Moore’s mount Gentildonna the one to beat in the Japan Cup

Ryan Moore’s mount Gentildonna has been identified as the horse to beat in Sunday’s Japan Cup – by connections of all three European-trained horses trying to land the huge prize this weekend at Tokyo racecourse.

Moore, who partnered Sunday’s rival Joshua Tree to win the Canadian International on his most recent start, is replaced by Johnny Murtagh on the six-year-old, and joined by French-trained Dunaden and Ireland’s Simenon in the 33rd running of the 521 million yen (£3.23m) contest.

Gentildonna, 2-1 joint favourite alongside Gold Ship with Paddy Power, is bidding to become the first repeat winner of Japan’s richest race, having scored under Yasunari Iwata in 2012, when she also landed the fillies’ Triple Crown.

After watching Simenon stretch his legs on Thursday morning, Emmet Mullins was in no doubt about who would be the toughest nut to crack in a race won by visitors only once in the last decade via Alkaased in 2005.

“Gentildonna is obviously a very good racemare,” said Mullins, assistant to his uncle, who won the Nakayama Grand Jump in April with Blackstairmountain. “She has the form and will be very hard to beat.

“Simemon took a day or two to come back after he travelled from Australia but he did some fast work on Tuesday and was impressive and he should be 100 per cent after his gallop today.”

Ed Dunlop’s assistant Andrew Stringer also rates Gentildonna as the horse to watch. “Obviously Ryan Moore is one ofthe finest jockeys in the world riding one of the best Japanese horses so he’s got to be a big danger to everyone in the field,” said Stringer.

“There are three Japanese horses – Gentildonna, Gold Ship and Eishin Flash – all of whom have form 10lb superior to Joshua Tree so we need one of those to run poorly to get into the serious prize-money.”

Dunaden, winner of the Emirates Melbourne Cup in 2011, arrives in Japan after a down-the-field effort in this year’s running of the Flemington two-miler, where Simenon was fourth.   “We finished behind Gentildonna in Dubai so we know how good she is,” said Mathieu Brasme, representing trainer Mikel Delzangles. “She’ll be a formidable opponent again.”

Gentildonna’s trainer Sei Ishizaka is pleased with the filly’s progress since she finsihed second in last month’s Tenno Sho.   “We worked her alone this morning and she got a nice workout in, with everything going as I wanted it to,” said the trainer.

“Last week, she worked in tandem and that went well too and I think the jockey has got a good handle on the horse. She’s done everything she needed to this week and she’s eating well.

“This year, we’ve got some powerful new players in the line-up, but she put up a great fight last year amid strong competition and she likes the 2,400 metres at Tokyo so we’ve got no worries there.”

Source: Racing Post 21 November 2013

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