Local hero Orfevre will have to rewrite the thirty-one year history of the running of the Japan Cup on Sunday if the four year old is to win Japan’s prestigious Group 1 US$6.5m 2400m feature at Tokyo from the extreme outside barrier.
British bookmakers have eased Orfevre’s pre post price to as much as 2-1 after the barrier draw but the top class stayer remains the favourite ahead of other local hopefuls Gentildonna, Rulership and Fenomeno all at 8-1.
French filly Solemia, who fought back to beat Orfevre in the Group 1 €4m QATAR Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe (2400m) at Longchamp in France on October 7, came up with barrier fourteen and shares the next line of betting at 10-1 with English stayer Mount Athos and local chance Eishin Flash.
While no Japan Cup winner has jumped from barrier seventeen, Solemia’s fourteen gate has been the most successful and has provided six winners in the history of the race.
Solemia’s trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias is not concerned about the statistic leading into the race but is content with the fact that his Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe winner will be on the outside of the field and won’t get blocked in traffic during the race.
“I’m not superstitious. It’s more important that all the best horses are on the outside,” Laffon-Parias said.
“We need a good pace. If there is pace, she will not go to the front early. If there is not, Olivier Peslier knows her well and he can go forward.”
Several of the trainers of the fancied runners are also concerned that there appears to be a lack of pace in the race and this could greatly affect their chances.
Mattie Cumani, deputising for his father Luca said the stable might have to ride Mount Athos closer to the lead after the five year old couldn’t make up enough ground from back in the field when fifth to Green Moon in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 6.
“We’d normally drop Mount Athos out, but it doesn’t look as there will be a lot of pace, so we may have to be quite close, in third or fourth,” Cumani said.
And Becky Dunlop for her husband Ed is also hoping for some pace in the race to help jockey Gerald Mosse slot Red Cadeaux into a nice position midfield.
“We’re happy with the draw, but he’s a hold-up horse, and we’d be hoping for pace in the race, so that we can slot in around the middle division,” Becky Dunlop said.
Jakkalbery will again clash with Mount Athos and Red Cadeaux after the Marco Botti trained six year old was the first of the European trained stayers to finish in the Melbourne Cup when third.
Lucie Botti, representing the stable for husband Marco was happy with barrier eleven and is also questioning where the pace will come from in the early stages of the race.
“There’s no obvious front-runner but he’s usually a slow starter and should be able to get a good middle-division position,” Lucie Botti said.
Japanese jockey Kenichi Ikezoe replaces Christophe Soumillon on Orfevre after the top French jockey partnered the four year old in both of her starts at Longchamp but came under heavy criticism for his ride in the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe.
After bringing the Japanese stayer wide on the track, Soumillon hit the front with ease a long way out and after being clearly headed, Olivier Peslier was able to left Solemia back to the lead close to the finish to take out the major prize.
Soumillon won’t be without a ride in the rich event and has picked up the mount on 20-1 chance Tosen Jordan who was well beaten in his Japan Cup lead up race when thirteenth to Eishen Flash in the Group 1 US$3.437m Tenno Sho (Autumn) (2000m) at Tokyo on October 28.