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Equinox wins this year’s Japan Cup at Tokyo.
Equinox was a class above in this year's Japan cup, easily beating a stellar field which included eight G1 champions from Japan and abroad. Billed as a showdown between the brown colt and this year's Triple Tiara victor Liberty Island, the highest rated horse in the world prevailed while extending his G1 winning streak to six, becoming the third horse in JRA history to do so following T. M. Opera O (2000 ~ 2001) and Lord Kanaola (2012 ~ 2013). Following the footsteps of his sire Kitasan Black who won the Japan Cup in 2016, Equinox has marked a milestone with this victory in becoming the first horse ever to exceed 2 billion yen in earnings (JPY 2,215,446,100). The colt has given his trainer Tetsuya Kimura his seventh JRA-G1 title—his latest being with the colt in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) last month—while jockey Christophe Lemaire, who notched the Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Brede Weg two weeks earlier, scored his 49th overall JRA-G1 win and is now tied with Yutaka Take in landing four Japan Cup titles (Vodka in 2009, Almond Eye in 2018 and 2020), more than any other jockey so far.
The full field of 18 started in front of the packed stands and, as expected, Panthalassa rushed to the front, setting a rapid pace that timed 57.6 seconds in the first 1,000 meters, widening an unmeasurable lead in the backstretch while three-time G1 winner Titleholder followed in second and Equinox a length behind in third. By the last corner, Panthalassa had gradually squandered his huge lead but was still about 100 meters ahead of the others in early stretch when the hot favorite unleashed his signature stretch drive. The top-rated horse in the world easily caught Titleholder 400 meters out and then inherited the lead from the used-up pacesetter just before the 200-meter marker to cruise to an incredible four-length victory.
Trainer Tetsuya Kimura:
"Equinox was able to come into the race in good condition. He was aggressive from the start and was relaxed during the race despite the fast pace of the frontrunner. With Equinox extending his G1 winning streak for over a year, the pressure was so great before the Japan Cup that I felt relieved when he won the race. He is a very well-balanced horse—shape of his hooves, bone structure and firm muscle—everything is perfectly balanced. It's a miraculous combination. So, we try to maintain this balance when we train him."
Jockey Christophe Lemaire:
"I felt happy and relieved. Many emotions came to my mind because it was an unbelievable race. Horseracing fans and lovers were able to see something very special. He is a top horse and can adapt to any kind of race or surface. When we came back in front of the huge happy crowd who witnessed the race, I became very emotional. As a professional jockey for many years, I work hard to ride to perfection, so today was very special. Equinox is easy to ride—he knows his job very well and he doesn't use too much energy—so riding a horse like him is a pleasure and I felt very privileged to be in the saddle of such a fantastic horse."
Three-year-old Triple Crown filly Liberty Island took a ground-saving trip behind the eventual winner in fourth. Although unable to match the speed of the winner, the second pick did not disappoint, displaying her good turn of foot and pinned Titleholder 250 meters out then Panthalassa 150 meters to the wire for second place.
Fifth choice and 2022 Best Three-Year-Old Filly Stars on Earth was settled behind Equinox and right next to Liberty Island most of the way. After entering the stretch side by side, the two fillies rallied briefly in early stretch but while unable to keep up with the eventual runner-up, Stars On Earth closed tenaciously for third while holding off a late charge by Do Deuce.
French raider and tenth pick Iresine was a touch late out of the gate, traveled on the rails in mid-pack and showed effort in the stretch but lacked the needed kick, unable to reach contention, to finish ninth.
Trainer Jean-Pierre Gauvin after the race:
"I think Iresine ran a good race. The gate was different from France, so he couldn't get a good start, and he was unable to run in his usual style because the pace was too fast. However, Marie and I are satisfied with his performance. I have no regrets about racing him in the Japan Cup, and I'm happy that he was able to finish the race without any problem."
Jockey Marie Velon:
"I'm very happy with Iresine. He gave his best. The race did not develop in his favor but he tried hard to keep up with the fast pace and strived in the straight. Tokyo Racecourse is a wonderful racecourse. Equinox was just spectacular."
4th: (5) Do Deuce—hugged rails around 6th, swung wide entering lane for clear path, chased
leaders with 2nd fastest closing speed.
5th: (3) Titleholder—led the field in 2nd, outdistanced from frontrunner, ran persistently in stretch
but overtaken by rivals in last 400m.
6th: (10) Danon Beluga—reserved in 11th by rails, angled out at top stretch to make bid, passed
rivals with tied 3rd fastest final kick.
7th: (9) Vela Azul—ran 2-wide around 13th, switched to inside at lane, good effort with tied 3rd
fastest late drive.
8th: (4) Studley—eased back to 8th after good start, met brief traffic at top stretch, unable to
10th: (14) Deep Bond—settled 2-wide in 6th, turned final corners wide, even paced at stretch.
11th: (15) Shonan Bashitto—traveled 3-wide in around 8th, never reached contention.
12th: (8) Panthalassa—surged out to take command as expected, widened gap, ran gamely until
13th: (16) Impress—slow break, traveled 2nd from rear, passed tired rivals at stretch.
14th: (6) Forward Again—broke smoothly, settled toward rear, never fired.
15th: (18) Win Erfolg—trailed in rear, advanced after final corner.
16th: (11) Trust Kenshin—ran 3rd from rear after poor break, angled out to make bid but no
17th: (12) Chestnut Coat—rated 3rd-4th from rear, never a threat.
18th: (13) Kurino Megami Ace—traveled 2-wide in 11th, weakened after final turn.