HORSE RACING | Newcomer Takeshi Yokoyama rides Efforia to victory in the 164th Tenno Sho



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The Tenno Sho, which means Imperial Prize, has been an annual event in Japanese horse racing since the late 1930s, not once but twice a year.

The 164th Tenno Sho (Fall) wrote a story tied to the event’s rich history, and also made the newest part of the race at Tokyo Racecourse special. Aspiring jockey Takeshi Yokoyama, 22, conquered a deep, talented field and won a Class I race for the second week in a row.

Gran Alegria landed a neck length behind Contrail. The two were sired by the legendary thoroughbred Deep Impact, the 2006 Tenno Sho (spring) champion.

The winning streak in the race for the Frenchman Christophe Lemaire, the jockey of Gran Alegria, ended with a third place. Lemaire was champion aboard Rey de Oro in 2018, followed by back-to-back wins with now-retired legend Almond Eye in 2019 and ’20.

Yokoyama’s winning time was 1 minute 57.9 seconds on the pitch. He received the grand prize of Â¥ 150 million JPY (US $ 1.3 million). (Watch a rerun of the race here.)

Aboard the 3-year-old Efforia, Yokoyama stormed out of the gate from his No. 5 position and effectively controlled his drive from start to finish, claiming his third G1 career win from the Japan Racing Association. Coach Yuichi Shikato also took his third G1 victory.

And who was the last three-year-old to win the Fall Tenno Sho?

Symboli Kris S in 2022.

In the beginning, Efforia was a few steps behind the clocks. However, he never dropped out of the race and maintained a solid pace throughout the race.

Kaiser Minoru set the pace, but finally lost in the back of the field in the final sequence of the race.

The lead of Gran Alegria with 300 meters from the end slipped.

Efforia secured victory on the 200-meter pole, holding back Contrail and Gran Alegria’s spirited pursuit on the final stretch. He operated from the outside with a lot of freedom of movement for his legs.

It was Efforia’s first outing against older competition and he was ready for the challenge. Contrail is 4 years old, Gran Alegria is 5.

Takeshi Yokoyama raises his profile

On October 24th, Yokoyama and the defending champion triumphed at the 82nd Kikuka Sho at the Hanshin Racecourse.

Seven days later, he joined his father Norihiro and grandfather Tomio as winners of the Tenno Sho (Fall).

In 1969, the family patriarch held the reins when Mejiro Taiyo triumphed.

In 2009, Norihiro Yokoyama Company rode to victory, with his 8-year-old horse becoming the oldest first-time winner of a Japanese G1 race.

Unsurprisingly, Tomio’s grandson was full of emotion on Sunday afternoon.

“I cried with joy for the first time in my life,” said Takeshi Yokoyama after the race.

Analyzing Efforia’s performance, he added, “He’s a good starter and a smart racer so I decided to believe in his abilities and drive him without thinking too much. We were able to ride in an ideal position and I didn’t insist on the inner course because I knew it could handle it, even if we had to turn a little wider. ”

World premiere, winner of this year’s Tenno Sho (spring), took 11th place in the 16-horse field in front of 9,867 announced spectators.

The rider of Norihiro Yokoyama, Emperor Minoru, took 14th place. Takeshi’s older brother Kazuo Yokoyama led Tosen Surya to 15th place.

Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forwards [Japan Sports Notebook] here sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week and Twitter ed_odeven.


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