Deep Impact - Donna Blini
Sunday Racing Co. Ltd's Gentildonna (Jpn) (Deep Impact), propelled by a season-and career-ending victory in the G1 Arima Kinen on 28 December, easily outpointed G1 Dubai Duty Free Stakes hero Just a Way (Jpn) (Heart's Cry) to earn Japan's Horse of the Year title.
The 5-year-old daughter of G1SW Donna Blini (GB) (Bertolini), the first two-time winner of the G1 Japan Cup, began 2014 with a smashing victory in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic and was fourth in search of a third consecutive Japan Cup before storming down the Nakayama stretch to close her racing career in style in the Arima Kinen. Gentildonna was also a unanimous choice for best older filly or mare, winning that award for the second straight season.
Owner: Sunday Racing Co. Ltd., Shunsuke Yoshida, representative
"It is a great honor for Gentildonna to have been selected as Horse of the Year. Last year, Gentildonna captured the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) in the spring and held off a powerful field in her final race, the Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1), to add a magnificent finishing touch of perfection. I want to express my thanks for her having been able to end, without mishap, a career of over three years as racehorse and, after it all, receive an award such as this."
Trainer: Sei Ishizaka
"I believe this award is in recognition of her performance over the entire year. After winning the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) in the spring, she failed to win two races in the autumn at Tokyo, and then, with her aimed for the Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) (G1), there was much talk regarding it being her first time at Nakayama Racecourse and of whether she could handle a right-handed track and other such, but she defied it all, and I believe her winning the Arima Kinen had a great impact. I want to express my appreciation to all those fans who supported her through to the end."
Jockey: Keita Tosaki
"I think it is an honor to have been named the Horse of the Year in her retirement year, and I feel very happy to have been able to ride this horse. She has retired, but I believe she will, as a broodmare, give us many fine offspring. I hope they will have your support and I myself would like very much to be able to ride some of them."
Just a Way did not leave empty-handed, as that 5-year-old was named best older colt or horse by a wide margin over 2014 Japan Cup hero Epiphaneia (Jpn) (Symboli Kris S). In addition to his smashing success in the Duty Free Stakes, Just a Way cut back to the 1600 meters for a last-jump success in Japan's premier race at the distance, the G1 Yasuda Kinen in June.
In more hotly contested divisions, G1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) and G2 Asahi Hai winner Isla Bonita (Jpn) (Fuji Kiseki) was given the nod as top 3-year-old colt, ahead of G1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) victor One and Only (Jpn) (Heart's Cry), while Harp Star (Jpn) (Deep Impact), the G1 Oka Sho winner, defeated G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) victress Nuovo Record (Jpn) (Heart's Cry) in the 3-year-old filly division.
The juvenile divisions were won in unanimous fashion by top colt Danon Platina (Jpn) (Deep Impact) and filly Shonan Adela (Jpn) (Deep Impact).
Extract from Thoroughbred Daily News/JRA (p)