Soul Stirring and Christophe Lemaire win the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) at Tokyo
PICTURE: Masakazu Takahashi
The number of Classics Frankel has won as a sire now matches his achievements on the track after Soul Stirring justified favouritism in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) under Christophe Lemaire for trainer Kazuo Fujisawa.
Soul Stirring had become a first Group 1 winner for Frankel as a sire with a top-level win at Hanshin in December and, despite being turned over when odds-on for the Japanese 1,000 Guineas (Oka Sho, her only defeat so far) in April, she got another major first at Tokyo.
The filly turned into the straight just off the pace but still hard on the bridle. She was pressured when Mozu Katchan broke from the pack to chase her and, just as she came under pressure, she edged right and briefly looked like she might throw the race away.
However, she was soon straightened up under strong driving from Lemaire and more or less looked comfortable from there as was punched out in the last 100 yards to take the win by a length and three-quarters.
Soul Stirring’s first prize works out at just under £870,000, more than the winner of the Derby will take on Saturday week at Epsom. Her career earnings have now surpassed £1.9 million, putting her little more than a million behind her sire.
Lemaire, who also rode Soul Stirring’s dam Stacelita to win the Prix de Diane in 2009, said: “Soul Stirring certainly has inherited the power both from her sire and her dam. I was quite confident coming into this race. I wasn’t sure yet about the distance as it was her first time so I wanted her in a good position, which I did because she is quick out of the gate.”
He added: “She also has a good lasting speed so I was able to give her the go from early at the stretch and sustain our bid right up to the finish.”
Perhaps the most famous winner of the Yushun Himba in recent years was Gentildonna in 2012. She went on to twice win the Japan Cup before travelling to Dubai to take the Sheema Classic in 2014.
Frankel in Europe
While Soul Stirring has been carrying the flag for her sire in the Far East, Frankel is still on the hunt for a first Classic winner in Europe.
He was represented by Dream Castle and Eminent in the 2,000 Guineas and Fair Eva and Queen Kindly in the 1,000 but was no better than fifth in either.
He was represented by just one (well-beaten) filly in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches and none in the Poulains, while neither of the Italian Classics so far have featured a Frankel three-year-old.
Two more European Classics will take place on Sunday – the Italian Derby and German 2,000 Guineas – neither of which will have a representation. However, his main victim Excelebration is represented at Cologne, in a race he won himself.
Frankel never ran in the Derby, indeed he never ran over a mile and a half, but that race is where his strongest immediate chance of a first European Classic winner lies.
He is responsible both for Guineas sixth Eminent, whose dam stayed 1m4f, and more significantly Cracksman, who was promoted to joint-favouritism after Permian, whom he’d already beaten at Epsom, won the Dante at York.
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