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Homan’s JRA horses to follow – July 19

A dual-surface unicorn is primed for a clash against his famous relative Sodashi next month after an impressive Group Three win.

Hayayakko (R11 G3 Hakodate Kinen, 2000m, Hakodate, July 17)

It might seem strange to choose a six-year-old as a horse to follow but Hayayakko’s first stakes win on turf, and first victory on the surface since his two-year-old maiden, opens up new options for trainer Sakae Kunieda. 

Hayayakko is another white horse from the family of wildly popular Sodashi but finished the race looking grey after racing in the rain on a heavy track, and is now primed for a start against his relative in next month’s Group Three Sapporo Kinen (August 21). 

The extra give in the ground might have helped Hayayakko to his first win in more than a year although performances on turf this year had been encouraging, particularly a fifth behind Titleholder in the Group Two Nikkei Sho in March. 

“He jumps out well and I stayed in the best position at the beginning of race,” said jockey Suguru Hamanaka. “His response was good in the last 600 metres. He got challenged but he kept the lead at the end.” 

La Ruelle (R9, Kokura, Class 1 2000m, July 16)

This was La Ruelle’s first time stepping up to 2000m after Yoshita Yahagi tested his prospect in a couple of Graded races over a mile in the spring. It may seem surprising that Yahagi had held the filly back in trip given that she is the half sister to this year’s Dubai Gold Cup winner Stay Foolish, but the patience appears to have paid off.  

It was a classic Kokura front-running ride from Ryusei Sakai but that doesn’t take away from the way La Ruelle took care of business. Sakai took La Ruelle straight to the front and was able to rate the filly as she showed a great ability to relax at a high cruising speed through the middle stages and then kick away at the top of the short straight. 

“Although she got challenged near the post, she still won without any risk,” he said. “I think she can perform well in higher class.” 

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