Will Japan Reign Supreme in Irish Champion Stakes?


Japan has become the horse to watch in the closing stages of the flat season, winning his last three races on the bounce. Aidan O’Brien’s charge had been undone by the quality of his rivals on the circuit in the earlier races of the campaign. He was beaten out at The Derby after being previously underwhelming at the Dante Stakes.

However, Japan has found his form at the back end of the season and is developing into one of O’Brien’s elite horses, guided by the excellent Ryan Moore in the saddle. As a result of the bay colt’s impressive performances, the three-year-old has been installed as the leading contender in the horse racing odds for the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. O’Brien could still consider placing his charge in the St Leger Stakes, although the increase in distance would perhaps be too much for Japan to handle amid the quality of the field, including the outstanding Logician.

The three-year-old has competed against elite horses throughout the campaign, including his opening race of the season at the Dante Stakes. John Gosden’s Too Darn Hot was the overwhelming favourite for the event but he, along with Japan, was beaten out by the pace of Telecaster. Japan put forward a decent outing in fourth, but he was never in contention for the crown.

Next on the agenda for the bay colt was a trip to the Epsom Downs and The Derby. Expectations were high for several horses out of O’Brien’s yard, but not Japan at 20/1. However, he was impressive on the track and pushed his stablemate, Anthony Van Dyck, and Madhmoon down the stretch, although he did not have enough to close out the victory, placing in third in the prestigious meet.


Japan took the momentum from the contest into his next outing in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot. He was named the favourite for the race and duly delivered with a dominant performance, claiming his first victory of the campaign by finishing four-and-a-half lengths ahead ahead of his nearest rival, Bangkok. O’Brien then took his charge over the English Channel to France for the Grand Prix de Paris, where he produced another strong outing. He was considered the leading contender for the race and was on form to notch his second triumph on the bounce.

All eyes were on Japan at York to see whether he could maintain his level of excellence, facing off against quality competitors in the form of Crystal Ocean and King of Comedy in the International Stakes. Moore in the saddle guided his charge to a steady start to the contest, holding his own against the early leaders. The bay colt upped the ante down the stretch to challenge for the crown in a fierce battle with Crystal Ocean. However, he had just enough to close out the victory – the biggest of his fledgling career.

All eyes were on Japan at York to see whether he could maintain his level of excellence, facing off against quality competitors in the form of Crystal Ocean and King of Comedy in the International Stakes. Moore in the saddle guided his charge to a steady start to the contest, holding his own against the early leaders. The bay colt upped the ante down the stretch to challenge for the crown in a fierce battle with Crystal Ocean. However, he had just enough to close out the victory – the biggest of his fledgling career.
Japan now faces the prospect of having to better his performance in another duel against Crystal Ocean and potentially one of his stable-mates, Magical, at the Irish Champion Stakes. The three-year-old has been heading in the right direction throughout the season and it could be a fitting end for O’Brien’s charge to sign off with another victory, further enhancing his reputation.

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