Horse racing preview - 2019 Japan Cup
 Japan Cup 2019

2019 Japan Cup

November 25, 2019 - 1 ½ miles (2,400 meters), Tokyo, Japan

Preview: October 16, 2019

Title holder Almond Eye will be the horse to beat in the 2019 Japan Cup, although she got defeated for the first time lately. Some indication, who will be her hardest rivals in the Japan Cup, should give a strong field in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) on October 27. Interesting horses are among the nominees from oversea.

Almond Eye won the 2018 Japan Cup, in record time, was then suggested being Enable's most dangerous rival in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. She never made it to Paris, instead triumphed in the Dubai Turf. Last year's Japanese Guineas and Oaks winner had then to accept her first defeat in the Yasuda Kinen in June, but actually had a very awkward race there. It is uncertain, if Almond Eye will try to defend her Japan Cup title, a start in Hong Kong is also under consideration, her next target will be the Tenno Sho (Autumn).

Saturnalia, like Almond Eye a descendant of Lord Kanaloa, raised expectations when won the Hopeful Stakes as a two-year-old and the 2.000 Guineas in April. He then disappointed as 16:10 favourite in the Derby, but easily won the Kobe Shimbun Hai on September 22. He is now set to compete against older horses for the first time in the Tenno Sho and then enter the Japan Cup. Most likely he will be ridden by the Belgian star jockey Christophe Soumillon.

Cheval Grand won the 2017 Japan Cup and came fourth in this race last year. This year the seven-year-old son of Heart's Cry was send around the world. Following a second place in the Dubai Sheema Classic, he travelled to England, where he had no chance in the King George and Juddmonte International Stakes.

Suave Richard, also a son of Heart's Cry-Sohn, took part in the Dubai Sheema Classic too, finished third there, half a length behind his half brother. He had however beaten Cheval Grand in last year's Japan Cup. Suave Richard only run a single race in Japan this season, ended third in the Takarazuka Kinen on June 23. He aims at the Tenno Sho (Autumn) and the 2019 Japan Cup as well.

Rey De Oro won the Tenno Sho (Autumn) last year and got only narrowly beaten in the 2018 Arima Kinen. The 2017 Derby winner experiences a disappointing season though. Neither in the Dubai Sheema Classic nor in the Takarazuka Kinen he made it under the first four, even finished only fourth as clear favourite in the Sankei Sho All Comers at the end of September. Nevertheless, Rey De Oro will try to defend his Tenno Sho (Autumn) title and then go to the Japan Cup, where he finished runner-up back in 2017.

Wagnerian triumphed in the Japanese Derby and the Kobe Shimbun Hai last year, but could not start that year again due to injury reasons. He run only twice this year as well, got third in the Osaka Hai in March and fourth in the Sapporo Kinen in August. The son of Deep Impact is another, who should run the Tenno Sho ahead of the Japan Cup.

Loves Only You won this year's Japanese Oaks in a new record time. Due to a hoof infection she could not run since. Would she get fit for the Japan Cup, she would obviously be among the favourites.

Chrono Genesis finished third in the 1000 Guineas and Oaks, just landed a two length victory in the Shuka Sho on October 13, the third leg of the fillies' triple crown. It was the first Group 1 success for trainer Takashi Saito, who would love to see his filly in the Japan Cup.

Last year's Japan Cup runner-up Kiseki, the winner of the 2018 Arima Kinen Blast Onepiece and the current Tenno Sho (Spring) winner Fierement are potential candidates for the 2019 Japan Cup too. All three took part in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on October 6, why it is not clear where they will start next.

Several horse are nominated from Europe and the United States. The Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien has six horses on the list, including the current Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, Magical or Sir Dragonet. They would certainly be among the favourites in the 2019 Japan Cup, but the experience shows, they will rather not make it to Japan. The German colt Alounak and the winner of the Grosse Preis von Baden Ghaiyyath are nominated too, they will definitely not take part in this year's Japan Cup.

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