Four overseas raiders will bid to land the JPY864 million (approx. HK$45.87 million G1 Japan Cup (2400m) at Tokyo Racecourse on Sunday (27 November).
France fields a team of three, including three-year-old colts Onesto and Simca Mille, and Grand Glory, a six-year-old mare who finished fifth in last year’s Japan Cup. Germany is sending its three-year-old hotshot Tunnes. Regular partner Bauyrzhan Murzabayev, a Kazakhstan native and Germany’s champion jockey for the past three years, is also getting his first mount in the Japan Cup.
Tunnes, a chestnut like his half-brother 2021 G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) winner Torquator Tasso, is stepping onto the international stage after capturing his first G1 win in the Grosser Preis Von Bayern (2400m) and extending his winning streak to five. He’s only had six races total and, so far, few have gotten close to Holger Renz’s prize colt. Trainer Peter Schiergen is taking on his fifth Japan Cup, his first in six years and hoping to better what was his best performance so far, a sixth-place with Danedream in 2011.
Considered the best candidate amid the French trio for the Japan Cup money is Onesto, who captured the G1 Grand Prix de Paris this summer over the Longchamp 2400m and is to be paired with someone who knows Japan racing perhaps even better than the Japanese – Christophe Lemaire.
Deauville-based Simca Mille was runner-up to Onesto in the same race and is still gunning for his first big win.
Grand Glory, though she failed to win a G1 in her last three starts, finished one ahead of Japan’s Shahryar in the G1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (1993m) this year.
Shahryar, 2021 G1 Japanese Derby (2400m) winner and winner of this year’s G1 Dubai Sheema Classic over 2410m, is being touted as the horse to beat but there is room for doubt and room for a lot of names to find their way to the betting tickets.
Another big name is Danon Beluga. He’s been close to the top, just not in the winner’s circle. He topped Shahryar in their most recent start, the G1 Tenno Sho Autumn (2000m). In a race that ended in blistering times over the final stage, Danon Beluga finished in third, only one and a quarter lengths off the winner.
An interesting contender is Vela Azul, a five-year-old experiencing something of a rebirth after being switched to turf after 16 starts on dirt. A son of Eishin Flash, he won his first graded stakes last out, a G2 over the Hanshin 2400m. He is loving the distance and won a three-win-class race before that, over the Tokyo 2400m. And Ryan Moore, who’s been doing well riding in Japan since mid-month, is expected up.The competition this year is heated and T O Royal, Heart’s Histoire, Boccherini are also receiving a fair share of the attention. Another victory for Japan or a Japan souvenir to take home? One thing for sure, it’s going to be a race to remember.