Western Express was unable to match the strength of Japan’s best milers when 10th in the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen (1600m) at Tokyo Racecourse today (Sunday, 3 June) but connections were proud of the gelding’s effort, nonetheless.
“To be honest, I’m over the moon with the horse,” jockey Sam Clipperton said.
“He gave us a sight, he gave people back in Hong Kong something to cheer as we turned for home but it’s a tough mile here at Tokyo. He got to the top of the rise and he’d come to the end of it.
“In saying that, he didn’t drop out, he stuck on well and at the 200 (metres) he was still just three lengths off them. It wasn’t a weak Group 1, he was in against strong, genuine Japanese milers and I thought he acquitted himself really well.”
Trainer John Size’s chestnut passed the post almost seven lengths behind the winner.
“He ran as well as he could. The horses in the race are just too strong for him,” Size said.
“He stood in the gate quietly and jumped well on terms with the other horses. He got a nice run through the first section of the race – he was fifth, one off the fence, so we couldn’t ask better than that. He went to make a run and he just wasn’t strong enough to get up the hill to the line.”
As the Group 1 Champions Mile second boxed-on in defeat, Christophe Lemaire drove Mozu Ascot past the game filly Aerolithe to win by a neck. Suave Richard was a further three quarters of a length away in third.
Trainer Yoshito Yahagi’s victorious Frankel four-year-old clocked 1m 31.3s in front of a crowd numbering 61,215.
The chestnut’s maiden Group 1 win at the first attempt came just seven days after he placed second in a 1400m Listed contest at Kyoto.
Yahagi said that his charge will now enjoy a summer break, after which, December’s Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile would be one of a handful of options under consideration.