Red Faix Resumes At Chukyo
The top-level racing action in Japan on March 26 is at Nagoya’s Chukyo Racecourse,with the running of the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen, a 1200m sprint on turf.
Six-year-old grey Red Falx raced over dirt last summer but his new partnership with Mirco Demuro saw him move to turf in July and notch the G3 CBC Sho (1200m), his first graded stakes win, recording his final 3 furlongs in a time of 32.6 seconds.
Next up was the main event, the G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m), and Red Falx, as the third pick, swept past Big Arthur and Mikki Isle in the stretch to claim victory.
After that, however, Red Falx’s excursion to Hong Kong saw him produce a completely lacklustre performance in the G1 Hong Kong Sprint (1200m), finishing 12th.
Now, he returns to the track for the first time since returning to Japan and, unproven since his Hong Kong flub, he is hard to assess. He is, however, back at the same venue and distance as the CBC Sho and victory could well be his.
Australian-bred mare Melagrana , as race favourite, won her last start, the G3 Ocean Stakes (1200m) on 4 March at Nakayama.
She moved sharply from midfield to win her first graded race, her fourth win in her five most recent outings. It will be her first G1 bid; in fact, Melagrana has never even run at G2 level, but she does claim a strong win over the Chukyo 1200m at a lower level.
“She had lost more weight than I’d expected last race,” says trainer Manabu Ikezoe.
“But she has gained that weight back now, came back quickly from her last start and this week we’ll just give her a blowout to let off steam. I don’t see her lacking anything.”
Shuji is looking to rally after going to the gate as the favourite in his last start, the G3 Hankyu Hai (1400m), and coming up short, finishing eighth, seven lengths off the winner Talking Drum.
Shuji had, however, seemed primed to become the next big thing when he captured the G2 Hanshin Cup (1400m) the race before last. Eyes will be on what he can do this week in the mornings.
“Last week, he gave us a good time and his movement was good,” says trainer Naosuke Sugai. “The distance is right this time and he has a fourth in the G1 Sprinters Stakes and ample ability.”
Let’s Go Donki is another of the six females nominated for the race. As a five-year-old, Let’s Go Donki is back in form, coming off a win in the G3 Kyoto Himba Stakes (1400m), her first win since she captured the G1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) over 1600m as a three-year-old.
Last year, Let’s Go Donki took on this race and finished in eighth, four lengths from the winner. Last summer, in Hokkaido, she placed third in two 1200m G3 events and seems to be gaining prowess over the distance.
Trainer Tomoyuki Umeda said: “On 16 March, the jockey rode her in work and gave her a sharp run over the uphill course.
Her time was in the 50-second range and she ran solidly to the end. It’s over six furlongs this time but she has sufficient ability to handle it. If she gets a nice clean run, I think she has ample chance.”
Another to watch is Seiun Kosei , runner-up to Dance Director in the G3 Silk Road Stakes (1200m). Seiun Kosei raced over dirt until last spring and switched to turf in May.
He has proven to be consistent with four wins and two seconds in seven starts since, though mostly over 1400m. He has the ability to lead and, if he can dictate the pace, has a chance.