Tokyo: Gentildonna edged past Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up Orfevre by a nose to become the first three-year-old filly to win the 2,400-metre (1.5-mile) Japan Cup on Sunday.
Japanese jockey Yasunari Iwata guided Gentildonna, triple filly champion this season, to take the lead in the last furlong to cross the finishing line in two minutes 23.1 seconds ahead of Orfevre, ridden by Kenichi Ikezoe.
“I was able to keep the best position throughout,” said Iwata. “It was a race that I couldn’t win unless I plucked up my courage to face it. We were able to run perfectly until the fourth corner.
“It would have been a perfect race if I didn’t touch Orfevre in the final straight. I saw Gentildonna’s real potential for the first time today. She gave me the best result on the best stage.”
The race was led by Japan’s Beat Black, starting from the innermost position, from the beginning but the five-year-old was overtaken by Gentildonna and Orfevre on the final straight and eventually finished at seventh, with Japanese horses taking the top seven places.
British horse Red Cadeaux was eighth, while another British competitor Jakkalberry and Irish-born Mount Athos came in 11th and 12th respectively.
Irish-bred, French-trained Solemia failed to bury the jinx that the winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe cannot win the Japan Cup as the four-year-old filly finished 13th. Solemia was the eighth French champion to race in Tokyo.
Sri Putra from Britain was last in the 18-horse thoroughbred race.