Heart's Cry's Cheval Grand Claims Japan Cup

Mark Smith - Monday November 27

Cheval Grand played second fiddle to Kitasan Black for the past 12 months but with the addition of the all-conquering Hugh Bowman in the saddle he turned the tables on his old foe and the rising star Rey de Oro in the 37th running of the Group 1 Japan Cup (2400m) at Tokyo Racecourse on Sunday.

Third to Kitasan Black in the Cup 12 months ago, Cheval Grand made full use of his inside barrier enjoyed a cosy run throughout.

As he did last year, Yutaka Take took up the running on Kitasan Black and for a good while he looked all over the winner again.(images courtesy of JRA )

Bowman came with a well-timed run on Cheval Grand who headed a stubborn Kitasan Black inside the final 100 metres then held the challenge of Japanese Derby winner Rey de Oro with Christophe Lemaire in the saddle.

It was the first Group 1 for Cheval Grand who had been winless since the Group II Copa Republica Argentina on the same track over 12 months ago.

Trained by Yasuo Tomomichi, the son of Hearts Cry (JPN) advances his record to 7 wins, 5 seconds and 5 thirds from 22 starts with earnings of $8,637,000.

It was first Japan Cup for Heart's Cry (Sunday Silence x Irish Dance by Tony Bin), the sire of Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti, who was himself second to Alkaased (USA) in the 2005 Japan Cup.

For Bowman, it capped an unbelievable year in which he was named Longines World's best jockey for 2017.

"I feel proud and very humbled to have had the opportunity to have a ride on Cheval Grand, Bowman said.

"The good draw really played into the horse's favour and allowed me to sit near the pace in third or fourth position without spending petrol and within two or three lengths of Kitasan Black.

"At the 200-metre mark it was very clear to me that we were certainly going to beat Kitasan Black but whether something was going to come from behind and beat me I didn't know at that stage. "But we had a lot of confidence in this horse's stamina, and his best performances have been over fast-run 2,400 metres or even two miles, so I knew that my horse was not going to stop, and the stable was confident, and they gave me confidence with the horse."

Winning trainer Yasuo Tomomichi said the son of Heart's Cry deserved a win at the highest level.

"I am so happy to have finally won this prestigious G1 title with Cheval Grand who has always been so competitive in his past Group 1 starts but was unable to win, Tomomichi said.

"He was not exactly in his best form last year but still competitive. This year he came into his fall campaign in great condition and we had planned from the start with his owner that our target would be the Japan Cup and then the Arima Kinen."

The third Group 1 winner for his dam Halwa Sweet (Machiavellian), Cheval Grand has a superb pedigree and is a valuable stallion prospect.

He is a half-brother to the Group 1 Tokyo Victoria Mile winner Verxina (Deep Impact) who has the dubious distinction of finishing second to the champion Gentildonna, all three legs of Japan's Triple Crown for fillies, the Oka Sho (Japanese One Thousand Guineas) at Hanshin, the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) at Tokyo, and the Shuka Sho at Kyoto.

Another half-sister Vivlos (Deep Impact), won the Group 1 Shuka Sho before adding the Group 1 Dubai Turf at Meydan.

A winner of five races herself, Halwa Sweet is adding another very productive branch descending from her great grandam Glorious Song who is by Halo. In Japan it seems there is no such thing as too much Halo who appears in Cheval Grand's pedigree S3 x M4 x M5

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