Lemaire guides Admire to victory on landmark day
Report: Japan, Sunday
Tokyo: Victoria Mile (Grade 1) 1m | turf | 4yo+ f/m
French jockey Christophe Lemaire, who earlier on the card rode his 600th winner in Japan, marked the occasion with victory in the feature contest when weaving Admire Lead (Naosuke Sugai) through a tight gap to take the spoils.
With heavy rain earlier in the day, Lemaire needed to rely on all of his track nous and while other jockeys fanned out wide to avoid soft parts on the inside, he chanced the economical route and it paid off when the Naosuke Sugai-trained four-year-old picked up strongly to beat a field containing three Grade 1 winners.
Fifth in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1,000 Guineas) during a blank three-year-old campaign, Admire Lead rediscovered her juvenile form with back-to-back wins before a solid second on her previous starts in Hanshin Himba Stakes. She handled conditions with aplomb to register her first Grade 1 success.
"I had every confidence in her today because I knew the soft track wouldn't bother her at all," said Lemaire following his 11th top-flight success in the country.
"I was able to position her well and although she has a good turn of foot, her charge doesn't last long so I tried not to drive her in early stretch. She kicked off the season with two wins and then a second in a Grade 2 race – it's obvious she's progressed enormously."