There was a rare sight in the winner’s enclosure at Niigata in Japan on Sunday after the white thoroughbred Hayayakko had won the Gr3 Leopard Stakes – the country’s only Graded dirt race.
The three-year-old colt, who was winning for the third time from nine starts, was providing owner Kaneko Makoto Holdings with a poignant success following the death of their sire sensation Deep Impact earlier in the week.
Held up towards the rear, Hayayakko headed favourite Derma Louvre, fourth in the UAE Derby at Meydan, to strike by a neck.
Winning rider Hironobu Tanabe said: “It is a very rare opportunity to ride a white racehorse and it’s a historical moment.”
Horses officially registered as white are extremely rare. At the time of his Classic Chase win at Warwick in 2016 Russe Blanc was said to be the only white horse in training in Britain.
The Rathmor-bred Gran Blanco attracted worldwide interest in 2011 when becoming the first ever white thoroughbred foal born in South Africa.