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Kikuka Sho G1 Guide

The closest thing horse racing has to finding the Holy Grail is winning a Triple Crown but in Japan the coveted feat of winning the three senior Classics has already been achieved three times this century.

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Distance: 3,000 metres
Venue: Kyoto (Hanshin in 2021 & 2022)
Prize money: ¥325,000,000

Japan’s Triple Crown starts with the Satsuki Sho in April, rolls into the Tokyo Yushun in late May and concludes in October with the stamina-testing final leg, the Kikuka Sho.

Eight horses in total have won Japan’s Triple Crown and Deep Impact’s Kikuka Sho win in 2005 sealed the first Triple Crown this century. Orfevre followed the great one’s example six years later and Deep Impact’s brilliant son Contrail proved to a be a chip off the old block in 2020. The Kikuka Sho was first run in 1938 at its home venue Kyoto. The race was moved to Hanshin in 2021 and 2022 due to Kyoto’s renovation.

Featured winner: Contrail

Contrail was being feted as the best thing since Deep Impact when he exited the 2020 Kikuka Sho with a perfect streak of seven wins and a Triple Crown to boot, just like his peerless sire.

The comparison between father and son held firm when Contrail was beaten into second behind Almond Eye in the Japan Cup; after all, Deep Impact had lost his unbeaten tag at his eighth start, too, when second to Heart’s Cry in the 2005 Arima Kinen. But whereas Deep Impact then won five of his six remaining races to seal his iconic status, Contrail’s bubble deflated first-up in May 2021 when he placed third on testing ground in the Osaka Hai.

Rested until the Tenno Sho Autumn, he returned with a top-class second-place behind the three-year-old champion, Efforia. That performance brought Contrail up to his peak and he delivered a dominant victory in the Japan Cup, his last race before retiring to Shadai Stallion Station with a record of eight wins from 11 starts.       

Past winners

YearWinnerJockeyTrainerOwnerTime
2021TitleholderTakeshi YokoyamaToru KuritaHiroshi Yamada3:04.6
2020ContrailYuichi FukunagaYoshito YahagiShinji Maeda3:05.5
2019World PremiereYutaka TakeYasuo TomomichiRyoichi Otsuka3:06.0
2018FierementChristophe LemaireTakahisa TezukaSunday Racing3:06.1
2017KisekiMirco DemuroKatsuhiko SumiiTatsue Ishikawa3:18.9
2016Satono DiamondChristophe LemaireYasutoshi IkeeHajime Satomi3:03.3
2015Kitasan BlackHiroshi KitamuraHisashi ShimizuOno Shoji3:03.9
2014Toho JackalManabu SakaiKiyoshi TaniToho Bussan Co Ltd3:01.0
2013EpiphaneiaYuichi FukunagaKatsuhiko SumiiU Carrot Farm3:05.2
2012Gold ShipHiroyuki UchidaNaosuke SugaiEiichi Kobayshi3:02.9
2011OrfevreKen-ichi IkezoeYasutoshi IkeeSunday Racing3:02.8
2010Big WeekYuga KawadaHiroyuki NagahamaYuzo Tanimizu3:06.1
2009Three RollsSuguru HamanakaKohei TakeNagai Shoji Co3:03.5
2008Oken Bruce LeeHiroyuki UchidaHidetaka OtonashiAkira Fukui3:05.7
2007Asakusa KingsHirofumi ShiiRyuji OkuboKeiko Tahara3:05.1
2006Song Of WindKoshiro TakeHidekazu AsamiShadai Racehorse Co.3:02.7
2005Deep ImpactYutaka TakeYasuo IkeeKaneko Makoto Holdings Co.3:04.6
2004Delta BluesYasunari IwataKatsuhiko SumiiSunday Racing3:04.8
2003That's The PlentyKatsumi AndoKojiro HashiguchiShadai Racehorse Co.3:04.8
2002Hishi MiracleKoichi TsunodaMasaru SayamaMasaichiro Abe3:05.9
2001Manhattan CafeMasayoshi EbinaFutoshi KojimaKiyoshi Nishikawa3:07.2
2000Air ShakurYutaka TakeHideyuki MoriLucky Field Co.3:04.7
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