By Nicholas Godfrey
Nakayama: Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2,000 Guineas) G1 ¥238m (£1.58m) 1m2f, turf, 3yo
Efforia (Yuichi Shikato/Takeshi Yokoyama)
It seems that barely a week can go by without a potential superstar in Japan but here we go again after Efforia destroyed his Classic rivals to extend his unbeaten record to four in the Satsuki Sho.
Made 2.7-1 second favourite behind Danon The Kid, who faded tamely in the closing stages, Efforia powered down the Nakayama straight to score by a dominant three lengths from Titleholder in a time of 2m0.6s – just a tenth faster than Contrail in 2020.
Last week, the ‘great white wonder’ Sodashi stayed unbeaten in winning the Oka Sho (Japanese 1,000 Guineas) at Hanshin, following the template outlined in 2020 by Contrail and filly counterpart Daring Tact, who were both still unbeaten as they completed their respective Triple Crown campaigns.
Like Daring Tact, Efforia is by the Japan Cup winner Epiphaneia. Having won both starts at two, he won the G3 Kyodo News Hai on his three-year-old debut in February.
Under a ground-saving ride from Takeshi Yokoyama in the Satsuki Sho, Efforia sat close to Danon The Kid (pulled for his head in early running), both sitting just behind the pace. Though for a stride or two turning for home it looked as if he might struggle for a run, he was able to slip around the fading leader and exited the turn with an advantage he was never going to forfeit.
“It’s such a great feeling,” said Yokoyama. “I was fortunate to have been able to ride this colt since his debut and I knew that coming here undefeated he would be heavily backed and the pressure would be on.
“But I believed that if I concentrated on using whatever skills I had as a rider to bring out the
best from my horse, we would have a great chance of winning.
“The pace wasn’t that fast, so we were able to cruise along in a good position – but we were a little tight going into the stretch and I couldn’t be sure until the end.”
The second leg of the Japanese Triple Crown is the Tokyo Yushun (Derby) on May 30 in Tokyo.
• More about Japanese racing at the JRA website