Mikki Isle survives stewards' inquiry to land Grade 1 in Japan
Report: Japan, Sunday
Kyoto: Mile Championship (Grade 1) 1m, turf, 3yo+
Mikki Isle (Hidetaka Otonashi/Suguru Hamanaka) drifted to his left and caused any amount of interference close home but survived the stewards' inquiry to land a second career Grade 1 in the Mile Championship.
It was a first Grade 1 win of the year for Hamanaka as he got the better of two of the world's best. Christophe Lemaire was second on Isla Bonita (Hironori Kurita), while Ryan Moore partnered the third home Neorealism (Noriyuki Hori). Favourite Satono Aladdin finished fifth.
Mikki Isle won the Grade 1 Mile Cup at Tokyo in 2014, but had since won twice in 12 starts, with those wins coming in Grade 2 and Grade 3 company. He had finished second on his last two starts in Grade 1 company, going down by just a head last time to Red Falx in the Sprinters Stakes but this time it was the five-year-old who came out on top in a narrow finish.
Just a head separated Mikki Isle and Isla Bonita at the line, with a further three-quarters of a length back to Neorealism. Yet despite the narrow margin the stewards left the result unchanged in a decision that certainly would not have stood in Lemaire's homeland.
Hamanaka said: "I apologise for interfering with other horses in the stretch. Mikki Isle ran really well and I was able to race him in the front as planned. The horse was in good form and performed his best in the race."
The race often serves as a stepping stone to next month's Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin.
Also on Sunday
Report: Hong Kong, Sunday
Sha Tin: Longines Jockey Club Cup (Group 2) 1m2f, turf, 3yo+
Secret Weapon (C Yip/Nash Rawiller) burst clear of his rivals with 200 metres to run to surge to a comfortable victory in this Hong Kong Cup trial.
Upon straightening, he had plenty left to do and did not pick up immediately, but Rawiller got him rolling and the six-year-old responded. He separated himself from his pursuers in a matter of strides to run out a length-and-a-half winner.
Flame Hero and Military Attack took second and third.
Sha Tin: Bochk Wealth Management Jockey Club Mile (Group 2) 1m, turf, 3yo+
Five-year-old Beauty Only (Tony Cruz/Zac Purton) got the best of a thrilling finish to this Group 2, which is often a trial for next month's Hong Kong Mile.
With 100 metres to run there were five spread across the track, but Purton came widest of those in contention and asserted to win by a short-head from Romantic Touch, with favourite Sun Jewellery a neck further back in third.
A short-head was all that denied Cruz's third string a shock 96-1 success under Matthew Chadwick, but instead it was the former Stefano Botti inmate and Italian Group 3 winner who finally landed his first Group race in Hong Kong since the switch in 2015.
Sha Tin: Bochk Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint (Group 2) 6f, turf, 3yo+
Not Listenin' Tome (John Moore/Hugh Bowman) emerged as a surprise contender for the Hong Kong Sprint with a 42-1 shock in Sha Tin's final trial for next month's International Races.
His better known stablemate Able Friend, who finished sixth in Solow's Queen Anne, could only manage fourth.