Victoire Pisa is healthy again and ready to make a mark in the Japan Cup, a that race will go a long way to determining the best middle distance Turf champion of the year.
Victoire Pisa back in form for Japan Cup
When Katsuhiko Sumii delivers an upbeat report on a racehorse, it often pays to listen.
One of the most talented and adventurous thoroughbred handlers in the sport has proclaimed that Victoire Pisa, his Dubai World Cup winner, is trained to the minute for his assignment in Sunday's Japan Cup in Tokyo.
The race promises to crown the middle distance Turf champion, with 11 Grade or Group 1 winners in the field of 18, including the record-breaking Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winner, Danedream.
Due to a run of injuries, Victoire Pisa has yet to compete since lighting up Meydan Racecourse in March with a victory in the world's richest race.
"I can feel that he is now completely in 'race mode', and I think we have him at his peak," said Sumii. "The field is strong and it's the kind of race that decides the top horse in the world. I would have liked to race him once before this, but he is in good shape."
Victoire Pisa will be reunited with Mirco Demuro, the jockey whose flash of brilliance mid-race in Dubai proved the difference between success and failure.
"It's been eight months and he has had some hard training," the Italian said. "He's the kind of horse that doesn't give 100 per cent in training.
"So, in work this week, I don't know really how much he gave me."
Getting horses back after a layoff is an inexact science, but on Wednesday Victoire Pisa went about his paces in good style under Demuro's guidance and the watchful gaze of Sumii.
"It's not going to be easy to win, but we are going to give it our best. He has a good feel for race tactics and has a strong desire to win,"Demuro said.
Buena Vista was disqualified 12 months ago for hampering Rose Kingdom, who was later awarded the race by the stewards, and both make the line-up.
Hiroyoshi Matsuda, Buena Vista's trainer, has underlined that his reigning Japanese horse of the year is thriving, and after a heavy workload she is now "more powerful and faster". It is one of the strongest fields for years and Sumii is going to have to be correct is his assessment for Victoire Pisa to even beat the Japanese horses, let alone the foreign challenge led by Danedream.
Peter Schiergen, the Arc winner's trainer, said: "She really hates to lose so she'll probably show us a strong performance."
Danedream lost weight during her trip to the Far East, but since arriving on November 16 she has put it back on to tip the scales at the same level as when winning Europe's most prestigious contest in record time last month.
"She has an enormous appetite. I think she's able to maintain her form because she's such a good traveller," Schiergen said.
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