Japan Cup 2021

2021 Japan Cup

November 28, 2021 - 1 ½ miles (2,400 meters), Tokyo, Japan

Preview: October 20, 2021

The 2021 Japan Cup could become an exciting race, as no real favourite has shown up at this point. More light into the darkness should bring the Tenno Sho (Autumn) on October 31.

Contrail entered last year's Japan Cup with high expectations, he had won the Japanese Triple Crown before, but was then beaten by the big Almond Eye. As Almond Eye meanwhile retired, it could be Contrail's time this year. His seasonal debut did not turn out as expected, though. As clear favourite, he came only third in the Osaka Hai on April 4, why an intended start in the Takarazuka Kinen was cancelled. The son of Deep Impact will run his first race after a six-month absence in the Tenno Sho (Autumn).

Daring Tact experienced a similar situation like Contrail last year. She also raised high expectations by winning the Japanese Filly Triple Tiara and then only gained a place in the Japan Cup, a neck behind Contrail. The daughter of Epiphaneia has not had a good start to the new season too, narrowly missed victory on her debut, then came third in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hong Kong in April, where she was diagnosed with a foreleg injury.

Sodashi will not only be in the centre of attention due to her appearance. The three-year-old came to fame last year in December, when she triumphed in the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies and became the first complete white horse to win a Group One race. In April, she then won the Japanese 1000 Guineas (1,600 m) at Hanshi with a new track record, but surprisingly finished only eighth in the Japanese Oaks (2,400 m). However, she demonstrated her class in August again, when won the Sapporo Kinen (2,000 m) against several strong older horses, including the former Arima Kinen winner Blast Onepiece or Loves Only You, who had won the mentioned Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Hong Kong. Her most recent start was disappointing again. As clear favourite, she came only tenth in the Shuka Sho on October 17, the third part of the Japanese Filly Triple Tiara.

Uberleben won the Japanese Oaks in May as an 8:1 outsider, unfortunately was diagnosed with a tendon injury afterwards. She returned to the racetrack in the Shuka Sho, where she finished only on the 13th place.

Akaitorino Musume was runner-up behind Uberleben in the Japanese Oaks (2,400 m) and just won the Shuka Sho (2,000 m), why the daughter of is another hot candidate. Her trainer Sakae Kunieda won the Japan Cup twice with Almond Eye.

Efforia stayed unbeaten in the first three races of his young career, including the Japanese 2000 Guineas. He entered the Japanese Derby as clear favourite then, but got caught on the line by a nose. Despite this defeat the son of Epiphaneia will be amongst the 2021 Japan Cup favourites, if he will start there. He will not run in the Kikuka Sho, the third part of the Triple Crown, instead competes against older horses for the first time in the Tenno Sho (Autumn).

Shahryar defeated Efforia in the Derby with his impressive finishing speed, could not confirm this performance in the next race though. He got clearly beaten by other three-year-old colts in the Kobe Shimbun Hai (Gr.2, 2,200 m) on September 26, probably had problems with the soft ground.

Chrono Genesis run in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris, where she finished on a decent seventh place, considering that she came from a three-month break. She had already shown her international class when narrowly missed triumph in the Dubai Sheema Classic earlier this year and won four Group One races in Japan, including the 2020 Arima Kinen.

Curren Bouquetd'or ended fourth last year and came even runner-up in the 2019 Japan Cup. This place seems to be her destiny, she already came second in the Oaks and the Shuka Sho. The five-year-old daughter of Deep Impact has not won a race since April 2019, finished runner-up in six of her last eleven starts, but demonstrated several times that she is one of the best Japanese race horses. She will also take part in the Tenno Sho (Autumn).

World Premier finished sixth in last year's Japan Cup, had come from almost a year without a race though. As a three-year-old he had won the Japanese St Leger (Kikuka Sho, 3.000 m) and gained a third place in the 2019 Arima Kinen, before an injury had forced him to that long absence. In May 2021 the son of Deep Impact won the Tenno Sho (Spring) ahead of Arc participant Deep Bond and Curren Bouquetd'or. He is also set to end his summer break in the Tenno Sho (Autumn).

Glory Vase came runner-up in the mentioned Queen Elizabeth II Cup, half a length ahead of Daring Tact, he had already von the 2019 Hong Kong Vase. In last year's Japan Cup he was not far beaten on the fifth place and could make an impact again. After the 2021 Japan Cup he will probably take part in the Hong Kong International Races in December.

Japan is one of five horses entered by Aidan O'Brien. The Irish trainer has big names on the list, like the last two Epsom Oaks winners Love and Snowfall, but it is actually rather improbable that one of them will finally turn up at the 2021 Japan Cup. Other horses nominated from abroad are the former Chester Vase winner Sir Dragonet, who meanwhile moved to Australia, or the French mare Grand Glory, just winner of the Prix Jean Romanet. Gufo, who recently beat Japan in the Sword Dancer Stakes in August, and the filly War Like Goddess are two horses nominated from the United States.

The Japan Cup takes place on Sunday morning 7:40 am (CET). A replay of the race, where the result is NOT displayed in advance, is provided by Horse Racing Japan. Press the video button in the Japan Cup row.

deutsche version

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