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Gold Ship - Winning Satsuki Sho, Nakayama April 2012

Gold Ship: three-year-old now has the figure to back up his promise

  PICTURE: Masakazu Takahashi  

Shimbun Hai winner Gold Ship making waves

WORLD CLASS: an analysis of the international scene according to Racing Post Ratings

GOLD SHIP could be the next big thing to come out of Japan after the leading three-year-old confirmed his status with an effortless victory in the Kobe Shimbun Hai on Sunday, posting an RPR of 124+.

The son of Stay Gold has always looked the most promising horse of his generation, having cosily landed the Satsuki Sho (2,000 Guineas) in April and then stayed on strongly against the pace bias in a muddling Tokyo Yushun (Derby), finishing fifth.

But now he has the figure to back up that promise and, given that he still hasn't really been tested, he could have the quality to follow last year's leading three-year-old Orfevre in strutting his stuff on the world stage.

Japanese champion three-year-olds have a good record in their senior careers. Victoire Pisa (subsequently won Dubai World Cup) was the leading sophomore in 2010, in 2006 it was Admire Moon (Dubai Duty Free) and in 2005 the mighty Deep Impact (world champion) was champion at three.

Gold Ship is a shoo-in to be crowned sophomore champ this year. He won the first Classic of the year and was unlucky not to land the second.

Victory in the Kikuka Sho (St Leger) next month would see him join Camelot and I'll Have Another as the third might-have-been triple-crowner of 2012. The Kikuka Sho (October 21) is up next and then tradition suggests the classy grey may go to the Arima Kinen.

Triple crowner Orfevre took on and beat his elders in the Christmas showpiece last year and in 2005 Deep Impact finished a half-length second to four-year-old Heart's Cry in the prestigious Nakayama contest.

Wherever Gold Ship goes next he is one to keep very a close eye on. There isn't a three-year-old to match him in his homeland - and that suggests he could be very good.

Over in America, the million-dollar races at Parx on Saturday only served to confirm what we already knew about the US three-year-olds: the colts division has finished already, while the fillies are just getting started.

With Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta and Havre De Grace landing the last three Eclipse Horse of the Year awards, it's a position US racing fans are used to. The fillies provide the entertainment, the boys are disappointing.

This time round there were some smart colts. I'll Have Another was fancied as a triple-crowner, Bodemeister made him run and Union Rags had rare stamina, but final starts for that trio came in May, May and June. Then they retired, leaving the division wide open.

By contrast, the three-year-old fillies didn't look particularly strong back in the spring, but they have been on a slow burn which looks set to hit a peak for the Breeders' Cup.

Saturday's Cotillion Stakes saw the first clash of the big two in the fillies division, with last year's champion juvenile filly My Miss Aurelia taking on smoking-hot favourite Questing, who was looking for a Grade 1 hat-trick.

My Miss Aurelia (111+) came out on top in a tight finish, but having carried 7lb more than the winner, Questing came out much the best at the weights with an RPR of 117+.

The pace was very steady and they took over 74 seconds to cover the first 6f. That's slow. Questing dictated the pace and off those fractions looked to be in the perfect place up front, but she failed to pick up as well as the winner.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin blamed the dry track for her failure to sparkle. He's right that she didn't look as good as she did at Saratoga, but to finish that close to My Miss Aurelia off those weights was still a very good result.

The winner took her unbeaten record to six, although that will be under serious pressure in the Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic, where she will have to meet the runner-up on level terms.

That will also be the first time that either of the 1-2 from the Cotillion will meet their elders, headed by last year's Ladies Classic heroine Royal Delta.

The Pennsylvania Derby was the boys' race on Saturday and, as a perfect example of the muddled nature of this depleted division, outsider Handsome Mike won with an RPR of 111.

Macho Macho (115) stay on for second and he could be near the top of the remaining pecking order, but there isn't much in it, with the big three retired, Paynter out with colitis and Dullahan sticking to turf and synthetics.

TOP OF THE CLASS Gold Ship 124+ Naosuke Sugai (Jap) (Kobe Shimbun Hai, Hanshin, 1m4f, September 23)


Name (country trained) Race Rating
1  Frankel (GB)
Queen Anne/International 142T
 Black Caviar (Aus)
Lightning Stakes 130T
   Cirrus Des Aigles (Fr)
Prix Ganay 130T
 Hay List (Aus)
Newmarket Handicap 129T


 Orfevre (Jap)
Takarazuka Kinen
 Camelot (Ire)
Derby 128T
   Wise Dan (US)
Ben Ali/Stephen Foster  128A/D
8  Excelebration (Ire)
Lockinge Stakes 127T

 I'll Have Another (US)
Preakness Stakes 127D
   So You Think (Ire)
Tattersalls Gold Cup 127T
   St Nicholas Abbey (Ire)
Coronation Cup 127T
   Nathaniel (GB)
Eclipse/King George 127T
   Moonlight Cloud (Fr)
Prix Maurice de Gheest 127T
   Dullahan (US)
Pacific Classic 127A


Name (country trained) Race Rating
1  Frankel (GB)
Queen Anne/International 142
 Black Caviar (Aus)
Lightning Stakes 130

 Cirrus Des Aigles (Fr)
Prix Ganay 130
 Hay List (Aus)
Newmarket Handicap 129

 Orfevre (Jap)
Takarazuka Kinen
 Camelot (Ire)
Derby 128
 7  Excelebration (Ire)
Lockinge Stakes 127
   So You Think (Ire)
Tattersalls Gold Cup 127
   St Nicholas Abbey (Ire)
Coronation Cup 127
   Moonlight Cloud (Fr)
Prix Maurice de Gheest 127
   Nathaniel (GB)
Eclipse/King George 127
   Wise Dan (US)
Fourstardave Handicap 127


Name (country trained) Race Rating
1  Wise Dan (US)
Stephen Foster Hcap 128
2  I'll Have Another (US)
Preakness Stakes 127
3  Bodemeister (US)
Arkansas/Preakness 126
   Caleb's Posse (US)
Met Mile 126
5  Amazombie (US)
Churchill Downs 125
   Fort Larned (US)
Whitney Handicap 125
7  Ron The Greek (US)
Stephen Foster Hcap 124
   Shackleford (US)
Met Mile 124
   Successful Dan (US)
Alysheba Stakes
 Game On Dude (US)
San Antonio


Name (country trained) Race Rating
1  Wise Dan (US)
Ben Ali 
2  Dullahan (US) Pacific Classic 127
 Monterosso (UAE)
Dubai World Cup 126
4  Amazombie (US)
Bing Crosby Handicap 125
   Game On Dude (US)
Hollywood Gold Cup 125
6  Camp Victory (US)
Triple Bend Hcap 124
7  Krypton Factor (BHR)
Golden Shaheen
8  Musir (SAF)
Maktoum Challenge R1
   Colour Vision (GB)
Sagaro Stakes 122
   The Factor (US)
Triple Bend Hcap 122
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