Let’s Go Donki’s connections are desperate to give their mare another chance in Hong Kong but she needs a big run in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen to earn a place in next month’s Group One Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin.
A slow start ruined Let’s Go Donki’s chances in the Group One Hong Kong Sprint but a closer look reveals her unplaced effort was much better than it looked on paper.
Let’s Go Donki may have been outpaced early but her final 800m and 400m splits were the fastest of any horse in the race as she flashed home for sixth, three-and-a-quarter lengths behind Mr Stunning.
Trainer Tomoyuki Umeda believes his six-year-old can do better if granted an invite for the Hong Kong feature on April 29.
“The owner really wants to go back with her again,” he said. “We nominated for the race but now we have to hope for an invite.”
Let’s Go Donki was a stand-out two- and three-year-old, winning the 2015 Oka Sho (Japanese 1,000 Guineas) and was even unsuccessfully stretched to 2,400m of the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks).
It wasn’t until late in Let’s Go Donki’s four-year-old season that she found her groove as a sprinter-miler and she has since rattled off a series of honest returns at top level.
Those efforts include seconds Japan’s only two Group One sprints; last year’s Takamatsunomiya Kinen and the Sprinters Stakes.
Umeda urged punters to forgive a last start effort over a mile on dirt and said that the run had acted as an ideal preparation for today’s feature.
“She wasn’t completely fit after her trip to Hong Kong for her run in the February Stakes so we are not really worried about that performance,” he said. “She has bounced back and is a great place physically.”
Sprinters Stakes winner Red Falx is expected to jump favourite but perhaps the biggest threat is another horse nominated for the Chairmans’s Sprint Prize, Godolphin’s Fine Needle.
The five-year-old returned from a break with a Group Three Silk Road Stakes victory that connections feel has brought the entire on.
“For the Silk Road Stakes, since this race was our main goal, we’d left room for improvement,” assistant trainer Yoshinori Unoki said. “He has a real sprinter’s body now. He has matured both mentally and physically and I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of race he’ll give us.”
An interesting side note is that Fine Needle will wear a version of Godolphin’s iconic blue silks after official ownership of the global giant’s Japanese horses were officially “transferred” from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.