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Stunning Deep Impact filly Gentildonna defied the history books on Sunday to score her second successive Japan Cup trophy at Fuschu Racecourse in Tokyo.
Twelve months ago she became the first three-year-old Japan Cup winning filly in history and was crowned the 2012 Japan Horse of the Year.
Since her victory as a 53kg lightweight in the classic last year, Gentildonna had failed to win another race until yesterday’s impressive effort.
Saluting for the punters as the $2.20 favourite this year she added another first to her accolades as the only dual Japan Cup winner in the race’s history.
Coming off a first-up second in the Grade 1 Tenno Sho (2011m) on October 27 Gentildonna was ridden by English hoop Ryan Moore in the 2013 Japan Cup who replaced her regular rider Yasunari Iwata.
“I was delighted to be given the opportunity to ride and she proved what a courageous filly she is,” Moore told At The Races.
Moore also said he didn’t realise how much pressure was on him.
“Maybe being from overseas I was unable to read the papers or know what people were saying about me,” he told ABC News.
After the jump the defending champ settled into a lovely spot just off the leaders in the ¥481 million (AUS$5.2 million) Grade 1 mile and a half handicap.
At the top of the straight however she hit the front earlier than Moore would have liked.
“Luckily she has gears and works up to her top, and she was able to stay in front just long enough,” he said.
Despite that and a big late challenge for $30 roughie Denim And Ruby, Gentildonna held on to win by a nose.
“She proved what a special filly she is,” Moore sadi.
“I just wanted to have a nice position, settle and ride a nice smooth race. Unfortunately it was not the prettiest as they went slow and it was tactical.
“I was in front a bit early but she showed her massive will to win.
“She’s very special and it was a real privilege to ride. On a personal level, I wanted to win this race and I needed a filly as tough and genuine as her to do it.”
In a juicy Japan Cup trifecta result, another outside chance Tosen Jordan rounded out the top three just a neck off the top two.
Fourth place went to Admire Rakti ridden by Australia’s Craig Williams.
Gentlidonna was the 19th locally-trained horse to win the race, now in its 33rd year, and took the record of Japanese horses winning to eight straight.
The best of the internationals was former Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden in fifth.
The other European raiders were all well beaten however with Simenon, fourth in this year’s Melbourne Cup, and the Ed Dunlop-trained Joshua Tree finishing 13th and 17th of 17 runners respectively.
Also disappointing was Hiroyuki Uchida’s four-time Grade 1 hero Gold Ship, second fancy in the Japan Cup betting markets, who finished just two ahead of the last placed Joshua Tree.
Despite rumours, Gentlidonna’s trainer Sei Ishizka dispelled talks of retirement and confirmed she would race on for another season following a well-earned rest.
“She has done a very good job and I will target her at some big races next year,” he said.
A possible assignment upon her return will be another shot at the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic (2410m) at Meydan in March, a race she ran a brave second to behind St Nicholas Abbey this year.
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