In the 28th running of the Grade 1 Japan Cup at Tokyo racecourse today, the 4yo colt Screen Hero, who was having his first start at Grade 1 level, proved too strong for a very good field when we crossed the line 1/2 length in front.
The race was not run as quickly as in some previous years, with one of the outsiders Never Bouchon heading straight to the front. The veteran galloper Cosmo Bulk, having his 5th start in the Japan Cup, also came across from his outside barrier, and these two horses led the field at an average pace which would generally be considered slow in Japan.
Equal favorite Vodka started brilliantly, and jockey Yasunari Iwata settled her on the fence just behind the leaders. The other equal favorite Deep Sky was taken back to the rear of the field, and sat outside the three foreign challengers, Purple Moon, Papal Bull and Sixties Icon who raced close to each other on the inside at the back of the field.
Mirco Demuro who had taken the ride on Screen Hero, punched his horse out of the gates, and was able to settle 6th one off the fence from his 16 barrier, in a great piece of riding that eventually allowed his horse to win the race. Meisho Samson, who along with the two equal favorites Vodka and Deep Sky, was one of 3 past winners of the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) in the race, settled midfield on the fence.
The pace of the race picked up as the field headed into the long curving turn heading into the straight, and Matsurida Gogh (5th favorite in the race) took off around the field to go up outside Never Bouchon at the top of the straight. Vodka never looked like a winning chance on the inside, but she was steadily making ground. Through the middle of the field, Screen Hero came with his very strong run, and Deep Sky began to charge down the outside.
In the final stages of the race, Screen Hero hit the lead under strong riding by Demuro with Deep Sky trying to bridge the gap. But Screen Hero battled on too well, and won the race by 1/2 length from Deep Sky in his first ever attempt at Grade 1 level. Vodka fought on bravely down the straight, and just grabbed Matsurida Gogh on the line to finish in 3rd place. Up and coming Oken Bruce Lee finished very well along the inside to be 5th, Meisho Samson battled along on the fence for 6th, and early leader Never Bouchon fought on for 7th.
The best finishing foreign participant was Purple Moon in 9th, Sixties Icon was 13th and Papal Bull was 14th.
Screen Hero is a 4yo colt by Grass Wonder out of a Sunday Silence mare Running Heroine, and is trained by Yuichi Shikato. He was bred by Shadai Farm, and Teruya Yoshida (who owns Shadai Farm) retains ownership.
© Japan Association for International Racing and Stud Book (JAIRS). All Rights Reserved.