Orfevre bids for revenge in Japan Cup
Updated: Friday, 23 Nov 2012 15:03
Orfevre will be aiming to avenge his last-gasp Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe defeat as he again clashes with winner Solemia in Sunday's Japan Cup in Tokyo.
The Japanese raider appeared to have the Longchamp feature won, only to hang across the track in the closing stages and let Solemia snatch the prize by a neck.
Yasutoshi Ikee's charge will have home advantage this time and will be reunited with jockey Kenichi Ikezoe after Christophe Soumillon partnered the four-year-old in his two French outings.
Ikee said: "In the very end of the Arc, his bad habit came out.
"After he crossed the finish line, he accelerated so much that the rider couldn't even shake hands with (Oliver) Peslier (Solemia's jockey).
"To think that he still had so much left just makes it all the worse.
"During the trip from France he'd lost 20kg but he quickly regained that and from outer appearances looked back in shape.
"Last week Ikezoe rode him up the hill course and, like in his last race, he moved in to the rail when he got out in front.
"There was no other problem with his workout and I think his movement was pretty good.
"I'd say he was in almost too good a shape for the Arc so he wouldn't have got back to that point in such a short time, but he has slowly put on muscle.
"The main thing is that he can be able to run balanced and straight. If he can do that, we should be able to get results.
"I hope he can run a race fitting for a horse that represents Japan."
"During the trip from France he'd lost 20kg but he quickly regained that and from outer appearances looked back in shape" - Yasutoshi Ikee, trainer of Orfevre
Solemia was something of a surprise winner of the Arc after previously finishing third in the Prix Vermeille.
Trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias told www.japanracing.jp: "I think that Orfevre is the strongest runner in this field.
"I had a very hard time beating him in the Arc and was fortunate to win.
"This time around, he has the advantage of running on home ground, while the filly has come a long way over and tired, which will make it even more difficult for her to win against him.
"This having been her first overseas trip and over long distance, she seemed to be a little bit tired on arrival and had lost a little weight.
"But she gradually recovered in four to five days and regained some weight.
"Solemia is used to softer ground and has won on this type of going, but she has also run well on firm ground, too.
"More importantly, she will find the long home stretch to her liking."
Orfevre and Solemia are drawn in stalls 17 and 14 respectively in a race that features plenty of British interest with Melbourne Cup runners Jakkalberry, Red Cadeaux and Mount Athos heading to the Far East after their Australian exertions.
The Marco Botti-trained Jakkalberry fared best of those in finishing third and the trainer's wife, Lucie, expects him to be ready for action.
She said: "The horse is fit because he had a prep-race in the Caufield Cup, and respectively in the Melbourne Cup.
"He travelled really well - our horse is fresh and fit and seems to be happy."
Luca Cumani's Mount Athos was a fast-finishing fifth at Flemington after a less-than-ideal run.
Cumani's son, Mathew, said: "He's only run just over two weeks ago, so the horse is fit and it doesn't take a lot of work to keep him on song.
"We've been happy with the way he is and he is nice and relaxed.
"If they crawled and went very slow, then it would be a question mark at a mile and a half.
"But anywhere between a mile and a half and two miles, I think the horse will be strong enough to put his best foot forward in the race."
Red Cadeaux finished eighth in Melbourne and Rebecca Dunlop, wife of trainer Ed, said: "He needs a strong pace because he finishes very well, as you saw in the Coronation Cup.
"We think the track at Tokyo will really suit him and we're hoping for him to be doing his best work at the end of the race."
Roger Varian's Sri Putra also makes the trip after finishing a distant sixth behind Frankel in the Juddmonte International on his most recent start.
Varian said: "I'm very happy with Sri Putra's physical condition and mental condition after his journey to Japan.
"He is a very mature horse now, and he takes the travelling and change of environment very comfortably.
"He has settled into the quarantine last week very easy, and settled again very quickly this week after moving to our racecourse.
"So far he has taken the trip and the journey very much in his stride.
"Myself and my team are very happy with his condition, both physically and mentally."