Favored Company didn't disappoint his Japanese fans when he posted a convincing 1 1/4-length win in the $2.3 million Mile Championship Stakes (Jpn-I) under a light rain at Kyoto Race Course Nov. 22.
Making his final start before heading to stud in the prestigious international event, the 8-year-old posted his third consecutive graded stakes victory. The Hidetaka Otonashi-trained Company won the Tenno Sho Autumn (Jpn-I) at Tokyo in his previous start Nov. 1.
In defeating a field that included nine foreign-trained horses among the 18 that went to the post in the Mile Championship, Company became the oldest to win a Japanese grade I on the flat.
Jockey Norihiro Yokoyama, who had won the race twice in the past, settled the 2-1 favorite perfectly midfield on the rails in the early stages of the race. Meiner Falke went to the lead after the gates opened, with Captain Thule not far behind him. Christophe Soumillon had Hikaru Ozora just behind the two leaders, while Alan Munro and Olivier Peslier had their respective mounts -- Eva's Request and Sahpresa handily placed through the first half of the race.
When the leaders quickened approaching the final turn, the two international challengers rallied, but the leaders were still traveling well. Yokoyama pushed Company into the clear on the inside part of the track and they challenged.
Meiner Falke battled on well in the closing stages while Captain Thule shifted to the middle of the track. Company drove through the gap while Peslier was slowly but surely closing in with Sahpresa. In the final 100 meters, Company drew level to Meiner Falke before pulling free in the last strides. Meiner Falke held on for second, a neck in front of the French filly Sahpresa, who finished a nose better than the tiring Captain Thule.
Company was timed in 1:33.2 over firm going. The Kyoto crowd was announced as 40,873.
By Miracle Admire (out of the Northern Taste mare Brilliant Very), Hideko Kondo's homebred Company retires with a record of 12-4-1 in 35 starts and two grade I wins.