James McDonald will be hoping for a quick return...
On Sunday the Sei Ishizaka-trained 2012 Fillies Triple Crown champ Gentildonna made history as the first three-year-old filly ever to win the Japan Cup when she enjoyed a thrilling win over last year’s Fillies Triple Crown title holder and hot favourite Orfevre.
The flying daughter of Deep Impact scored her fourth major career success in the ¥$250 million Grade 1 Japan Cup (2400m) at Tokyo Racecourse accounting for a class international field.
Ridden by Yasunari Iwata Gentildonna overcame a wide barrier draw (15) and was able to beat home 2011 Japanese Horse of the Year Orfevre by a mere nose.
Marring the controversial 32nd Japan Cup result was that the eventual winner bumped the second past the post off the line in the thrilling two horse battle down the final 200m of the straight.
Connections of Orfevre, who was coming off a similarly close second in the Prix de l’Arc de Triopmhe, lodged a protest for interference but after a 20 minute wait the protest was dismissed and Gentildonna retained her title of the Japan Cup winner 2012 while her jockey, who made it back-to-back Japan Cups having also won aboard the now retired Buena Vista 12 months ago, received a two day suspension.
The Japan Cup trifecta was then completed by second favourite Rulership, who made up plenty of ground after missing the jump, ahead of fourth placed Dark Shadow.
“I should have done a better job of escorting her through the race,” an apologetic Iwata said post-race.
“We bumped into Orfevre a little bit and I can’t deny it’s left a bitter taste in my mouth.
“For that I am sorry, but please credit the horse because it’s no easy feat for a three-year-old filly to beat an incredible racehorse like Orfevre.”
Orfevre’s trainer Yasutoshi Ikee was disappointed and angry over the result but was still over the moon with the performance of his mare.
“There was space on the inside. He (Iwata) didn’t have to move her next to Orfevre. But it’s the JRA’s decision. All we can do is obey,” he said.
“I’m proud of my horse, though. He [sic] ran his [sic] heart out.”
Disappointments of the race included last year’s Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux (8th) and Arc winner Solemia who bowed out of racing with a below par 13th (of 17).
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