Nihonpiro Ours: first victory at Grade 1 level in the Japan Cup DirtPICTURE: Masakazu Takahashi
Shock win for Nihonpiro Ours in Japan Cup Dirt
Report: Japan, Sunday
Hanshin: Japan Cup Dirt (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+
NIHONPIRO OURS (Yuki Ohashi/Manabu Sakai) recorded a first victory at Grade 1 level when capturing the prestigious Japan Cup Dirt at Hanshin.
The pre-race hype surrounded 2011 Dubai World Cup runner-up Transcend, who was bidding to become the first horse to complete a hat-trick in the 271.4 million yen (£2.05m, €2.53m) contest.
Transcend's effort was short lived, however, as he faded from a prominent early position to finish last of the 16 runners.
In contrast, 189-10 shot Nihonpiro Ours delivered a sustained burst from his good early position to record an emphatic three and a half length success from Wonder Acute.
The shock victory gave jockey Manabu Sakai a first success at the highest level and he paid tribute to the winner, saying: "From the first time I sat on the horse, I knew that he had the ability to perform well in big races. All the staff have put great effort in preparing the horse for this big day, and I just had to bring out the best in him.
"I was able to settle the horse in a good position towards the front while keeping an eye on the two strong horses racing in front. My mount responded willingly in the last furlong and showed a strong performance. I'm just grateful to the connections in trusting me with the horse and to all the fans that supported us."
Hokko Tarumae filled third spot, with favourite Roman Legend back in fourth under Mirco Denuro. Ryan Moore's mount Ijigen finished a disappointing second last.
Winning trainer Yuki Ohashi added: "The race development was just perfect. The jockey waited to make his bid, which was later than usual, and that was when I was sure that our horse was going to win the race. We took ample time to improve his form, and our efforts have at last been rewarded."