Tenno Sho (Autumn) (Group 1)

THE third-favorite Efforia won an exciting top-class renewal of the Group 1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) in Tokyo on Sunday, to become the first three-year-old to win the race since Symboli Kris S in 2002.

The Epiphaneia colt had won the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) in April, a fourth consecutive win since his debut last summer.

He then suffered his first defeat in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) in May where he finished just a nose second to Shahryar.

The race, on good to firm conditions and in front of a limited attendance, lived up to its promise between the three favourites.

The mare Gran Alegria had raced close to the pace and was the first to commit but she always had stamina doubts over the 10 furlongs.

Efforia had settled sixth from the front and jockey Takeshi Yokoyama took the outer route entering the straight as the colt responded to the jockey’s urging.

The three-year-old displayed an impressive burst of speed, overtaking Gran Alegria passing the furlong pole and holding off the strong late charge by the race favourite, Contrail, to capture the Tenno Sho title in his first start against older horses.

“I cried with joy for the first time in my life, as I was very disappointed with the result of the Derby. He’s a good starter and a clever racer so I decided to believe in his ability and ride him without thinking too much.

“We were able to race in an ideal position and I didn’t insist on the inner course as I knew that he can handle it even if we had to turn a little wider,” jockey Takeshi Yokoyama said.

Last year’s Triple Crown winner Contrail hugged the rails in ninth after breaking smoothly from stall one, raced two wide and was moved to the outside at the top of the stretch to avoid traffic.

The Deep Impact colt unleashed a powerful late charge, the fastest over the last three furlongs but was unable to get on terms with the winner who had gotten first run, to finish a length behind in second.

Jockey Takeshi Yokoyama was winning his third JRA-Group 1 following last week’s Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) with Titleholder.