One of Japan’s greatest horses, Almond Eye, bowed a champion and won an epic edition of the Japan Cup on Sunday with her swan song.
As a match race in three races between the ten best horse in the world, Almond Eye, and Japan’s two best and undefeated three-year-olds in Contrail and Daring Tact, it was the five-year-old mare who rose to the challenge and claimed to be the greatest Victory in her 15-start career.
Almond Eye, ridden by Christophe Lemaire, wins the Victoria Mile lawn race in Tokyo in May 2020. Credit: AP
The market didn’t give any other horse a chance, and $ 61 contender Kiseki made it a true 2,400-yard test that sped to a seemingly unassailable lead only to be chased by Christophe Lemaire on Almond Eye to secure her ninth grade a title.
Lemaire stood in the irons and kissed the crowd after crossing the line before shaking his head in amazement at the winning mare.
The three-star three-year-olds, who won Japan’s respective triple crowns earlier this year, filled the placements with Contrail in second and Daring Tact in third, but never threatened Almond Eye, who was enjoying the pressure from the front.
With 400 yards to go, Kiseki had a 10 lead over Glory Vase and Almond Eye, but Lemaire never panicked and only one horse won with 150 yards to go.
She has an incredible résumé of just 15 career starts – 11 wins, two seconds and a third including two Japan Cups, two Tenno Shos and a Dubai Turf, and her win could potentially put her in the top 4 in the world, if the rankings will be revised next.
In Warrnambool, it was Simon Wilde and Luke Williams who teamed up to bring Count Zero to victory in the 300. Run the 000 dollar Jericho Cup.
The 4,600-yard race proved to be a true test on the soft track, but Williams found the best ground and took his step before the curve to hit the front and stablemate Dambulla trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace and to run Wil John.
Count Zero by Luke Williams wins the Jericho Cup on Sunday at Warrnambool Racecourse. Photo credit: Reg Ryan / Racing Photos
« It’s a real thrill. I’m pretty sure this is the biggest race I’ve ever won, « said Williams after the race, after having raced for about 30 years.
« I ran the track this morning and knew there were some places I could seriously make up ground without doing anything. You had to come to them, of course, which was the second time I did up the hill.
« When they came down to make the final turn, they tried to drive me inside, but I thought ‘no piss off!’. I stayed out a little longer and did the work. «
Wilde said it was a huge thrill to win the Jericho Cup in its third run, launched by the Australian Light War Horse in 2018 in honor of Bill The Bastard’s three-mile race on clay in World War I..
« In the brief history of this race, it was a small goal of ours after we were lucky enough to win the Grand Annual, » said Wilde.
« I love the concept. I think it’s a fantastic race. It has real meaning. It’s not a pop-up race or money robbery like some of the others. It has real depth and meaning and a real honor to win the race. «
Japan Cup, horse racing, Christophe Lemaire
World news – AU – Epic Japan Cup win for Almond Eye, Wilde Jericho Cup at ‘Bool