By Nicholas Godfrey
Japan: Top-class racemare Lucky Lilac (Mikio Matsunaga/Mirco Demuro) was delivered between horses close home to get the better of a hugely competitive field for the Osaka Hai behind closed doors at Hanshin on Sunday.
Sent off 3.1-1 second favourite in the 260 million yen (£1.95m) event, the five-year-old daughter of dual Arc runner-up Orfevre came off best in a finish of necks over Chrono Genesis and market leader Danon Kingly. Well-fancied Blast Onepiece could finish only seventh of the 12 runners.
After breaking sharply, Lucky Lilac was able to get a lovely position on the rail behind front-running Danon Kingly, her conqueror in the recent Nakayama Kinen.
Though Mirco Demuro had to bide his time in the straight, the mare quickened nicely when a gap opened up outside the leader and the Hong Kong Vase runner-up powered home for her third top-level success.
“I really miss the fans that were unable to come and watch the race, but it’s always a great feeling to be able to win a G1 race,” commented Demuro after landing his 31st JRA success at that exalted level.
“Lucky Lilac was well prepared for coming into this race after a prep at Nakayama where she found the uphill still a little tough at the finish – she was definitely very strong and fit this time,” the jockey added.
“She was really sharp coming out of the gate and we were a little more forwardly positioned than expected but the race went perfectly for us and she was really concentrating and taking the bit after the third turn, although we were lucky to find a nice opening at the stretch.
“She’s not a timid mare and has the strength to face the top males in the future.”
• Learn more about Japanese racing at the Japan Racing Association website