Japanese superstar Kitasan Black stamped himself as the best stayer in the world with a dominant performance in Sunday’s Grade One Tenno Sho (Spring) at Kyoto.
The five-year-old sliced 0.9 of a second off the course record set by the legendary Deep Impact in 2006, cruising away to his fifth victory at the highest level.
Jockey Yutaka Take settled Kitasan Black second behind runaway leader Yamakatsu Raiden, before taking him to the front on the home turn and leaving his rivals in his wake.
It was a dominant display from the defending champion, beating home Cheval Grand and Satono Diamond.
It’s been an incredible 12 months for the Hisashi Shimizu-trained horse, winning the Tenno Sho (Spring) twice, the Japan Cup, Osaka Hai, placing in the Arima Kinen and Takarazuka Kinen (all at Grade One level), while also taking out the Grade Two Kyoto Daishoten.
The reigning Horse of the Year will now try to break Japan’s duck in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Saburo Kitajima, the owner of Kitasan Black commented "I have to start learning French." at the press conference after the race. #Arc— SundaySilence0325 (@ss0325JP) April 30, 2017
Kitasan Black’s victory kick-started a huge couple of hours for the Land of the Rising Sun, with Neorealism following up by taking out the Group One Audemars Piguet QE II Cup at Sha Tin thanks to a brilliant ride from Joao Moreira.
The Magic Man will take his talents down to Adelaide for the first time this weekend, kicking off a monster weekend of top-line racing action.
There are two Group Ones at Morphettville – the Robert Sangster Stakes and Australasian Oaks – kicking off the South Australian carnival.
Hong Kong star jockey Joao Moreira will be riding in Adelaide on Saturday week. Rides Sheidel in Group 1 Sangster. pic.twitter.com/ltfRouL47M— Sky Sports Radio (@SkySportsRadio1) April 24, 2017
In England, the field for Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas is set to be the smallest in 22 years (just 12 were still down to run on Monday), but still boasts quality at the top end headlined by Churchill, Barney Roy, Al Wukair and Eminent.
In the USA, the Kentucky Derby – the first leg of the Triple Crown – will be run on Saturday with Always Dreaming, Classic Empire and Irish War City at the top of a very open market.
On Sunday, the Grade One NHK Mile Cup is on at Tokyo, while the Group One Champions Mile and Chairman’s Sprint Prize will be contested at Sha Tin.
There is some quality there.
Finally, the big news out of Australia over the weekend is the impending split between Godolphin and head trainer John O’Shea, who is set to finish up after three years in charge.
Talk has already moved to who will fill the role next, with names like James Cummings, Darren Beadman, Lee Freedman and Charlie Appleby being bandied about.
Watch this space.