Japan 2000 Guineas: Godolphin have high hopes for Darlington Hall
Tetsuya Kimura-trained colt steps up in class to take on the best three-year-old colts in Japan at Nakyama on Sunday
The president of Godolphin in Japan, Harry Sweeney, believes Darlington Hall will the benefit from a run earlier this year when he lines up in Sunday's Japanese 2000 Guineas.
The Tetsuya Kimura-trained colt edged out Bitterender by a nose to clinch the Grade 3 Kyodo News Hai at Tokyo in February and steps up in class to take on the best three-year-old colts in Japan at Nakyama on Sunday.
According to the Japan Racing Association ratings there are six horses in the Grade 1 Satsuki Sho race with a higher rating than Darlington Hall.
“But ratings are, of course, a very imprecise science and there will be much to play for on Sunday,” Sweeney told the Godolphin website.
“Both Contrail and Salios [both undefeated in three starts each] were Grade 1 winners last year and are clearly very talented, but both will be having their first runs of this year.
“Darlington Hall is approaching the race in very good form. He had a very minor hold up about two weeks ago but is well over that now and has worked very pleasingly during the week.”
The Godolphin colt made a winning debut at Hakodate in July and was third in both his other juvenile starts, including going down by three lengths in the Grade 3 Sapporo Nisai Stakes over the same trip at the end of August.
“He won the Kyodo News Hai on his last outing on good ground and, as rain is forecast for the Tokyo area, we are hoping that the ground will again be good and not firm,” Sweeney said, adding the five-time Italian champion jockey Mirco Demuro will ride Darlington Hall.
At the Hanshin Cacecourse, also in Japan, Wild Card carries Godolphin’s hopes in the Grade 3 Antares Stakes.
“Wild Card flopped badly on his latest start and finished last of 16 runners despite starting as second favourite,” Sweeney said of the horse that has already won in excess of $1 million (Dh3.67m) in prize money.
“Neither the trainer nor the jockey were able to explain that very disappointing performance but it is interesting to note that his only other poor run in a 13-race career was also at Nakayama.
“If his two Nakayama runs are ignored, he has won or finished in the first four in every other start.
“This weekend, he will be running at Hanshin, where he has won two of his previous three starts including a Listed event last December over the same course and distance.
“His regular jockey Hiroshi Kitamura was initially declared to ride him but subsequently suffered an injury while riding at the training centre and has been ruled out. Mirai Iwata will now be in the irons.”
On Saturday, the Royal Blues added two more winners to take their worldwide tally for the year to 176, both in Australia.
Kateru won at Kemble Grange and Ranier was successful at Randwick, both for trainer James Cummings.
Bivouac finished fifth in the Grade 1 All Aged Stakes while Trekking and Deprive were second and third respectively in the Grade 3 Tab Hall Mark Stakes at the same Randwick meeting.
Updated: April 18, 2020 01:23 PM