The G1 Tenno Sho Autumn (2000m) at Tokyo Racecourse on Sunday 28 October, 2018 has drawn a field of 13 horses and among those are two old rivals seeking supremacy in one of Japan’s greatest tests.
It is 17 months since Rey De Oro held Suave Richard by three quarters of a length in the May 2017 G1 Tokyo Yushun, the Japanese Derby. The former went on to run second in last year’s G1 Japan Cup and was fourth in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic before returning from a lay-off with a fine G2 victory at Nakayama last month; the latter – fourth in the Arima Kinen last December – won his first two races this year, including a breakthrough G1 win in the Osaka Hai, before a fine third last time out in the G1 Yasuda Kinen at a mile in June.
The two will meet for the first time since their Derby clash.
Suave Richard worked under Mirco Demuro yesterday (24 October), along with two other horses, and was allowed to run at his own pace, clocking 98.1 seconds over 1400m, with the final 600m achieved in 37.7 seconds. His rhythm was good and he quickened spectacularly over the final 200m, covering it in 11.7 seconds.
The four-year-old son of Heart’s Cry has a good first up record so that fact that he has not raced for more than four months raises no concern. He looks in perfect shape and expectations are high.
“I put the other two horses in front of him so he wouldn’t go too fast,” said trainer Yasushi Shono. “I’d say he’s at a perfect place going into the race. He really likes the Tokyo course, and he’s very adept over 2000m.”
Unlike Suave Richard, Rey De Oro took in a lead-up race late last month – the G2 All Comers (2200m). He beat Al Ain by a neck and afterwards was given time off to refresh before returning to Miho on 11 October.
Yesterday, Christophe Lemaire rode Rey De Oro on the flat with a work partner. He ran smoothly and moved inside as he turned into the straight but was still a length behind the other horse at the furlong pole. He responded well to a signal from Lemaire, and finished ahead by half a length. His time was 68 seconds over 1000m with a final 200m of 12.6 seconds.
Trainer Kazuo Fujisawa said that the colt is best suited to racing over Tokyo’s 2000m: “I hope he’ll do his best.”
In hot competition with that dynamic duo is Makahiki, the 2016 Japanese Derby winner, who finished fifth in last year’s Tenno Sho Autumn and fourth in the G1 Japan Cup (2400m). The son of Deep Impact was sidelined thereafter following a fracture and only returned to the track in August. That brought a fine effort though as the five-year-old come from far off the pace to finish second by a nose in the 2000m Sapporo Kinen (G2).
Yutaka Take, who recently surpassed 4,000 JRA wins, including 14 victories across the two editions of the Tenno Sho (eight in the Spring, six in the Autumn), will be Makahiki’s new partner on Sunday.
On Wednesday, Makahiki’s final workout was a breeze up the hill course under a stable rider. Though the workout was low-key, it nonetheless showed off Makahiki’s power as he moved effortlessly up the hill and quickened on his own.
“Last week when Yutaka Take rode him, you could see that they were working as one,” said trainer Yasuo Tomomichi.
“His breathing and his muscle tone are perfect, so this week I just breezed him and he went up the hill with ease,” he added, “I’ve always thought that he would be a perfect match with Take and had wanted him to ride. I’m very glad he’s aboard this time.”
Also looking fine going into the race are last year’s G1 Satsuki Sho hero Al Ain, G1 Takarazuka Kinen winner Mikki Rocket, 2017 Kikuka Sho winner Kiseki and this year’s Dubai Turf second Vivlos.
Last year’s Tenno Sho (Autumn) was run over a sloppy track, but with no rain in the forecast through Sunday at Tokyo, a fast track is expected.