Japan Cup Victory is Almond Eye’s Crowning Glory
The 40th Japan Cup, a Grade One (G1) Japan Horse Racing Association race held at the Tokyo Racecourse on November 29, was won by Almond Eye (a 5-year-old filly from the Kunieda Sakae stable) ridden by Christophe Lemaire. The victory was the crowning glory for Almond Eye, a triple-crown-winning filly the year before last who was competing in her last race before retirement. The horse also broke its own record for the most G1 victories over turf, bringing it to 9 (including one overseas).
Contrail – the undefeated triple classic winner sired by Deep Impact – ridden by Fukunaga Yuichi; and the first-ever undefeated triple-crown-winning filly Daring Tact, ridden by Matsuyama Kohei, also competed in the race creating an unprecedented head-to-head between three triple-crown-winning horses. The race was won by Almond Eye, who pulled away on the final straight ahead of the chasing Contrail in second place, with Daring Tact in third, both of whom suffered their first Japan Cup defeats.
The chief breeder of Northern Farm, where Almond Eye was raised until 5 months old, cheered the horse on while watching the race on TV at home. “I’m so happy, and relieved that she managed to race without incident to the very end,” he said after the horse achieved her 9th G1 victory. “I’d like to cooperate with other staff members to someday raise a horse that exceeds Almond Eye.”
At an off-track betting shop in Tomakomai in central Hokkaido, a company employee who bet on Almond Eye said “All the horses had the strength to compete, which made for an interesting race.” Another fan of horseracing from an early age spoke emotionally. “I didn’t bet because I wanted to enjoy the race in its purest form. It was almost as if [Almond Eye] was flying.”
After making her debut in 2018, Almond Eye won four G1 races in the same season before being selected as Horse of the Year. As well as the 300-million-yen prizemoney this time, Almond Eye’s total prizemoney (including that from overseas) topped 1,915,263,900 yen, surpassing Kitasan Black to become the all-time No. 1, with a record of 11 wins from 15 races.
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