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'Perfect' Wonderful Moon towers over Hamburg Derby rivals

The kaleidoscope of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe picture received a vigorous shake of the colours over the weekend, with the crowning of four Classic winners at Epsom and Chantilly, as well as the eclipse of Enable at the hands of Ghaiyyath at Sandown.

This Sunday's Deutsches Derby at Hamburg could see another challenger for Europe's premier prize emerge from a different quarter, as Wonderful Moon puts a big domestic reputation on the line. 

A look at his record up to this point might leave you to wonder how Wonderful Moon has escaped wider attention outside Germany.

His crowning achievement at two was a 12-length romp in a Group 3 at Krefeld, with his victims from that day including Tickle Me Green, who finished a narrowly beaten third in the main French 1,000 Guineas trial this May. 

Two straightforward trial successes have reinforced a rating of 112, a mark matched only by English King in any Derby or Oaks prep in Britain or Ireland, and a pound better than his sire Sea The Moon managed before turning the 2014 Deutsches Derby into a procession. 

Trainer Henk Grewe is not playing the traditional game of expectation management ahead of Sunday. 

"We are very excited because he is favourite and he has done everything perfectly," said Cologne-based Grewe. "He worked very well on Monday morning and I think the ground will be on the soft side which will help him. We are very positive about Sunday. 

"He is now a horse with much more substance and he has matured mentally as well. He is perfect."

The man onboard will be just about the best qualified available to judge the merits of Wonderful Moon, having won seven Derbies at Hamburg as well as the Arc with Danedream. 

And Andrasch Starke believes there is still more to come.

Starke said: "I think he is the best three-year-old around and, while he didn't win quite so easily last time, before that he was very impressive. Last time he just did what he had to do and he wasn't 100 per cent fit.

"With a bit of speed in the race I think he'll show his best, I'm very confident."

Despite his Krefeld effort Wonderful Moon was not the best two-year-old in Germany, or even his own yard, thanks to stablemate and Horse of the Year, Rubaiyat. 

While Rubaiyat has stuck to a mile this year, the Grewe team exercise a Ballydoyle-like grip on the Derby, with Dicaprio, Adrian and Only The Brave all due to line up as well.

"It's always good to have competition within the stable," said Starke. "20 years ago when I was the stable jockey for Andreas Schutz, we had plenty of good horses and I had tremendous success, especially in the Derby. It was always difficult to pick the right one!

"If there is a threat to Wonderful Moon I wouldn’t be surprised if it was another of ours."

Sea The Moon never made it to the Arc while Danedream had to be supplemented before her famous triumph in 2011.

"If he wins on Sunday we will look at international targets for him in the autumn, with the Arc the most probable," said Grewe, who has has already made the entry for Longchamp. "But first we have to see how good he is."

It is usually pretty hard for the German handicapper to get too carried away but, if Wonderful Moon continues along his current path of progression, don't be surprised to seem him in Paris come October.

 

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