This Sunday, November 25, Tokyo Racecourse will host the 32nd edition of the Japan Racing Association’s richest race, the 2012 Japan Cup, with three horses that ran in the iconic Melbourne Cup engaged for the classic.
The British-trained trio of Jakkalberry, Red Cadeaux and Mount Athos all come via a run in the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday November 6 and will now take on a crack field of stayers in the ¥521 million (AUS$6.1 million) Grade 1 Japan Cup (2400m).
Of the three it was the Australian-owned Jakkalberry who was the best finisher at Flemington improving on their Caulfield Cup 13th to cross third, overcoming barrier 19 of 24, behind Green Moon in the world’s richest handicap.
Storming Home stallion Jakkalberry was then followed by the Luca Cumani-trained Mount Athos who ran a first-up fifth and then last year’s Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux who was six lengths off the winner in eighth.
It is Geoffrey Freer Stakes winner Mount Athos however who is the shortest-priced of these hopefuls in the Japan Cup betting markets at bookies around the country paying around $9, Cumani’s fingers crossed for a better run second-up.
“Hopefully this Cup won’t come too soon for him after the other (Melbourne) Cup we won’t mention,” Cumani said on his website www.lucacumani.com.
“At least the pressure is off on this occasion seeing as we have little to lose with no general expectation that he will beat the likes of Orfevre.”
Mount Atho’s Japan Cup is equal with that of boom local youngster Fenomeno who was runner-up in both the Japanese Derby and the Tenno Sho (Autumn).
The lightly-raced Hirofumi Toda-trained three-year-old certainly holds a distinct advantage at Tokyo having run top two in their five starts at the track, Sunday to be just their ninth race start.
Sunday’s Japan Cup will be a big test for all three Melbourne Cup runners with a hugely talented line-up of gallopers engaged in the rich handicap.
Of the 12 Japanese-trained horses in the race nine are Grade 1 winners including Solemia and Orfevre who finished one-two with just a neck between them in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France last start.
Last season’s Japanese Triple Crown champion Orfevre is the current $3 favourite in the Japan Cup odds after being gunned down in the final stride of the Arc at the Aussie bookies followed by the Katsuhiko Sumii-trained Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Hong Kong) winner Rulership, Japan’s Filly’s Triple Crown winner Gentildonna and Solemia who arrived in Japan on November 14 after the first flight of their career and who will be vying for a lucrative 80 million yen bonus as the Arc winner.
Along with Yorskshire Cup winner Red Cadeaux, Melbourne Cup third place-getter Jakkalberry and Mount Athos the other invitee in this year’s Japan Cup field is then fellow British raider Sri Putra – winner of the York Stakes back in July.
However it would seem the Japan Cup will be the local’s for the taking with the last visitor to win the race being Alkaased back in 2005 who still holds the current race record of 2:22.1.
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