By Nicholas Godfrey
Chukyo (March 14): Kinko Sho G2 ¥128,700,000 (£848,000) 1m2f, turf, 4yo+
Gibeon (Hideaki Fujiwara/Atsuya Nishimura)
The Kinko Sho, a major prep race for all the G1 skirmishes coming up over the next couple of months, ended in a massive shock result as 226-1 shot Gibeon – a six-year-old winless since his three-year-old days – stunned odds-on favourite Daring Tact to claim the ¥128m prize.
Jockeys riding the beaten horses – Daring Tact’s partner Kohei Matsuyama high among them – will be asking themselves some serious questions after Gibeon was able to make all, hugging a golden rail (after the ground dried out) before scooting off the final bend.
Daring Tact raced in mid-division and was travelling easily, only to lose a few lengths off the turn as she was forced to fan out five horses wide.
Such manoeuvres are hardly rare in Japanese racing, and perhaps the 2-5 favourite’s response wasn’t as electric as her jockey would have hoped on her seasonal debut. But the fact remains that Matsuyama engaged panic mode to make up the lost ground with a rat-a-tat whip flourish and bouncing around the saddle.
She responded – but not fast enough, as a despairing late lunge failed to grab the leader and last year’s fillies’ Triple Crown winner suffered only the second defeat of her life by a neck.
Final times was 2m01.8s; also among those also caught out were a handful of fellow G1 winners, such as Glory Vase (fourth), Kiseki (fifth) and Persian Knight (eighth) – though it must be stressed that none of them, like Daring Tact, would have been treating this race as an end in itself.
Nevertheless, this was a massive shock, resulting in a win dividend equivalent to 226.3-1 – reportedly the sixth biggest JRA graded-race dividend since 1986.
Making his third appearance in the Kinko Sho (sixth and fourth previously), Gibeon was a longshot for good reason. He hadn’t won a race of any sort – indeed, he hadn’t made the first three – since December 2018, and that was a minor G3 handicap.
Interestingly, in retrospect at least, that victory came over Sunday’s course and distance and he did at least have the benefit of a previous outing in 2021 – where the son of Deep Impact came fifth at 39-1 in a non-graded event.
• More about Japanese racing at the JRA website