Japan: Danon Kingly looks a star in the making with behind-closed-doors success

Horse Racing Danon Kingly
Danon Kingly (Norohiro Yokohama) charges home to win the Nakayama Kinen.
Photo: Masakazu Takahashi

By Nicholas Godfrey

Japan: Barely a major international meeting seems to pass these days without a Japanese-trained winner and several of the nation’s higher-profile performers are being lined up for a full-scale assault on the Dubai World Cup card later this month.

However, their number will not include Danon Kingly and Lucky Lilac, who are set to clash again in the G1 Osaka Hai at Hanshin on April 5 after coming first and second in Sunday’s Nakayama Kinen.

The G2 event, worth 128 million yen (£935,000/$1.2m) over 1m1f, was held behind closed doors with no public admissions at Nakayama as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus.

Placed in a pair of Classics last term, Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) runner-up Danon Kingly now boasts a career record of five wins from eight starts and is widely expected to become one of the nation’s foremost performers in 2020.

Sent off 6-4 favourite, the son of the legendary Deep Impact held off fast-finishing Lucky Lilac – winner of last year’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes – to claim the Nakayama Kinen by a length and three-quarters.

Winning trainer Kiyoshi Hagiwara expects Danon Kingly to improve for the outing when he next appears in the Osaka Hai. “His condition was not yet 100 per cent,” he said, while jockey Norihino Yokohama said the winner idled a little after hitting the front at the top of the stretch.

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Several G1 winners finished behind Danon Kingly, notably third-placed Soul Stirring on the final outing of a career in which she gained fame as Frankel’s first Classic winner thanks to her Yushun Himba (Oaks) triumph three seasons ago.

Hong Kong Cup winner Win Bright was well beaten in eighth, putting in doubt a mooted Dubai Turf bid. With regular partner Masami Matsuoka injured in a fall, Filip Minarik took over on the six-year-old, who denied Magic Wand in Hong Kong.

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