Superb Guineas hero Contrail puts unbeaten record on the line in Japanese Derby
Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby)| Grade 1 | 1m4f | turf | 3yo
Rising three-year-old star Contrail will bid to move one step closer to Triple Crown glory when putting his unbeaten record on the line as hot favourite in Sunday's Tokyo Yushun (7.40am BST).
The brilliant Japanese 2,000 Guineas hero will renew his rivalry with talented Satsuki Sho runner-up Salios, with both colts stepping up to 1m4f for the first time.
The Contrail camp do not envisage any stamina issues for their high-flying Deep Impact colt, who is already a general 16-1 chance to become the first Japanese winner of the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October.
“Judging from his last race, the 2,400 metres [1m4f] should be fine," said Shigeki Miyauchi, assistant trainer to Yoshito Yahagi.
"He has run at Tokyo, and with him leaning slightly to the right, racing left-handed should be better."
Jockey Yuichi Fukunaga added of the general 1-2 ante-post favourite: "I think the way he won last time showed how good he’s become, getting gradually better since last year.
"I know him well and he doesn’t give me anything to worry about, whether it’s before or during the race. I hope he can be this year’s Derby champion."
Australian rider Damian Lane is tasked with reversing the form of Salios' Guineas defeat six weeks ago and says the former Grade 1-winning juvenile is in excellent shape ahead of the prestigious prize, which is worth roughly £3.25 million.
“His final piece of work was very good and he was full of running, particularly at the finish," said Lane, who finished fourth in the race 12 months ago.
Trainer Noriyuki Hori added: "His weight is about the same as it was for his last race. He’s maintained his appetite and there’s a sharpness about him, and with the weather being much as usual at this time of year, his condition is how I would anticipate it to be."
Yuga Kawada, the 34-year-old who captained the Rest of the World team to Shergar Cup victory at Ascot last year, takes over from Lyle Hewitson on surprise 2,000 Guineas third Galore Creek ahead of his Derby assignment.
The market apparently does not expect the Grade 2-winning colt to uphold the Nakayama form with fifth-placed Satono Flag, who also has a change of rider with Yutaka Take taking over from Christophe Lemaire.
Galore Creek's trainer Hiroyuki Uehara said: "He had a short break at the farm after his last race and has come back refreshed. He’s a big horse with a stride to match, so everything about the Tokyo course goes in his favour. On his dam’s side, the distance looks fine."
Take added: "He’s already showed what he’s capable of at Tokyo, and I don’t see any problem with the distance. When I rode him before, the ground was soft, so I think he’ll be better on a firm track.
"The Derby’s a special race, and with him being a son of Deep Impact [winner of the race under Take in 2005], that goes well with me. I’ve won a Derby in each of the past three decades, so going into this next one, I hope I can win again.”
Godolphin will be represented by British-bred Japanese 2,000 Guineas sixth Darlington Hall, while Wakea, the mount of Christophe Lemaire, is a live challenger having bypassed the opening Classic last month.
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