By Nicholas Godfrey
Hanshin (Sunday): Mile Championship G1 : ¥ 281.8m (£1.84m) 1m, turf, 3yo+
Gran Alegria (Kazuo Fujisawa/Christophe Lemaire)
Brilliant racemare Gran Alegria goes into retirement on the back of her sixth G1 triumph after charging home from a top-class field to complete back-to-back victories in the Mile Championship.
Reigning JRA champion jockey Christophe Lemaire partnered the 1,500th of his glittering Japanese career on the five-year-old daughter of Deep Impact, who swept down the outside widest of all in the Hanshin straight.
Although she was sent off odds-on favourite, Gran Alegria’s task looked potentially hazardous as she raced near the back of the 16-runner field behind a moderate enough pace set by Ho O Amazon.
But we should have known better. Angled out into the straight, Gran Alegria produced an explosive turn of foot – 32.7s for the last 600 metres – to overwhelm her rivals with a typically powerful closing burst.
“Here comes the girl!” exclaimed the JRA’s English-language race caller Murray Johnson as she stormed home to score by three-quarters of a length and a half-length from the three-year-olds Schnell Meister and Danon The Kid.
A permanent fixture in the world’s Top 20 according to Thoroughbred Racing Commentary’s Global Rankings, Gran Alegria is the sixth filly or mare to top the ¥1bn mark in career prize-money.
A Classic winner at three in the Oka Sho (1,000 Guineas), she won Yasuda Kinen, Sprinters Stakes and Mile Championship at four before adding the Victoria Mile and this second Mile Championship in 2021. In addition, she has shown up well in the best company at 1m2f – a distance plainly in excess of her optimum.
Shall we talk about it?
Christophe Lemaire (Gran Alegria’s jockey): I am relieved and happy – the most important mission for me in her last run of her career was to bring out the best performance, her true form, and she did just that.
“We were positioned a little further back but it didn’t worry me much and she has this really good finishing speed at the stretch like she showed today. She’s been a special horse since being a two-year-old, winning all those big races and today she showed us again that she’s of a different class. I will miss her.”
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