Both anticipated Graded races at the Japanese tracks saw triumphs of outsiders. Potager caused an upset in the 2022 Osaka Hai, bettering much more preferred participants, including lackluster Efforia, at the Hanshin track. On Saturday, four-year-old Time to Heaven struck gold in the G3 Lord Derby Challenge Trophy, a handicap at the Nakayama Racecourse
Lord Derby Challenge Trophy
The G3 handicap was a competitive matter as sixteen four-year-old and older horses competed for the purse of 78,110,000 Yen on the distance of a mile. On the turf surface, the most successful contestants turned out to be those lurking in the midpack or rear of the field as, at first, Vollkommen (269-10) showed an excellent finish on the outside when improving his position considerably in the final stretch but it was Time To Heaven (26-1) whose turn-of-foot was even more decisive.
The four-year-old passed by his rivals to score by a head in 1m 32.30s, leaving Vollkommen in second and hard trying Darlington Hall (33-10) in third.
The victor, trained by Hirofumi Toda, placed at the Graded scene in the past, but failed to show anything of interest in both of his 2022 outings. On Saturday, he enjoyed the trip, though, and under the patient ride of Takuya Ono, Time To Heaven saved up his energy throughout the race to sprint alongside the field in the final stretch.
Finishing from last to first, the son of Lord Kanaloa came home in time to score narrowly in front of Vollkommen, a six-year-old participant who placed at the Graded scene for the very first time. Darlington Hall confirmed there’s something about him by this fine effort, and next time out, he might reach even a better result. Gratias (23-5) ran in fourth, being the best of the rest of quite preferred contestants.
2022 Osaka Hai
An even bigger surprise occurred in this G1 turf race, offering the purse of 384,800,000 Yen, as the Japanese Horse of the Year, Efforia (1-2), utterly flopped on Sunday. At the distance of a mile and a quarter, consistent Potager (58-1) triumphed among four-year-old and older horses in a tight finish, achieving not only his premiere G1 win but also first Graded victory.
The five-year-old horse delivered a great finish to sentence last year’s scorer Lei Papale (41-5) to second, with Arrivo (47-1) looming large to secure third place.
From the beginning, the race unfolded favourably for five-year-old Lei Papale, who sat behind the leader Jack d’Or (27-10), attempting to win the sixth start in a row; however, he just overdone the pace and weakened in the final stretch.
Despite scoring the G2 race last time out, he couldn’t hold a candle to some of his rivals on Sunday as Lei Papale passed him by easily, reminding the good old Lei Papale who won the Osaka Hai 2021 but was a bit disappointing in her next outings. This time, she went forward, fighting bravely with Arrivo and Hishi Iguazu (26-1), finishing on the outside, but she simply couldn’t resist Potager.
The Yasuo Tomomichi bound horse is always trying hard and keeps on delivering, and on Sunday, he was rewarded for his consistent efforts with a narrow G1 victory when thronging through his rivals in the closing stages. In the end, there was just ¼ of a length between the first three, Potager – Lei Papale – Arrivo, while the fourth Hishi Iguazu was very close, too.
Jack d’Or had to settle for fifth, while favourite Efforia didn’t have a single moment in the spotlight, settling in the midfield and never really managing to move forward. He crossed the wire in ninth, recording his worst result in the whole career.
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