Jaguar Mail wins Japan's most prestigious and longest flat race, the $3.1 million Tenno Sho at Kyoto Racecourse.

Jaguar Mail wins Japan's most prestigious and longest flat race, the $3.1 million Tenno Sho at Kyoto Racecourse.

Kate Hunter

Aussie Rider Guides Jaguar Mail to Japan Win

Craig Williams caps first week on foreign soil with victory in Tenno Sho (Spring).

(from Japanese Racing Association report)

Australian jockey Craig Williams capped his first week in Japan in style when he guided Jaguar Mail to a three-quarter-length win of Japan’s most prestigious and longest flat race, the $3.1 million Tenno Sho (Spring) (Jpn-I), May 2 at Kyoto Racecourse.

Meiner Kitz and Meisho Dontaku finished second and third, respectively, in the race also known as the Emperor's Cup.

Six-year-old Jaguar Mail, the second choice in the field of 18, clocked 3:15.7 over the 3,200 meters (about two miles) on firm turf. Favored Forgettable, unable to make up for a slow break, finished sixth at odds of 5-2.

Mikki Petra led the Tenno Sho field at a strong pace. Meiner Kitz, last year's winner, followed Mikki Petra in second position, with Jaguar Mail holding steady mid-field. The pace slowed after the first 1,600 meters.

No doubt feeling the drop in pace, the 32-year-old Williams eased Jaguar Mail slowly forward in the backstretch of the second lap. With 800 meters to go, the son of Jungle Pocket launched his bid, sweeping around the final bend with ease to get within striking distance of the now leading Meiner Kitz at the top of the stretch. The eventual winner sliced the distance between himself Meiner Kitz through the drive and passed his rival 50 meters short of the wire.

Meiner Kitz, was five lengths clear of 113-1 shot Meisho Dontaku, who claimed third place over Namura Crescent.

Williams, on a short-term Japanese license for the month of May, was riding the Noriyuki Hori-trained Jaguar Mail for the first time.

“I did ride him for Wednesday morning's work, however,” he said following the Tenno Sho. “I felt his power and we made a good connection.”

Williams said that he had also sought the advice of Michael Kinane for insights into the horse’s style. Kinane had ridden Jaguar Mail in the 2008 Hong Kong Vase (HK-I).

Jaguar Mail’s last win was nine starts ago in October of 2008. Since then he had seen a number of jockey changes, including three foreign riders -- Christophe Soumillon, Christophe Lemaire and Kinane. But none were able to guide him to the winner’s circle.

His two bids for the Hong Kong Vase also came up short. In 2008, Kinane rode him to a third-place finish in the Vase. Last year, Soumillon made fourth place. Jaguar Mail’s last outing in the Feb. 20 Kyoto Kinen (Jpn-II) ended in a second-place finish under Lemaire.

This was the first graded win for Jaguar Mail, who also gave Hori, 42, his first triumph in the Tenno Sho (Spring) and second grade I win this year after Kinshasa no Kiseki’s victory in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen. Jaguar Mail has won six of 17 races lifetime.

Kazumi Yoshida owns the bay horse, who was bred by Aioi Farm. Jaguar Mail is out of the Sunday Silence mare Haya Beni Komachi.