Monday, 5 December 2011
: Billed as a showdown between past winners Transcending and Espoir City, this year's Japan Cup Dirt did not disappoint when the pair clashed in the G1 feature at Hanshin on Sunday.
First pick and defending champion Transcendmeasured up to expectations by successfully defending his title over second favorite and 2009 champion Espoir City.
With Shinji Fujita in the saddle once again, Transcend, breaking from the widest stall, grabbed the front position early and exerted a powerful drive down the stretch to prevail by a convincing two lengths.
It was the fourth G1 triumph in 10 career wins for the 2011 Dubai World Cup runner-up and puts him on par with triple-crown winner Orfevre in seasonal G1 wins.
In a fierce early battle for the lead it was the defending champion who grabbed the crucial front position by the initial turn.
The five-year-old set the pace with Espoir City and Tosho Freak running abreast two lengths behind, followed by La Verita and Nihonpiro Ours down the backstretch.
The field closed up on the third turn where Espoir City moved up beside Transcend with Tosho Freak right at his heels.
La Verita sat off the pace saving ground while Wonder Acute remained in a rearward inner position before the last turn.
Transcend held his lead and steadily pulled away a furlong out while Espoir City and La Verita duelled for second.
As the winner romped to a clear victory, Wonder Acute skillfully threaded his way between horses and showed a good turn of foot in the final furlong to figure in a photo-finish second, getting the verdict by a nose over Espoir City.
Winning jockey Shinji Fujita said: “I'm happy we were able to defend the title.
“After pressing the pace in our two recent starts, I thought it would be best to send him up front again, so I never hesitated to take the lead even though we were breaking from the widest stall.
“He deserves to cap off the season with a big win like this.”
Winning trainer Takayuki Yasuda said: “To be honest, I did have some doubts after drawing stall no.16. Fujita insisted that he should take the lead and with full confidence in him, I let him do what he thought best.
“After he took the lead, the pace was perfect and our horse showed a strong performance. He has improved remarkably this season.
“We will kick off the next season in the February Stakes and will challenge for the Dubai World Cup once again.”
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