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Posted 2020-11-19 10:09:46  
Gran Algeria goes for Gr. 1 treble


The slew of top-level contests continues in Japan and the spotlight remains firmly on Hanshin Racecourse this Sunday, 22 November with the G1 Mile Championship.

Normally held at Kyoto, this race has been moved and will take place at Hanshin for the first time in the race’s 36-year history due to renovation of Kyoto Racecourse. The Hanshin outer 1600m course also features two G1 contests for fillies – the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies for two-year-olds and the Oka Sho for three-year-olds – as well as the two-year-old pinnacle for colts, the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes.


The change in venue represents a return to familiar ground for a number of Mile Championship hopefuls.

 

Among the 17 runners are eight G1 winners, including four that have aced one of the three Hanshin mile G1s – 2019 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes champ Salios, 2018 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes and the 2019 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile winner Admire Mars, as well as, Resistencia first home in the 2019 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, and 2019 Oka Sho winner Gran Alegria, who also pocketed the G1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo, as well as the Sprinters Stakes (1200m) at Nakayama this year. Add to that the winner of the 2020 NHK Mile Cup – Lauda Sion – and you have quite the formidable field.


The Deep Impact-sired Gran Alegria is expected to emerge the race favourite in Japan and comes in following back-to-back G1 wins, including her latest, a two-length G1 Sprinters Stakes (1200m) success in early October. Kazuo Fujisawa, who holds the record, at four, for having trained the most Mile Championship winners, says all is looking good with his prize filly.

 

Gran Alegria breezed with a partner on Wednesday (18 November) over the turf track at Miho, clocking a crisp 1m 4.9s over 1000m. “With the one race behind her, she was easy to get ready,” said Fujisawa. “She always gives it her all so I’ve trained her alone, but she has calmed down quite a bit and did well working in tandem.”


Gran Alegria beat Almond Eye to the finish line by two and a half lengths in the Yasuda Kinen and won the Sprinters Stakes by a tidy 2 lengths as well, and once again, Christophe Lemaire will be up. The Frenchman has ridden the winner in three of the autumn G1s and has partnered Gran Alegria in seven of her nine starts.


The Heart’s Cry-sired Salios, runner-up to Contrail in the first two legs of Japan’s Triple Crown this year, captured the G2 Mainichi Okan (1800m) by three lengths at Tokyo on 11 October and is considered Gran Alegria’s biggest threat.

 

Salios is three from three over the mile and, though four of six of his career outings have been over the counter-clockwise Tokyo course, he has done well turning to the right as well. And, it is worth noting that the race favourite has not won the Mile Championship since 2009.


Last year’s Mile Championship winner Indy Champ followed that success with a luckless seventh in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile and has finished fourth, first and third this year from three runs. His last race was the Yasuda Kinen, where he lost a shoe and finished third. A leg injury, reportedly light, prevented him from starting his fall campaign in the Sprinters Stakes and this will be his first race in five months. Nonetheless, he is looking sharp and is considered a serious candidate for the Mile Championship’s 130-million yen (approx. HK$9.7 million) winner’s share.


The Ritto-based Resistencia, the 2019 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies champ and this year’s Oka Sho runner-up, returns from her second in the NHK Mile Cup and an operation for a chip fracture. She has endured regular work and clocked 50.3s, 51.9s, 52.0s climbing the 800m hill course in each of her last three work outs. She’ll run with 119lb, the lightest weight of the field.


After winning at Sha Tin last year, the now four-year-old Admire Mars didn’t race again until the Yasuda Kinen in June, and finished sixth. His next start saw him snare third in the G2 Swan Stakes (1400m) at Kyoto on 31 October. The sharpener has done him good. Yasuo Tomomichi, who trains at Ritto, said: “It takes a while for him to get his engine revved, but once he does, he can keep that speed going for a long time. He’s competitive and holds his ground well and I think the hill just before the finish line at Hanshin is going to suit him.” 

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