Connections are plotting a return trip to Sha Tin with back-to-back Sprinters Stakes winner Red Falx as they chase the 2017 award for Japan’s best sprinter-miler but are yet to decide which International Day event they contest.
Tomohito Ozeki’s grey flash justified favouritism as Mirco Demuro produced Red Falx for an impressive stretch run with Hong Kong raider Blizzard one of those left in his wake in fifth.
Last year, Red Falx beat one runner home in the Hong Kong Sprint after being bumped around in the run and missed out on the JRA Award for best sprinter-miler to Mikki Isle.
A win on December 10 at Sha Tin could clinch this year’s award though, with Red Falx having won two from four so far this year, including a Group Two victory and two placings at top level.
“We didn’t get the award last year, and I would very much like him to win the title this year,” Ozeki said.
“To make that happen we might have to go outside to Hong Kong, but first we had to get this one. I’m very relieved to be able to respond to being race favourite, we weren’t able to do it in the Takamatsunomiya and I’m glad we could do it this time.”
A third in the Yasuda Kinen earlier this year was enough to suggest Red Falx could be as competitive in the Hong Kong Mile, a race where he would be less likely to endure the type of buffeting he was put through last year.
Demuro said he would lean towards the 1,200m race, but added that the main factor was the horse’s health, hinting there were other issues stopping the stallion prospect producing his peak form last December.
“He is at his best between 1,200m and 1,400m, so it would probably be the sprint,” Demuro said.
“He can run 1,600m but he needs everything right at a mile – a strong speed and a nice sit in the run. He is the type of horse that it is all about what type of shape he was in, and I don’t think he was at his best last time. The grass was also longer than usual at Sha Tin that day and I don’t think that suited him.”
Runner-up Let’s Go Donki is also a likely entrant in the Hong Kong Sprint, the five-year-old mare sharing the same ownership as 2014 third placegetter Straight Girl.
Let’s Go Donki was beaten a neck, with Once In A Moon third after leading and Snow Dragon third.
Blizzard was out-sprinted more than he was outclassed as he battled his way to a brave fifth, trainer Ricky Yiu Poon-fai and jockey Gerald Mosse both content with the effort.
The lone foreign-trained runner in the race, Blizzard had been brought to Japan in search of a softer option, having found the top-ranked sprinters too tough at Sha Tin.
Barring a bump at the start, Blizzard ran his usual honest race and finished in around the same spot he would at home, with the winner simply too sharp in the run home.
Gerald Mosse and the lament of the 1,400m specialist ...Blizzard in the right spot but out-sprinted by the winner, Red Falx too sharp 1,200m pic.twitter.com/41gJhn7Xtl— Michael Cox (@KemblaCoxy) October 1, 2017
“He gave me his best,” Mosse said. “It was difficult to quicken on the turn. The winner was next to me, and he came back because I took his run, and when he came outside he was just quicker in the straight.”