It was 12th again for Japan’s Tokai Trick, as the 9-year-old (8-year-old in Japan) repeated his Caulfield Cup performance in crossing the finish line of the 150th running of the Melbourne Cup on Nov. 2 in 12th place. Tokai Trick, ridden by Shinji Fujita, was running at Flemington Racecourse amid 23 runners in what was touted as one of the best fields ever assembled for the Australian icon.
The race was won by the 6-year-old French-trained, Australian-owned Americain, ridden by champion French rider Gerald Mosse. The American-bred Americain had 2 and 4/5 lengths to spare on runnerup Maluckyday, a 4-year-old gelding, with the 4-year-old colt and race favorite So You Think a half length back in third place.
Americain, who clocked 3 minutes 26.87 seconds over the slow going, gave trainer Alain de Royer Dupre's his first Melbourne Cup win on his first bid. Americain was carrying 54.5 kg, 3.5 kg more than the runnerup, while the race first pick shouldered 56 kg.
The soft ground caused problems for many of the runners and the race was not without its casualties, with 2009 Melbourne winner, Shocking, who was carrying the race top weight of 57 kg, losing a shoe and pulled up lame. Caulfield Cup winner Descarado finished in last place, after being pulled up when his rider believed something was amiss. A post-race examination, however, failed to reveal “any obvious abnormalities.”
As in the Caulfield Cup, rain had considerably softened the Flemington turf for the start of the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday. Tokai Trick, with a 54.5 kg weight allowance, took up a position just fore of midfield and held the rail as he ran smoothly at an easy pace. The son of El Condor Pasa moved up a gear with 600 meters left in the 3,200-meter marathon as he finessed the turn and took the lead. Fujita urged him on with the whip but the final 300 meters saw the Japan veteran unable to hold his ground against the other runners.
Fujita said he had had a tough time of it in the early stages. “We were in danger of hitting the rail amid the jumble in the initial straight but after that it was smooth going.” Steward reports confirmed this later, noting that the rider of Shoot Out had been issued “a severe reprimand” for allowing his mount to “shift in passing the 200 meters on the first occasion, tightening the running of Americain, Maluckyday and Tokai Trick, which got unbalanced and made contact with the running rail.”
“In the backstretch, the pace seemed to drop below 15-15 but he still kept his rhythm,” Fujita said of Tokai Trick, winner of the 3,000-meter Hanshin Daishoten (G2) this past March. “At that pace, from that position, there was nothing that could be done when he didn’t quicken.”
Trainer Kenji Nonaka had generous comments for Tokai Trick. “He made an effort and looked good for a while,” the former jockey said. “It was an excellent learning experience.”
Of the results, Nonaka said, “It’s the same 12th place as the Caulfield Cup, but this was a much better race. He gave it his all. The ground was better than last time but I think it was a bit too soft for Japanese runners. Still, Japan-based horses have good chances in this race and I will give it my best if we have another opportunity to come here,” Nonaka said.
Americain was bred by Wertheimer & Frere and sired by Dynaformer out of the Arazi mare America. He is owned by Melbourne businessmen Gerry Ryan and Kevin Bamford. Americain was purchased by the pair in February 2010 after his 2009 season, which included a G2 win in France and a failed campaign in the United States. He headed into the Melbourne Cup with four consecutive wins, including the G2 Prix Kergorlay in his last start in France and the G3 Geelong Cup in his first Australian start. Americain is the only French-trained galloper to win the Melbourne Cup. He is now 8 for 20.
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