Harp Star (rail) holds fast-finishing Gold Ship (grey) in the Sapporo Kinen
PICTURE: Masakazu Takahashi
Report: Japan, Sunday
Sapporo: Sapporo Kinen (Grade 2) 1m2f, turf, 3yo+
HARP STAR (Hiroyoshi Matsuda/Yuga Kawada) was trimmed to 10-1 (from 12) by William Hill for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe after securing a three-quarter length success from fellow Arc contender Gold Ship.
Both were having their prep runs for Europe’s premier middle-distance Flat race on October 5 and neither harmed their chances of becoming Japan’s first winner of the race.
Settled towards the rear of the 14-strong field early, Kawada guided the daughter of Deep Impact to the front rounding the home turn before holding fast-finishing favourite Gold Ship, with a further five lengths back to Whale Capture in third.
“I’m relieved to get the result,” admitted the winning rider. “Her condition was not 100 per cent [with the Arc in mind] and this was not her favourite course with the short home straight but she broke well and found a nice rhythm in the race. Hopefully things will go smoothly after this.”
Gold Ship ranges from 14-1 to 20-1 for the Arc and his trainer Naosuke Sugai felt he lost little in defeat, having conceded weight to the winner.
Sugai said: “It [defeat] was because of the five-kilogram [11lb] weight difference. I think he showed his strength and it was no disgrace to fail.”
Japan also has impressive Dubai Duty Free winner Just A Way, a general 8-1 chance for the Arc, bound for Paris on the first weekend in October.
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