Saturday’s Group 1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) at Tokyo Racecourse in Japan served as the first autumn start for 10-length winner of the Prix d’Ispahan (G1, 1,800m), A Shin Hikari, and Dubai Turf (G1, 1,800m) victor Reel Steel, while 2015 Horse of the Year Maurice was entered off a runner-up effort in the August Sapporo Kinen (G2, 2,000m).
Race favorite Maurice, under British jockey Ryan Moore, showcased a magnificent stretch-run to claim this year’s Tenno Sho (Autumn), marking his fifth G1 triumph. All of his other wins at the highest level were at the mile distance and this is his first win in his third attempt at a longer distance than 2,000m. The 5-year-old son of Screen Hero now has 10 wins, two seconds and a third in his 17 career-starts and will either aim for the Hong Kong Cup, or else try to defend his title in the Hong Kong Mile. Today’s victory marks trainer Noriyuki Hori’s 10th and Ryan Moore’s sixth JRA-G1 win, and first for both of them since claiming the Mile Championship together with Maurice last year.
The race broke evenly with A Shin Hikari taking the lead from the innermost stall and defending champion Lovely Day hustled up to chase the leader after breaking from the farthest one. Maurice took a three-wide trip in sixth, made headway rounding the final turn, entered the stretch in fourth, drew even with the tiring leaders 300 meters out and charged home crossing the finish line a 1-1/2-length winner.
“He’s a very good horse, he’s strong at a mile and very hard to beat. Today I thought 2,000 meters was probably his best performance. He’s very strong, he’s got a good turn of foot and he was dominant today. He couldn’t have been more impressive. He has a big heart, big lungs and at a mile he could go further so the horse wasn’t too concerned about the distance today,” commented Ryan Moore after the race.
This year’s Dubai Turf champion and seventh pick Real Steel also ran wide a few lengths behind the winner in mid-pack and although was late to make his bid, showed a powerful stretch drive to pick off all of his front runners besides the winner 100 meters out for the runner-up seat.
Sixth choice Staphanos was unhurried near the rear of the field earlier, and after kicking into gear from a second-to-last position at the top of the straight, swooped past most of his opponents, clocked the fastest last three furlong drive, which was a tie with Real Steel, and caught Ambitious in the final strides to finish 1-1/4-lengths behind Real Steel for third.
Fractious from post-parade to gate, second favorite A Shin Hikari set the pace but weakened 400 meters out and fizzled to 12th. “It turned out that we led the field, but he wasn’t in his usual spirit today. He’s a complicating horse and I hope we’ll do better in our next start,” said Yutaka Take.
Watch the race replay here (Maurice and Moore are wearing the number eight saddle towel):
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