By Nicholas Godfrey
Hanshin (June 27): Takarazuka Kinen G1 ¥325m (£2.11m) 2,200 metres (1m3f), turf, 3yo+
Chrono Genesis (Takashi Saito/Christophe Lemaire)
Japan: Christophe Lemaire gave his seal of approval to Chrono Genesis’s Arc bid after the Dubai Sheema Classic runner-up surged clear inside the final furlong to become only the second horse ever to win back-to-back runnings of the prestigious Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin.
The fan favourite, who is earning renown as Japan’s ‘grand prix queen’, is a five-year-old daughter of Arc winner Bago – and Europe’s richest race has long been her primary target for 2021.
“She runs really well on the soft so I think she will perform well in France,” said Lemaire, who was taking over from the injured Yuichi Kitamura. She is a 16-1 chance for the Arc with Coral.
The Takarazuka Kinen is one of two ‘All-Star’ races on the Japanese calendar alongside the Arima Kinen (Grand Prix) in late December; as a result, the field is partly composed of horses voted for by public ballot.
Chrono Genesis topped the public poll with 137,448 votes from a whopping total in excess of 1.6m. Returning to domestic action for the first time since her neck defeat to Mishriff at Meydan, she was sent off 4-5 favourite ahead of fellow Arc entry Lei Papale, hitherto unbeaten in six starts and coming in on the back of a G1 victory over Triple Crown hero Contrail and Gran Alegria in the Osaka Hai.
Chrono Genesis travelled comfortably just behind the front rank as outsider Unicorn Star made the running from Lei Papale. That pair joined issue as they turned into the Hanshin straight but neither had any answer as Chrono Genesis delivered her challenge 300 metres out for an emphatic victory.
“The mare was in very good condition and looked great at the paddock,” commented reigning JRA champion jockey Lemaire. “We were able to race in good position behind Lei Papale. She stretched really well and was able to run the last 200 metres easily.”
A Classic winner in 2019 in the Shuka Sho (Japanese fillies’ St Leger), Chrono Genesis has now won fur G1s altogether, having also registered an emphatic six-length victory in testing conditions 12 months ago before following up with the third G1 triumph of her career in the Arima Kinen before she went to Dubai. Gold Ship (2013 and 2014) is the only other horse to win the Takarazuka Kinen more than once.
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