Henk Grewe has two rolls of the dice in Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as he prepares to saddle both Mr Hollywood and Sisfahan.
The trainer will travel to Paris for the autumn highlight in a bid to emulate Torquator Tasso, who caused an upset in 2021 when becoming the most recent of three German-trained winners in the race.
Mr Hollywood is the younger of Grewe’s two contenders, a three-year-old who finished second to Fantastic Moon in the German Derby and was then second again when contesting the Grosser Preis von Baden last time out.
Though conditions are unlikely to be perfect for the colt in Paris, with good to soft ground anticipated, Grewe is still keen to take the opportunity with Mr Hollywood, whose owners include Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani.
“For Mr Hollywood the decision was made two weeks ago, we don’t often have horses who are good enough to run in this race and we want to take the chance to run in the race,” the trainer said.
“We hoped the ground would be soft but it will be good on Sunday, but he will run.”
Reflecting on Mr Hollywood’s last two runs, Grewe was encouraged by his performances in defeat and feels a slightly different tactical approach could have edged him nearer still to victory.
He said: “In the Deutsches Derby we took the decision to stay on the inside and the winner took the outside and that was the best lane. He was in the wrong lane, it was not the mistake of the jockey, it was a mistake of mine and the owner.
“I’m not sure we’d have been the winner, but we’d have been much closer. In Baden-Baden it was a strange race, there was no pace in the race and we had to go in front.
“He was in front all the race and we had to take the outside rail, in the last 100 metres it opened on the left side for the winner so he could beat us just a neck.
“We were very happy with him because we had not worked him too much before Baden-Baden, we think he improved a lot since that race.”
As for the ground, Grewe added: “He can handle the good ground, but he’s better on soft ground or heavy ground. He has some problems with his hooves and shoes and that is the only reason why he is not good on hard ground.”
Grewe’s second runner in the contest is Sisfahan, the 2021 German Derby winner who came close to fellow Arc entrant Simca Mille in the Grosser Preis von Berlin but was last of all in the Grosser Preis von Baden when last seen.
“The form before in Berlin was very good, he was second and beaten about half a length by Simca Mille but in Baden that was not a good race,” said Grewe.
“The jockey went too early with him and he is a speed horse, you have to wait with him and go to the other side to pass horses into the second position.
“It was much too early for him and he is an older horse, he didn’t like it and he completely stopped in the race.”
Explaining his reasoning for the Arc run, the trainer said: “For Sisfahan it is a dream of the owners, Cologne was soft so we decided to go to Longchamp on Sunday.”
Grewe is relaxed despite having two runners in what is arguably the biggest race of the season, something he puts down to the underdog status of both horses.
He said: “At the moment the pressure is not too big because we are not the favourite or second favourite, we are an outsider. We are very pleased to have our runners in the race and the pressure is not too high for us.”