2022 News

November 29, 2022


Champions Cup (G1) - Data Analysis

Year-end JRA dirt champion decider
The Champions Cup was established under the name Japan Cup Dirt in 2000, but has changed its course and distance over the years. In 2014, it was renamed Champions Cup and moved to Chukyo Racecourse, where it has since been held as an 1,800m dirt race. Being one of only two JRA dirt G1 races, the Champions Cup attracts the best dirt horses that have all set their sights on this race. Let’s now look for some trends in the race based on results in the eight years since 2014, when the race was moved to Chukyo Racecourse.

Winners come from four races
The last eight winners had all contested the JBC Classic, the Mile Championship Nambu Hai, the JBC Ladies’ Classic, or the Nihon TV Hai in their previous race. If we expand our analysis to include all Top 3 finishers, we should similarly consider runners coming from the Miyako Stakes or Musashino Stakes (two prep races), in addition to the races mentioned above. [Table 1]

[Table 1] Performance by major previous race (last eight years)
Previous race Performance
[1st-2nd-3rd-4th or lower]
Win ratio Top 2 ratio Top 3 ratio
JBC Classic 4-2-2-27 11.4% 17.1% 22.9%
Mile Championship Nambu Hai 2-2-1-5 20.0% 40.0% 50.0%
JBC Ladies' Classic 1-0-0-2 33.3% 33.3% 33.3%
Nihon TV Hai 1-0-0-1 50.0% 50.0% 50.0%
Miyako Stakes 0-2-3-25 0% 6.7% 16.7%
Musashino Stakes 0-2-0-21 0% 8.7% 8.7%
JBC Sprint 0-0-1-2 0% 0% 33.3%
Elm Stakes 0-0-1-1 0% 0% 50.0%
Note: Only includes races contested by runners that finished in the Top 3 of the Champions Cup.

Winners of the JBC Classic struggle
As shown in Table 1, the JBC Classic has proved to be the most important prep race for the Champions Cup. However, winners of this race have historically struggled in the Champions Cup with performance of [0-1-0-6], and have also often failed to live up to expectations as race favorites. In other words, we should not place our confidence in runners that have only achieved a victory in the JBC Classic last time out. [Table 2]

[Table 2] Champions Cup performance by winners of the JBC Classic of the same year (last eight years)
Year Winners of JBC Classic Favoritism Finish
2014 Copano Rickey 1st favorite 12th
2015 Copano Rickey 1st favorite 7th
2016 Awardee 1st favorite 2nd
2017 Sound True 2nd favorite 11th
2018 K T Brave 2nd favorite 11th
2019 Chuwa Wizard 5th favorite 4th
2020 Chrysoberyl 1st favorite 4th
2021 Not running in the Champions Cup

Focus on third- and fourth-placed runners in the JBC Classic
Looking at performances by runners in terms of their finish in the JBC Classic, we find many examples of strong performances by runners that had finished 3rd or 4th in the JBC Classic last time out. In 2021, T O Keynes and Chuwa Wizard respectively finished 1st and 2nd in the Champions Cup after having secured 4th and 3rd place in the JBC Classic in their previous race. Other examples of runners that have bounced back from 3rd or 4th place in the JBC Classic to win the Champions Cup include Chuwa Wizard in 2020 (3rd in JBC Classic), Sound True in 2016 (3rd in JBC Classic), and Hokko Tarumae in 2014 (4th in JBC Classic). In addition, no runners have advanced from a 5th or lower finish in the JBC Classic to the top places in the Champions Cup over the last eight years. [Table 3]

[Table 3] Among runners that had contested the JBC Classic last time out, performance by finish in that race (last eight years)
Finish in previous race Performance
[1st-2nd-3rd-4th or lower]
Win ratio Top 2 ratio Top 3 ratio
1st 0-1-0-6 0% 14.3% 14.3%
2nd 0-0-1-4 0% 0% 20.0%
3rd 2-1-1-3 28.6% 42.9% 57.1%
4th 2-0-0-3 40.0% 40.0% 40.0%
5th or lower 0-0-0-11 0% 0% 0%

Check the position in the previous race
Runners that occupy the back of the pack during the Champions Cup rarely advance to the top positions, so we should focus on runners that tend to maintain a favorable position throughout the race. While it is difficult to predict the position of runners in the race, we can use the position at the 4th corner in their previous race as a reference point. The table below shows a significant gap in success ratios between runners that had been positioned 6th or higher when passing the 4th corner in their previous race and those that had been positioned 7th or lower. This suggests we should target runners that were positioned 6th or higher when passing the 4th corner in their previous race. [Table 4]

[Table 4] Performance by position when passing 4th corner in previous race (last eight years)
Position when
passing 4th corner in
previous race
[1st-2nd-3rd-4th or lower]
Win ratio Top 2 ratio Top 3 ratio
6th or higher 7-6-8-54 9.3% 17.3% 28.0%
7th or lower 1-2-0-43 2.2% 6.5% 6.5%
Note: Excludes runners that had contested their previous race overseas.

Seek out the winner!
Runners that have won a G1 or top-level dirt race within the last year dominate

Seven of the last eight winners (excluding Sambista) had won a G1 or top-level dirt race within the last year. Sambista, the only runner to diverge from this trend, had won the JBC Ladies’ Classic (a top-level dirt race) roughly 13 months earlier. Over the last eight years, race favorites have only achieved two victories in the Champions Cup, making this a difficult G1 race to call. For this reason, we should focus on runners that have won a G1 or top-level dirt race within the last year, regardless of their favoritism. [Table 5]

[Table 5] Winners’ victories in G1 or top-level dirt races within the last year (last eight years)
Year Winner G1 or top-level dirt race
won within last year
2014 Hokko Tarumae Kawasaki Kinen, Tokyo Daishoten
2015 Sambista None
2016 Sound True Tokyo Daishoten
2017 Gold Dream February Stakes
2018 Le Vent Se Leve Mile Championship Nambu Hai, Japan Dirt Derby, etc.
2019 Chrysoberyl Japan Dirt Derby
2020 Chuwa Wizard Kawasaki Kinen
2021 T O Keynes Teio Sho


(Yodohito Himezono)

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