World Class: Japan’s magic Diamond could sparkle in Arc

Satono Diamond on his way to winning the Arima Kinen

PICTURE: Masakazu Takahashi World Class: Japan's magic Diamond has ability to sparkle in Arc By Sam Walker 7:38AM 28 DEC 2016

SATONO DIAMOND looks set for a successful 2017 campaign after becoming just the fourth three-year-old since 2002 to beat the older generation in the Arima Kinen at Nakayama on Sunday.

The son of Deep Impact got up late to beat Kitasan Black in the dying strides of the final championship race of the season, marking himself as the leading three-year-old in Japan this year with an RPR of 123.

He's been in great form all season and has been gradually improving, finishing third in the Satsuki Sho (Guineas) before running Makahiki to a nose in the Tokyo Yushun (Derby) and then bagging a deserved Classic success in the Kikuka Sho (St Leger).

This was his best performance yet and there should be more to come next year when he will take on the world, with the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe his ultimate aim.

Trainer has Arc history

His trainer Yasutoshi Ikee has plenty of experience chasing the French prize having sent over Orfevre to finish second twice in the great race – he should have won but threw it away in 2012 and was beaten five lengths by Treve in 2013.

Orfevre won the Prix Niel before both his Arc attempts, so it should be safe to assume Ikee will take the same tried and tested route with his new star, although whether he can improve enough to win an Arc is another matter.

The ten-year average RPR for an Arc winner is 127.8 and the Japanese colt would probably need to find at least 5lb to make a race of it with the current favourite Almanzor, who posted a 129 RPR when winning the Champion Stakes.

A 6lb improvement may be pushing it for Satono Diamond, but even if he doesn't prove up to winning an Arc he should achieve something of note next year based on Sunday's performance.

Form has substance

The runner-up Kitasan Black (122), beaten a neck, is very consistent and sets a high benchmark on the back of his cosy win in the Japan Cup. Last year's Arima Kinen winner Gold Actor (121) lends further substance to the form, finishing a further half-length away in third.

Thanks to their excellent prize-money, Japanese horses tend to stay in training at four and five and their older-horse division always boasts a bit of depth. When a youngster proves good enough to beat them all in the Arima Kinen he normally turns out to be a horse of real quality.

The only three-year-olds to win the Nakayama Grade 1 in the last decade were Victoire Pisa, who won the Dubai World Cup three months later; Orfevre, who twice went on to be crowned the world middle-distance champion; and Gold Ship, who went on to land Grade 1 races for the next three seasons.

Sheema Classic a possibility?

Satono Diamond has some big hooves to follow, but he can make his mark at home and overseas.

He's in the betting for the Dubai Sheema Classic at the moment, although Ikee never took Orfevre to Dubai, so it might be worth waiting on running plans before backing him for that.

If he does run, a repeat of his latest RPR of 123 would put him just above the ten-year average of 121.6 for Sheema Classic winners.

Japan also have a good recent record in the race, hitting the frame in each of the last four renewals and winning it with Gentildonna in 2014.

All told, he's a nice addition to the carryover for 2017. The three-year-old crop are already well represented with Arrogate, Almanzor and Minding set to train on at four and all of them have beaten their elders in the final championship race on their continent.

Furthermore, all of them may not yet have shown their best, which bodes well for the quality of top-level racing next year.

Stage set for Pegasus World Cup

The Arima Kinen was traditionally the last big Flat race in the world for some time, but the Pegasus World Cup is set to slot neatly into the void.

The inaugural running of the Pegasus will be run at Gulfstream Park on January 28. With $12 million available to the winner, it will become the richest race in the world and, as such, it's garnered quite a bit of interest.

Arrogate and California Chrome sit first and second in the global RPR standings for 2016 after their incredible performances in the Breeders' Cup Classic and both horses are currently eyeballing the Gulfstream purse.

California Chrome showed he's in great form with an effortless 12-length success in a minor stakes race at Los Alamitos, in which he earned an RPR of 130+, while Arrogate is pencilled to prep in a Grade 2 at Santa Anita on Sunday.


Name (country trained)RaceRating
1Arrogate (US)Breeders' Cup Classic136D
2California Chrome (US)Breeders' Cup Classic135D
3Frosted (US)Metropolitan Handicap130D
Winx (AUS)Cox Plate130T
5Almanzor (Fr)Champion Stakes129T
6A Shin Hikari (Jpn)Prix d'Ispahan126T
A.P. Indian (US)Forego Stakes126D
Limato (GB)Prix de la Foret126T
Postponed (GB)Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup126T
10Aerovelocity (HK)Centenary Sprint Cup125T
Fascinating Rock (Ire)Tattersalls Gold Cup125T
Mecca's Angel (GB)Nunthorpe Stakes125T


Name (country trained)RaceRating
1Winx (AUS)Cox Plate130
2Almanzor (Fr)Champion Stakes129
3A Shin Hikari (Jpn)Prix d'Ispahan126
LimatoPrix de la Foret126
Postponed (GB)Sheema Classic/Coronation Cup126
6Aerovelocity (HK)Centenary Sprint Cup125
Fascinating Rock (Ire)Tattersalls Gold Cup125
Limato (GB)Darley July Cup125
Mecca's Angel (GB)Nunthorpe Stakes125
10Chautauqua (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124
Found (Ire)Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe124
Galileo Gold (GB)St James's Palace Stakes124
Harzand (Ire)Derby124
Highland Reel (Ire)Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe124
Maurice (Jpn)Hong Kong Cup124
Terravista (Aus)Black Caviar Lightning124
The Gurkha (Ire)Sussex Stakes124
Time Test (GB)Brigadier Gerard124


Name (country trained)RaceRating
1Arrogate (US)Breeders' Cup Classic136
2California Chrome (US)Breeders' Cup Classic135
3Frosted (US)Metropolitan Handicap130
4A.P. IndianForego Stakes126
5Beholder (US)Breeders' Cup Distaff124
Nyquist (US)Kentucky Derby124
Songbird (US)Cotillion124
8Classic Empire (US)Breeders' Cup Juvenile123
Dortmund (US)San Diego Handicap123
Drefong (US)Breeders' Cup Sprint123
Exaggerator (US)Haskell Invitational123

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