David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Paris or Tokyo? Rausing has fall-back option for York heroine Alpinista

Alpinista continued her win streak in the Yorkshire Oaks to set up a career finale in Paris, but Tokyo is on standby.

Kirsten Rausing is set to test Alpinista against Japanese opposition this autumn, whether that be via Plan A at Longchamp in October or Plan B at Tokyo in November.

The prominent owner-breeder made plain that the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the primary goal for Alpinista – and likely her final race – after the grey daughter of Frankel exhibited pluck and quality in equal parts to win the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks under Luke Morris at York on Thursday. 

But the Japan Cup is still being factored into preparations, as a ‘just in case’ option.  

“The JRA has invited Alpinista to the Japan Cup and certainly we wish to make all the preparations to go to Japan. We cannot be certain to get there, though, because it all rather depends if we go to Paris: if all goes well in Paris, I shall say ‘Thank you’ and that will be it,” said Rausing after the five-year-old had defeated the Aidan O’Brien-trained Oaks winner Tuesday by a length. 

The JRA has invited Alpinista to the Japan Cup and certainly we wish to make all the preparations to go to Japan.

Sir Mark Prescott, who has meticulously trained the late-blooming Alpinista to win five Group 1 races in succession, is keen to have a back-up given that the five-year-old is likely to be in one of her owner’s Lanwades Stud paddocks by next spring.  

“She loves firm ground, that’s why we’re looking at the Japan Cup as the back-up. I suppose, if it became a bog or if something went wrong in Paris, we’ve got that to fall back on because I don’t imagine I’ll be lucky enough to have it next year,” he told the Report.

“There wouldn’t be a more travelled mare in Europe so she should do (the travel) fine if it came to that.”

Alpinista could face a handful of likely Japanese raiders at Longchamp, headed by the star four-year-old Titleholder and this year’s Tokyo Yushun hero Do Deuce, who is scheduled to warm up in the Prix Niel at the Paris track in early September.


Japan's Arc contender Titleholder storms to a decisive victory in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin. (Photo by Shuhei Okada)

Rausing and Prescott are hoping their own Arc plan plays out to a glorious conclusion, unlike their one previous Japan Cup experience 23 years ago.

“We sent Alborada over there for the Japan Cup and she had a small fracture while she was out there,” Prescott recalled. “The legend goes that I rang Miss Rausing and she said to me she had her hat on and was about to leave (for the airport); I said, ‘The filly’s lame and they won’t let me bone scan’. Her response was, ‘This is suboptimal news’. That was all she said. So, I hope there’s no suboptimal news this time.

“We started to work her out there and she was lame pretty quickly. If they would have let us scan, we’d have seen the crack had been there since she was a foal. But an animal of that ability and value, you just can’t risk it.”  

Alborada was a brilliant two-time winner of the Group 1 Champion Stakes and a granddaughter of Rausing’s exceptional producer Alruccaba. Alpinista is a close relative, being a granddaughter of Alborada’s Group 1-winning sister Albanova.  

Owner Kirsten Rausing was on hand to witness Alpinista's Oaks triumph. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

George Duffield brings Alborada home to land the 1999 Champion Stakes at Newmarket. (Photo by Julian Herbert/Allsport via Getty Images)

Rausing bought Alruccaba from the Aga Khan, as a two-year-old, 37 years ago for ’19 grand’.

“The family were all ‘A’ ‘L’ names during the Aga’s time, so I thought I’d continue that. Mine are, hopefully, with a bit of meaning: Alpinista is an Alpine climber and she has certainly scaled the heights, hasn’t she? Alborada means dawn but it is also the name Dawn in Spanish.”

Rausing has ‘too many’ mares, she says, at her Lanwades operation outside Newmarket where she stands four stallions, including the Prix du Jockey Club winner Study Of Man, who has, himself, a Japanese heritage.  

“It is an enormous expense to send a horse to Japan – not for the Japan Cup, of course, because they invite us – to send a mare to Japan for breeding, it’s prohibitively expensive. So, this is why I have Study Of Man at Lanwades,” she said.

“He is, of course, the only son of Japanese super sire Deep Impact at stud in Britain, so I’m ahead of the game there.”

And she is hoping Alpinista will be ahead of the field when she heads to Longchamp – or Tokyo – for her career finale.




    Subscribe now & get exclusive weekly content from Asian Racing Report direct to your inbox

      Expert ratings, tips & analysis for Hong Kong racing