Racing: Stoute in the yen again

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The Land Of The Rising Sun has become the territory for the rising influence of Michael Stoute, who won the nation's premier prize for the second consecutive year. Richard Edmondson reports.

Pilsudski will have yet another line with which to titillate his breeding shed amours following yesterday's victory in the Japan Cup. It was a courageous, fibre-testing final performance at Fuchu racecourse in Tokyo, an example of the sort of fortitude the five-year-old will be expected to pass on to his progeny when he retires to stud in the Land Of The Rising Sun.

Pilsudski was restrained in mid-division by his jockey, Michael Kinane, a portion off his intended position, but still had energy in reserve as the field swept into the straight. From there he accelerated thrillingly and burst to the head of the contest 100 yards out before repelling Air Groove. He may, once again, have looked beautiful on the outside, but the telling stuff was the armour plating on the other side of his skin.

"I was pushed back further into the field than I wanted to be but he slotted in well," Kinane reported. "He was cruising turning into the straight and I knew I had the horse with finishing speed. But I thought Air Groove might beat me when she came past one furlong out and I had to rally Pilsudski and go at her again. It was tough."

They say it takes a sexy name to win a Derby so Bubble Gum Fellow, the favourite, did well to finish third in this race, one of the most valuable in the world. Caitano, for Germany, finished fourth, while Astarabad was sixth for France. Ireland's Oscar Schindler was eighth and Mons tenth for Luca Cumani.

Pilsudski's victory was an advertisement for keeping a horse in training. It was not so long ago that he was a failure in a handicap at Royal Ascot, but maturity has allowed him to become one of the best horses in the world. Only the exalted, such as Helissio and Peintre Celebre, ended up being his superior.

The win was also a plug for the merits of pool betting. The winner paid over 7-2 on the Tote, which is either an explanation for why the Nippon stock market is going down the tubes or an indication of the Shylock odds offered by the Blighty bookies.

Michael Stoute's Freemason Lodge will now have two of its greatest pillars removed for next season. Singspiel, the former Japan Cup winner, whose career ended sorrowfully when an injury prevented him from taking his chance in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Hollywood Park in the United States, has also gone, and now the Newmarket trainer will have to find other noble beasts to provide him with a percentage. "I am very fortunate to win with two determined and wonderful horses," he said yesterday. "They are both amazingly courageous horses and without that courage neither would have won.

"I always thought that Pilsudski had a very good chance but I knew we were up against tough competition and I didn't underestimate his task at the end of a long season."


6.20am: (1m 4f Group 1 Japan Cup)


2. Air Groove Y Take

3. Bubble Gum Fellow Y Okabe

Also ran: Caitano (4th), Silk Justice (5th), Astarabad (6th), Tsukuba Symphony (7th), Oscar Schindler (8th), Rosen Kavalier (9th), Mons (10th), Royal Touch (11th), Ebony Grosve (12th), Snow Endeavor (13th), Taiki Fortune (14th).

14 ran. nk, 11/4, nk, nk, hd, 1/2, 3, 1/2, 1/2, 1/2, 2, 11/2, 4.(M Stoute, Great Britain). Tote: (including 100 Yen stake): 460; 160, 140, 140. DF 860. Time: 2min 25.8sec.


Five-year-old bay horse by Polish Precedent out of Cocotte (who was by Troy) Total

Placings: 20113/2181121-32121211 win & place

Starts wins 2nd 3rd prize-money

22 10 six two pounds 2,813,633

The victories

November 1997 Tokyo 1m 4f Japan Cup pounds 882.096

October 1997 Newmarket 1m 2f Champion Stakes pounds 233,014

September 1997 Leopardstown 1m 2f Irish Champion Stakes pounds 87,921

July 1997 Sandown 1m 2f Eclipse Stakes pounds 145,440

October 1996 Woodbine 1m 4f Breeders' Cup Turf pounds 670,968

September 1996 Baden-Baden 1m 4f Grosser Preis Von Baden pounds 146,396

August 1996 Curragh 1m 2f Royal Whip Stakes pounds 16,753

May 1996 Sandown 1m 2f Brigadier Gerard Stakes pounds 19,650

July 1995 Goodwood 1m 4f Tote Gold Trophy H'cap pounds 37,270

July 1995 Newmarket 1m 2f Duke Of Cambridge H'cap pounds 19,413