years earlier had won the Deutsches Derby before enjoying a long and successful career at stud.

This family became established in Germany in the 1920s following the importation of the Italian mare Nella da Gubbio, the catalyst for all those names beginning with ‘N’. Bred by the legendary Federico Tesio, Nella da Gubbio was out of a half-sister to the dam of Tesio’s unbeaten champion Nearco, later sire of Nasrullah and grandsire of Northern Dancer.

Nella da Gubbio was the great grandam of Neckar, the 1951 German Derby winner, but by then she already had three winners of the race among her descendants. A year before Neckar, the race went to Nella da Gubbio’s grandson Niederländer, while in 1936 Nella da Gubbio’s own daughter Nereide (pictured above) set a record time for the Deutsches Derby which was not to be broken until Lando was successful nearly sixty years later.

‘Wonderfilly’ Nereide was unbeaten in ten starts, her other wins including both German fillies’ classics and a beating of the subsequent dual Arc-winning filly Corrida (subject of this recent post) in Nazi Germany’s big race, the ‘Braune Band’ at Munich. At stud, Nereide died foaling the last of just three foals, though the second of them, Nordlicht, emulated his dam by winning the 1944 German Derby (he also won the Austrian version). Nordlicht was the subject of this post by Frank Mitchell which generated some interesting debate about Nordlicht’s purported owner.

A summary of Nutan’s female line

  • 2012 Nutan (2015 Deutsches Derby winner)
  • 2004 Neele (dam of 2012 Preis der Diana runner-up Nymphea)
  • 1997 Night Teeny (half-sister to 1996 Diana winner Night Petticoat, herself dam of 2002 Derby winner Next Desert and 2003 Diana winner Next Gina)
  • 1983 Nightrockette
  • 1977 Nightlife (half-sister to 1983 Diana winner Novelle)
  • 1966 Nigeria
  • 1957 Nona
  • 1950 Naxos (1953 Diana winner and sister to 1951 Derby winner Neckar)
  • 1941 Nixe
  • 1935 Nanon (half-sister to 1936 Derby/Diana winner Nereide, herself dam of 1944 Derby winner Nordlicht, and to dam of 1951 Derby winner Niederländer)
  • 1924 Nella da Gubbio