Bren O’Brien



Record-breaking Titleholder powers to Takarazuka Kinen glory

Titleholder has broken the Hanshin 2200-metre track record and captured the third Group 1 of his career with an authoritative success in the Takarazuka Kinen.

The son of Duramente was coming back 1000 metres off his seven-length win in the G1 Tenno Sho (Spring) but the drop in distance proved no hindrance as he settled and tracked the leader Panthalassa throughout.

The four-year-old, ridden by Kazuo Yokoyama, swept upon the lead soon after straightening and gave a strong kick for home. Hishi Iguazu had been given an excellent ride by Damian Lane through along the rail and set out after Titleholder inside the final 200-metre mark but could only reduce the margin to two lengths on the line.

In third place, another two lengths adrift, was Daring Tact, the Japanese Fillies’ Triple Crown winner of 2020, who had made a wide swooping run and just tipped out Deep Bond, who finished fourth, for a top three spot.

Race favourite Efforia raced midfield throughout but couldn’t get the run when needed and would finish sixth, just behind rank outsider Meiner Fanrong.

Thanks largely to the frantic pace set by Panthalassa, the last-start Dubai Turf winner, who led by as many as five lengths midway through the race and would fade to finish eighth, Titleholder was able to break the 11-year-old track record set by Earnestly in the 2011 edition of the Takarazuka Kinen. He ran 2:09.7 for the 2200 metres.

It is another great success for trainer Toru Kurita, who has also guided Titleholder to wins in the Kikuka Sho and the Tenno Sho (Spring). He has now won six of his 12 starts.

“I’ve been told by the owner that the colt will go to ‘the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe if he wins’ so we’re planning to send him straight to France with Kazuo,” Kurita said.

Kazuo Yokoyama has now combined for victory with Titleholder at his last three starts, having assumed the ride from his younger brother Takeshi after last year’s Kikuka Sho. He emulates his father Norihiro, who won this race on Gold Ship in 2011.

“This was my fourth race with Titleholder and I knew how the colt could run in good rhythm,” he said.

“The pace was fast but I wasn’t concerned because he still had enough power left at the straight. He’s still in the process of maturing and I think he’ll get better going forward.”

It was also an immensely popular win among the huge crowd at Hanshin and across Japan. Titleholder earned the most votes from the public in the poll to get into the race. He secured 91,394 of the 2,232,089 total votes submitted.


The surging Titleholder was the 'people's pick' in the Takarazuka Kinen. (Photo by JRA).

Titleholder was bred by Okada Stud and was purchased by Hiroshi Yamada for 21.6 million yen at the 2018 JRHA Select Foal Sale. He has now won just under 800 million yen in prizemoney.

His dam Mowen, a daughter of Motivator, was bred in Great Britain, but won five races in Japan.

A half-sister to stakes winners Zato and Krispy Knight, she hasn’t foaled since producing Titleholder.

He has become a first-crop flag bearer for his late sire Duramente, who last month had his daughter Stars On Earth claim the G1 Yushun Himba.



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