Click above to watch Orfevre winning the Arima Kinen G1
(Photo : JRA - Footage : Horse Course International)
ARIMA KINEN (Grade 1)
Nakayama, Turf, 2500m
25 December 2011
If there was any doubt as to Japan’s Horse of the Year coming into Sunday’s G1 Arima Kinen at Nakayama, this season’s Triple Crown hero Orfevre (Jpn) (Stay Gold) settled the matter with a decisive victory in the country’s crown jewel.
The even-money choice facing a field that included reigning Horse of the Year Buena Vista (Jpn)(Special Week) and last year’s winner Victoire Pisa (Jpn) (Neo Universe), Orfevre hadn’t raced since his historic score in the G1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) at Kyoto October 23.
Away from post nine under jockey Kenichi Ikezoe, the chestnut settled under cover toward the back of pack, some 10 lengths off Earnestly (Jpn) (Grass Wonder)’s early pace. They continued through an easy gallop as Victoire Pisa and Buena Vista tracked in second and third, respectively, before the pace quickened on the final turn. Orfevre, produced on the outside in upper stretch, still had five lengths to make up, but lowered his head determinedly and ate up ground with each stride, finally hitting the front in the final 200 meters and outfighting a dead-game Eishin Flash (Jpn) (King’s Best) and the running-on To The Glory (Jpn) (King Kamehameha) to the wire. The win margin was 3/4 lengths, with another neck back to third. Earnestly, in the mix until mid-stretch, faltered to be 10th, while Buena Vista came home a one-paced seventh, one spot ahead of Victoire Pisa.
It was another landmark victory for trainer Yasutoshi Ikee, who saddled Orfevre’s full-brother Dream Journey (Jpn) to victory in the Arima Kinen in 2009. Dream Journey, the champion 2-year-old colt in Japan, was named that year’s champion older male, too.
Ikee, who decided to skip the G1 Japan Cup with Orfevre, said the brief respite helped his charge. “During the short break he was given after winning the Kikuka Sho, he was able to loosen up and relax,” said the trainer. “His conditioning went smoothly after returning to the Ritto Training Center and everything went well up to this race. He lost some weight when he arrived here, but I lost all doubts after seeing how he was with my own eyes. He was off slow and traveled on the rail, but the jockey was able to steer him out in the backstretch, and I knew then that he would get the job done. As I’ve said before, we are aiming for the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, but are also examining the possibilities of racing him in Dubai in March.”
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News