In a thrilling finish to the George Ryder (Aus-I) March 21, Japan-based Real Impact got the best of Australian Derby (Aus-I) winner Criterion, prevailing by a nose at Rosehill Gardens.
Familiar rivals Strong Return and Grand Prix Boss are among the early favorites for the $2,401,686 Mile Championship (Jpn-I) at Kyoto Nov. 18.
Orfevre, winner of Japan's Triple Crown, fell one vote short of being a unanimous choice for the Japan Racing Association's Horse of the Year title for 2011.
Real Impact became the first 3-year-old to win the Yasuda Kinen (Jpn-I), the final leg of the Asian Mile Challenge, when he upset the brilliant filly Apapane in the $2.4 million race at Tokyo Racecourse June 5.
Twelve hours after the historic 1-2 finish by Japanese horses Victoire Pisa and Transcend in the Dubai World Cup defending champion Kinshasa no Kiseki captured the Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Hanshin Racecourse March 27.
Australian jockey Craig Williams capped his first week in Japan in style when he guided Jaguar Mail to a three-quarter-length win in the $3.1 million Tenno Sho (Spring) (Jpn-I), May 2 at Kyoto Racecourse.
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