Agnes triumph heralds a new world order

Japanese raider's victory in the July Cup confirms the increasing global influence of the Land Of The Rising Sun
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The Independent Online

The creeping influence of Japanese racing reached the headquarters of British racing here yesterday. Agnes World won the July Cup and we must now prepare for more incursions from the land of the rising equine significance.

The creeping influence of Japanese racing reached the headquarters of British racing here yesterday. Agnes World won the July Cup and we must now prepare for more incursions from the land of the rising equine significance.

Until recently Japan had been in happy insularity, its connection with European racing confined largely to the stallions purchased abroad. But now it is no longer sufficient to be a domestic ogre. To convince the Japanese audience, you have to convince others as well. "To be taken seriously at home," Teruya Yoshida, Agnes World's part-owner, says, "you have to win abroad."

So last year we saw a small rampage across France by El Condor Pasa, Seeking The Pearl and Taiki Shuttle. And now the range has spread even further westwards and a Japanese-trained horse has won in Britain for the first time.

"You can't underestimate horses coming out of Japan any more," Simon Crisford, the racing manager to another modern global force in Godolphin, said yesterday. "They have to be respected because they have demonstrated the quality of their breeding stock and racehorses, and their training techniques have improved so much. They are a force to be reckoned with and we, and everyone else, are going to have to be really sharp to repel their raids."

Agnes World was not an obvious pioneer of excellence yesterday. He was short and squat and remarkable only by his shocking pink bandages. Pipalong was more striking, snorting through her white bridle, while Lincoln Dancer kept the man with the shovel busy.

The Japanese horse led as the 10 runners (Rossini did not, again, deign to enter the stalls) unfolded their limbs just after the start, but it was Primo Valentino who dominated the first half of the race.

When it started to hurt, Agnes World dropped back temporarily, but elsewhere two stablemates were doing even worse damage to themselves. The Godolphin entry of Bertolini and Lend A Hand had been compromised enough by being drawn one and two, but when they staged an in-house collision just over a furlong out it really was the end. "There was one gap, two horses and two jockeys trying for their lives," Crisford explained.

Yutaka Take, on Agnes World, must also have been giving his all but it was not an effort announced by his body language. There was no violence in his actions, no panic in his whip arm, as he gradually gathered his partner and worked back to the front about 150 yards out. Lincoln Dancer and Pipalong both mounted late challenges, but were a short-head and the same away at the line.

Take, talking through an interpreter, said: "My horse felt good before the race so I felt confident. I always thought he would be good enough. It is a great pleasure for me to win and I am very happy."

Agnes World won the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp last year but he will let someone else have a go this autumn. He now goes instead for the Prix Maurice du Gheest at Deauville and will then go home before being prepared for the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot next June.

There could be plenty more to take in about the Japanese arrival. Agnes World has been staying at Geoff Wragg's yard and he has not been lonely because another Yoshida horse, Air Shakur, has been sharing the same digs. Britain has given up a July Cup and now there is the prospect of losing something even more dear, a race with monarchy in its title. Two weeks tomorrow, Air Shakur goes for the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Vacamonte is a top-priced 20-1 with Coral (who laid 33-1 straight after the race) for next year's 2,000 Guineas and as short as 20-1 for next year's Derby with Ladbrokes after his winning debut in the Superlative Stakes. The Henry Cecil-trained colt quickened well to beat Shadowless by three and a half lengths. Cecil said: "I knew this one was better than Tuesday's winner [Londoner]. I'd like to think that he will improve and make up into a Group One horse." Vacamonte now goes for the Champagne Lanson Vintage Stakes at Goodwood.

Khulan is 14-1 favourite with Coral for next year's 1,000 Guineas after her winning debut in the Princess Maiden Stakes. Winning trainer John Dunlop said: "She is a lovely filly with a wonderful pedigree. The Cheveley Park is the long-term target but the Lowther at York next month is her next race."

Tayseer's odds were halved to 10-1 by the Tote for the International Handicap at Ascot on 29 July after his victory in the Bunbury Cup. The Tote have also made Nice One Clare, who finished third in this race, 7-1 favourite for the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood the following weekend.