Cup Heroine Retires In Blaze Of Glory

Gentildonna bows out with superb Gr1 victory

Gentildonna claims her seventh top-flight success in the Arima Kinen

Gentildonna claims her seventh top-flight success in the Arima Kinen

Japan’s end-of-season grand prix had a fairytale ending as hugely popular racemare Gentildonna  bowed out in style with her seventh victory at the top level, equalling the national record established by her sire, the great Deep Impact.

The five-year-old, who made history with back-to-back Japan Cup triumphs in 2012 and 2013, scored in the Gr1 Arima Kinen run over 2500m by three-quarters of a length over longshot To The World, the mount of William Buick.

Gentildonna had not won since this year’s Dubai Sheema Classic, where she beat Cirrus Des Aigles with Ryan Moore in the saddle. Keita Tosaki did the steering in the 59th running of the Arima Kinen, where Gentildonna brought the house down in front of a crowd of 110,000 in a Y416 million (£2.22m/€2.84m) contest known in Japan as the people’s race.

Tosaki said: “I’m really glad she was able to show her best performance in the last race of her career. When I rode her the last time [in the Tenno Sho (Autumn)], she was easy to ride and very clever, so I felt very comfortable riding her this time.

“I was able to race her just as I had imagined, settling her towards the front and making use of her persistent late charge. She responded well until the end.”

Sent off a 7.7-1 shot, Gentildonna had a favourable draw in gate four and was always in a favourable stalking position on the rail round the tight Nakayama circuit.

Just A Way - also retired after running fourth

Just A Way – also retired after running fourth

As the race developed into a sprint, severely compromising several of her fancied rivals, she got the better of Japan Cup victor Epiphaneia, who had hit the front after turning for home. The mare then held off To The World, who touched off fans’ favourite – and 5-2 market leader – Gold Ship for second place.

Just A Way, the world’s highest-rated horse, finished strongly for fourth after being hampered by a wide draw, one place in front of Epiphaneia.

Like Gentildonna, Just A Way has now been retired.

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