Cervinia Claims Second Jewel of Japanese Triple Tiara

Cervinia Horsephotos

In a gutsy bounce back to form after only managing 13th place in the G1 Oka Sho, Cervinia (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) found redemption in the G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) on Sunday at Tokyo Racecourse when she ran down said Japanese 1,000 Guineas winner Stellenbosch (Jpn) (Epiphaneia {Jpn}).

Having made her debut in June of her juvenile season, Cervinia graduated from the maiden condition at second-asking in August 2023 and claimed her first Group victory two months later in the G3 Artemis S. Slated for the year-end championship-making G1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies after qualifying through her Artemis victory, she was withdrawn after developing what was described as a 'minor problem in her hind leg'. She made her seasonal bow in the Oka Sho on Apr. 7.

Leaving the gate well and in no rush early, Cervinia settled comfortably among cover inside the back flight of runners as Windstille (Jpn) (Maurice {Jpn}) and Shonan Manuela (Jpn) (Just a Way {Jpn}) took up the mantle of setting the pace. By the 1800 metre marker, the leading pair had built up a five length advantage and were trying to widen their margin as Windstille took over coming up the back part of the course. The trailing pack was closing ranks as the final bend approached and by the 600 metre mark, positions were dynamically changing when the last of the early pacesetters threw out a white flag, and was inhaled by her rivals.

Cervinia in the meanwhile had inched closer to the front and was sent wide entering the home straight with runners fanning out deep into the course. Stellenbosch stuck to the inner lanes and had a path open up in front of her for clear sailing, providing her a narrow lead. With the wire rapidly approaching, Cervinia had lengths to make up on the favorite, but was closing fast, and produced enough in the final strides to deny Stellenbosch by a half-length. Light Back (Jpn) (Kizuna {Jpn}) too closed from the rear of the field, 15th at one point, to claim the last of the trifecta positions.

“I'm back,” said jockey Christophe Lemaire in a post-race interview. It was his fourth victory in the contest following Soul Stirring (Jpn) in 2017, Almond Eye (Jpn) in 2018, and Stars on Earth (Jpn) in 2022; the most by a currently active jockey. Lemaire returned to action in early May after being hospitalized from a fall on Dubai World Cup night.

“It's a wonderful feeling. The filly didn't do well in the Oka Sho but I know how high her potential is and was very confident today. I tried not to let her make an early bid–let her find her stride after turning into the straight–and she just stretched beautifully from there.”


Pedigree Notes

It's a family affair in the G1 Yushun Himba for Cervinia's female line as her dam Cecchino (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn}) was herself a runner-up in 2016. For those wondering, Christophe Lemaire finished 10th in that edition aboard Angel Face (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn}) before his first victory the year following. The Oaks was Cecchino's last race before a two-year hiatus, one from which she returned not quite the same filly she left.

Retired to a broodmare career, the redemption arc completed for both mother and daughter here, but Cervinia is not her only accomplished offspring. The mare also claims G3 Niigata Kinen victor Nocking Point (Jpn) (Maurice {Jpn}) to her tally from two to the races. Her third on the ground is a now 2-year-old named Arlecchino (Jpn) (Bricks and Mortar), who has not started yet, and she's since produced a yearling colt by Epiphaneia (Jpn). Cecchino was bred to Efforia (Jpn) for this season.

Beneath the second dam Happy Path (Jpn) (Sunday SIlence), a multimillionaire racehorse in her own right, the Group 1 performances further dot the catalogue page as Cecchino's full-brother Codino (Jpn) ran second in the G1 Asahi Hai Futurity S. and third in the G1 Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2,000 Guineas) in addition to being a multiple Group winner. Half-sister Pastophoria (Jpn) (Symboli Kris S) produced last year's G2 Sankei Sports Hai Hanshin Himba S. runner-up Sublime Anthem (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}), who made a return appearance in the contest last month to run ninth.

This is the immediate family of Japanese champion older mare Shinko Lovely (Caerleon).

Sunday, Tokyo, Japan
YUSHUN HIMBA (JAPANESE OAKS)-G1, ¥325,190,000, Tokyo, 5-19, 3yo, f, 2400mT, 2:24.00, fm.
1–CERVINIA (JPN), 121, f, 3, by Harbinger (GB)
           1st Dam: Cecchino (Jpn) (GSW & G1SP-Jpn, $1,143,354), by King Kamehameha (Jpn)
           2nd Dam: Happy Path (Jpn), by Sunday Silence
           3rd Dam: Happy Trails (Ire), by Posse
1ST GROUP 1 WIN. O-Sunday Racing; B-Northern Farm; T-Tetsuya Kimura; J-Christophe Lemaire; ¥177,433,000. Lifetime Record: 5-3-1-0, ¥215,190,000. *Half to Nocking Point (Jpn) (Maurice {Jpn}), GSW-Jpn, $780,252. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Stellenbosch (Jpn), 121, f, 3, Epiphaneia (Jpn)–Bloukrans (Jpn), by Rulership (Jpn). O-Katsumi Yoshida; B-Northern Farm; ¥67,838,000.
3–Light Back (Jpn), 121, f, 3, Kizuna (Jpn)–In The Spotlight (Ire), by Exceed And Excel (Aus). (¥242,000,000 Ylg '22 HOKJUL). O-Kazuhiro Masuda; B-Lake Villa Farm; ¥41,919,000.
Margins: HF, 3/4, NK; Odds: 3.60, 1.30, 6.90.
Also ran: Queen's Walk (Jpn), Lance of Queen (Jpn), Sweep Feet (Jpn), Sunset View (Jpn), Ethelfleda (Jpn), Admire Belle (Jpn), Hohelied (Jpn), Lavenda (Jpn), Koganeno Sora (Jpn), Safira (Jpn), Mi Anelo (Jpn), Pareja (Jpn), Tagano Elpida (Jpn), Shonan Manuela (Jpn), Windstille (Jpn). Click for the JRA chart & video.

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