Favourite Soul Stirring took advantage of the firm track condition and demonstrated her class in dominating the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) on Sunday.
The Frankel filly bounced back from a disappointing third in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) in which she failed to show her best on soft ground, the 2016 Best Two-Year-Old Filly also gave jockey Christophe Lemaire a memorable victory.
The French rider was able to celebrate Oaks victories in two countries—one with Soul Stirring’s dam Stacelita with whom he won the 2009 Prix de Diane in France and this time, his first Oaks victory in Japan, with Stacelita’s daughter.
Soul Stirring was well positioned along the rails among the leaders behind Flawless Magic and edged closer to second while angling slightly away from the rails after the third bend.
Moving smoothly through the gears in the straight towards the middle of the track, she assumed command before the furlong pole and drew away to a comfortable victory as Mozu Katchan, looking to have every chance on her inside, failed to peg her back.
Admire Miyabi was another filly to return to form after struggling on the rain sodden track in the Oka Sho and finished well to take third. Held-up after breaking from an outside stall, she made her move approaching the final turn but and swung wide for a clear run. The grey charged home, clocking the fastest finish over the last three furlongs but was unable to reel in the principals.
“It’s such a thrill for me as I also won the Oaks back home with her mother," said Lemaire.
"Soul Stirring certainly has inherited the power both from her sire and her dam. I was quite confident coming into this race. I wasn’t sure yet about the distance as it was her first time (at 12 furlongs) so I wanted her in a good position which I did because she is quick out of the gate. She also has a good lasting speed so I was able to give her the go from early at the stretch and sustain our bid right up to the finish,” he added.
Trainer Kazuo Fujisawa, whose last Group One victory was in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes with Satono Ares last December, became the first JRA trainer to reach a milestone of 100 grade-race title since the graded system was implemented in 1984 while scoring his 25th career Group One win. Lemaire, who also won the Group One Victoria Mile with Admire Lead only last week, was winning his 12th career Group One title.