By Nicholas Godfrey
Tokyo: Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) G1 ¥251.4m (£1.63m) 1m4f, turf, 3yo fillies
Uberleben (Takahisa Tezuka/Mirco Demuro)
The unbeaten run of the great white wonder Sodashi came to an end with barely a whimper as Japan’s ‘idol horse’ faded into eighth behind Uberleben in the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks).
After a popular victory in the Oka Sho (1,000 Guineas), Sodashi was aiming to become the third unbeaten winner of Japan’s first two fillies’ Classics. She had won her five previous races, having become the first all-white horse to win a G1 event in Japan when she won the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies in December.
However, pedigree suggested the 2,400 metres might be a stretch for Sodashi, and she hardly helped herself by racing far too keenly and pulling throughout a race run at a moderate gallop.
Sitting just behind the pace, the 9-10 favourite was brought to challenge after they entered the Tokyo straight but she was never able to get her head in front before getting completely swamped inside the final furlong as 8-1 shot Uberleben finished powerfully down the middle of the track under Mirco Demuro to score by a length over Akaitoribo Musume.
Uberleben, who clearly benefited from the step up in distance, is a first G1 winner for her multiple G1-winning sire Gold Ship. Trained by Takahisa Tezuka, she had finished third behind Sodashi in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies and was recording only her second victory in six career starts, having not won since her debut in a newcomers’ race in Tokyo 11 months ago.
“She suffered from colic in February and it’s been but steady recovery,” explained winning rider Demuro.
“I’m thrilled – it’s always wonderful to win a G1 race,” added the Italian, who admitted he had been further back than he wanted in the early stages.
“She broke smoothly today and it did worry me a bit that we were dead last in the backstretch but she responded well when the pace accelerated from the third turn and showed her tenacity in steadily advancing in the straight. She was strong pulling away and holding off the others and the added distance wasn’t a problem for her at all.”
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