O’Donoghue makes good on Promise in Copa Republica Argentina
Irish rider Colm O’Donoghue won his first big race in Japan on Sunday with a win aboard Perform a Promise in the Grade 2 Copa Republica Argentina, a 2,500-meter turf event at Tokyo. Race third pick Perform a Promise topped a field of 12 and turned the tables on favorite Muito Obrigado, whom he beat to the line by 3/4 length.
A 6-year-old son of Stay Gold, Perform a Promise was running for the first time in nearly four months following a poor performance in the Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen in June. He had been scheduled to return in the Kyoto Daishoten at the end of August but was sidelined due to illness.
The lack of a sharpener appeared to do little harm on Sunday as Perform a Promise broke neatly from the No. 6 gate and traveled under 56 kg in midfield amid a slow pace set by Win Tenderness. Stalking him immediately behind on his outside was the 4-year-old Rulership colt Muito Obrigado, running under Hirofumi Shii and 1 kg less.
Rounding into the stretch, the pace picked up sharply as Perform a Promise held his position with Muito Obrigado hot on his heels. The battle for the top was heated with five horses lining up with 200 meters to go and Muito Obrigado closing steadily on the far outside. One hundred meters out, O’Donoghue’s steady urging helped Perform a Promise pull out in front, where he was able to held off a maxed-out Muito Obrigado.
“The trainer really had a lot of confidence in the horse and that helped give me confidence,” O’Donoghue said following the race. “He still had a lot more left,” the 37-year-old native of County Cork said. “He has a tendency to put on the brakes when he gets to the top and he’s not a type that likes to put too much room between the others when he wins. I’ve always dreamt of riding in Japan, so I’m overjoyed to have won my first big race here.”
The 5-year-old gelding Makoto Galahad, a longshot running under only 51 kg, boosted the return on the trifecta to a 5-year-high in third place half a length behind the runnerup. Win Tenderness and Engineer made the board in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
The winning time of the race’s 56th running was 2 minutes 33.7 seconds over a firm track.
O’Donoghue, who had ridden in Japan during the years 2010-2012, began his first stint in Japan in six years last weekend at Tokyo when he picked up two wins and three seconds riding on a highly competitive card that included three other non-Japanese jockeys – Mirco Demuro, Christophe Lemaire and Joao Moreira. This weekend O’Donoghue picked up another two wins from 14 rides.
Perform a Promise, who has only figured out of the top three spots four times in his career, has been enjoying a good year, starting with a win of the Nikkei Shinshun Hai in January, his first Grade 2 win on his first try, and a third-place finish in the Meguro Kinen at the end of May.
He is trained by Japan’s current leading trainer, the Ritto-based Hideaki Fujiwara, who fielded this year’s Grade 1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) champion Epoca d’Oro and won the Copa Republica Argentina for the first time since opening shop in 2001. “I think he suffered under the 58 kg he was asked to carry in the Takarazuka Kinen and he didn’t like the going in the Meguro Kinen,” Fujiwara said of Perform a Promise. “And then he ran a fever just before the Kyoto Daishoten, so we had to withdraw from that. Today, the jockey gave him a perfect ride.”
Perform a Promise is out of the Tanino Gimlet mare I’ll Be Bound and was bred at Hokkaido’s Northern Farm. The Copa Republica Argentina victory was his seventh career win from 15 starts and paid 57 million yen for the win.
Sources (comments): Radio Nikkei