2015 Japan Cup (G1) - Profile of Invited HorsesTrip To Paris
2015 Gold Cup
Trip To Paris is a progressing four-year-old stayer who has enjoyed a successful season this year, during which he has scored four wins including a G1 victory in the Gold Cup, two seconds and a third while proving extremely consistent in finishing within the first five in all ten starts. Trainer Edward Dunlop, who has brought a number of runners to Japan and has succeeded in a back-to-back victory with Snow Fairy in the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup (2010, 2011), will be saddling his most recent prize stayer in the Japan Cup since Joshua Tree in 2013 (17th).
Trip To Paris kicked off his racing career as a two-year-old with a disappointing 14th in a field of 16 at Sandown but quickly notched his first win a week later under Ryan Moore on an all-weather track. He capped off the season with a runner-up effort at Newmarket but was still unable to show much in the first three starts of his three-year-old campaign. He registered his second career win in the Canisbay Bloodstock Handicap, rated well off the pace early and demonstrating a strong hold once taking command with a little over a furlong to go for a comfortable 1-3/4-length victory.
He concluded his 2014 season with just the win out of seven starts, but his big break came in the following spring coming off a credible fourth in his four-year-old debut, in which he finished strongly despite some disadvantage at the turn, and the talented Champs Elysees gelding found his winning ways and quickly progressed, notching three consecutive wins prior to his runner-up effort in his group-race debut in the 3,270-meter Henry II Stakes. He proceeded to land his first group-race title at the highest level in the Gold Cup, stamping his claim as a prominent turf runner with staying power to cover distances between 2,400 meters to 4,000 meters.
Carrying extra weights in his following group-race starts in Europe, he finished third and fifth in the Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup, respectively, before embarking on his overseas challenge to Australia for the Caulfield Cup over 2,400 meters and the 3,200-meter Melbourne Cup. With much lighter weight to carry, Trip To Paris turned in a fast closing finish from racing near the rear to miss by 1/2 length to race favorite Mongolian Khan, raising expectations towards his following start in the Melbourne Cup. Well backed and starting from stall 14 in a 24-horse field, the bay gelding was kept in a prominent position from early in the race but was unable to challenge while staying well for fourth, two lengths behind the winner.
2015 Grand Prix de Paris
(Photo: Yasufumi Sawada)
Erupt has turned in a quite impressive debut season, unbeaten in his first four starts including a group-one victory in the Grand Prix de Paris, and coming off a fifth-place finish in his first test against his seniors in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe for his first overseas challenge in the Japan Cup.
Unraced as a two-year-old, the Dubawi colt was an immediate winner in a maiden over 2,200 meters at Lyon Parilly and proceeded to score his second win in a listed race there before landing his first group-race victory in the Prix du Lys at Chantilly, in which he ran close to the leaders and held off his rivals after taking the lead about 2-1/2 furlongs out and prevailed by a neck.
Trained by Francis-Henri Graffard, the three-year-old colt was recognized as an emerging Arc prospect after his group-one victory in the Grand Prix de Paris, run over the same course and distance as the most prestigious French G1 which attracts some of the best middle-distance horses from around the world.
While he experienced his first defeat in the Prix Niel following a two-month layoff over an extremely soft going which the green colt was unable to handle, finishing fourth in a seven-horse field, the Niarchos Family-owned colt did not disgrace in his fifth-place finish in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe behind the victor and multiple-G1 winner Golden Horn and other proven G1 winners such as Flintshire and Treve.
A progressing colt, improving with every start, he is considered to act best on good to firm going and over 2,400 meters which he has raced in all but one of his six career starts.
2015 Grosser Preis von Bayern
(Photo: Kennosuke Sasaki)
Ito from Germany registered his first G1 victory in the Grosser Preis von Bayern on November 1, in which he took command in the first furlong, widened the lead to two lengths coming into the straight and further quickened for a convincing victory, four lengths clear of odds-on favorite Prince Gibraltar. His owner and trainer who brought Ivanhowe, who also came off a win in the Grosser Preis von Bayern, to the Japan Cup last year, hope for the bay to exceed Ivanhowe’s sixth-place finish in partnership with the same jockey Filip Minarik.
Finishing third in his debut start as a three-year-old in April last year, Ito broke his maiden a month later in the following Kampler-Cup under Filip Minarik with whom he has partnered in all his races since. The son of Adlerflug marked another win in the following Preis von Engal & Volkers Commercial Mulheim with an impressive six-length victory before concluding the season with a disappointing eighth despite being posted race favorite.
Ito kicked off this season with an overwhelming 16-length victory in the Preis des Winzervereins Oberrotweil, which was only the beginning of his strong performances that followed. He scored another wire-to-wire five-length victory in the following listed race, the Grosser Preis der Gesundheitswirtschaft, before his first group race in the Grosser Preis der Badischen Unternehmer, which he claimed with another wire-to-wire victory, this time with a four-length margin.
2015 Preis von Europa
(Photo: Kennosuke Sasaki)
Three-year-old Nightflower celebrated her first G1 victory this fall in the Preis von Europa, in which she ruled over a mixed field of older horses gallantly by a good two-length margin. Her trainer Peter Schiergen, teamed with jockey Andrasch Starke, will be aiming to improve the sixth-place Japan Cup finish they marked with Arc winner Danedream four years ago.
Partnered with Andrasch Starke, who is currently racing under a short-term license in Japan from the end of October, the Dylan Thomas filly was sent to post favorite in her only race as a two-year-old last year where she inherited the lead after entering the lane, but was tagged just before the finish line for a 3/4-length second. She commenced her three-year-old season in France with two runner-up efforts; the first at Maisons-lafitte to subsequent Prix de Diane third-place finisher Little Nightingale by four lengths, and then at Chantilly where this time she finished 1-1/2 lengths behind Desiree Clary, who later registered a fourth in the Prix de Diane.
Back in Germany, the chestnut filly captured her first win in the G2 Diana-Trial in her fourth career start where, as race-favorite, she took over the lead at the furlong marker after chasing the leaders in third to land a comfortable 2-1/2 length victory. Sent to France again to make her first bid at the highest level in the G1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks), she was keen early and had nothing to give at the critical stages after making headway along the outside, finishing eighth. Sent off third favorite in the Preis der Diana (German Oaks) in August, she settled on the rails in sixth after breaking from a wide stall and closed well to catch all but was 3/4-lengths short of the winner Turfdonna.
As second pick in the Grosser Preis von Baden, Nightflower tracked the leader in second and assumed the lead two furlongs out but was caught by a fast closing Prince Gibraltar in the last 100 meters for a 1-3/4 length second. Three weeks later, sent off as third favorite in the Preis von Europa, the filly traveled wide throughout the 2,400-meter trip in around sixth and advanced well to grasp the lead a furlong out to best the field of G1 runners in a perfect two-length G1 win.