"Soumillon, welcome to Japan!" yelled an exuberant fan to jockey Christophe Soumillon as he left the paddock on Epiphaneia (Jpn) (Symboli Kris S) before Sunday's G1 Japan Cup. The Belgian grinned and the crowd, otherwise silent, laughed. A few minutes later, Soumillon gave that supporter, and the other 100,185 race fans at Tokyo Racecourse, a reason to really yell when he booted home last year's G1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) winner to a convincing win in the $4.4-million centerpiece.
Keen throughout while tracking the leading pair, Epiphaneia had plenty in the tank as he split rivals at the top of the lane and drove clear to a four-length success from Just A Way (Jpn) (Heart's Cry). The Carrot Farm colorbearer stopped the clock in 2:23.10 for the 2400 meters. Trained by Katsuhiko Sumii, the 4-year-old son of the 2005 GI American Oaks winner Cesario (Jpn) (Special Week) was winning for the first time since the St. Leger. The post-time favorite and two-time defending champion Gentildonna (Jpn) (Deep Impact) finished fourth.
"It's one of the most prestigious races in the world and I'm a very lucky jockey right now," said Soumillon, who was in town to ride in the World Super Jockeys Championship and picked up the mount on Epiphaneia when jockey Yuichi Fukunaga chose to ride Just a Way.
Epiphaneia is the second Japan Cup winner for trainer Katsuhiko Sumii, who also won with Vodka (Jpn) (Tanino Gimlet) in 2009. Sumii, soft-spoken and bespectacled, was uncharacteristically emotional and frank after the win, saying with a big smile, "I'm so surprised. I didn't think he'd gotten enough work."
Extract from TDN/Japan Racing Association (p)