The 3200 metre Tenno Sho (Spring), or ‘Emperor’s Prize’, is the JRA's longest Group 1 event and has been won by some of Japan's biggest equine stars, including Mayano Top Gun, T M Opera O (twice), Kitasan Black (twice) and the great Deep Impact.
Kitasan Black set a world record for 3,200 metres in the 2017 Tenno Sho (Spring). (Photo by JRA)
Stayers are respected in Japan: proper stayers, those absolute warriors of the breed that do their racing around two miles or so. One of the country’s most prestigious races is the Tenno Sho (Spring), or ‘Emperor’s Prize’, over 3200m, which is the longest Group 1 contest staged in Japan. Its companion race, the Tenno Sho (Autumn), is a 2000m affair.
The spring contest is so prestigious that the great Deep Impact stepped up to the distance and succeeded in 2006, en route to a Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe campaign. Kyoto has been its home since the first staging of the race in 1938 but it was moved to Hanshin temporarily for the 2021 and 2022 editions due to redevelopment work at Kyoto.
Featured winner: Kitasan Black
Only six horses have managed to win both the Spring and Autumn versions of the Tenno Sho and Kitasan Black added his Autumn win to two victories in the Spring edition.
The Hisashi Shimizu-trained galloper must rank as one of the best stayers in Japan’s history, with a record of seven Group 1 wins – ranging in distance from 2000 metres to 3200 metres – among his 12 career successes from 20 starts. Kitasan Black earned his Classic stripes with a win in the 2015 G1 Kikuka Sho as a three-year-old and over the following two seasons he added a Japan Cup, an Osaka Hai, his Tenno Sho wins and a career-capping Arima Kinen to his impressive haul, which was complemented by three Group 2 wins and four Group 1 placings.
Bred by Yanagawa Bokujo, Kitasan Black raced in the colours of Ono Shoji and retired to Shadai Stallion Station where he is making his name as top-class sire.