Namur Razor Sharp For Victoria Mile

Namur winning the Mile Championship | Japan Racing Association


The in-form Namur (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) faces only 14 foes in the G1 Victoria Mile at Tokyo on Sunday, a “Win And You're In” qualifier for the GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Del Mar in November.

There won't be any safety nets for her rivals either, as the Carrot Farm runner has been extremely consistent of late, taking last October's G2 Fuji S. over her pet distance before showing her heels in open company in Kyoto's G1 Mile Championship a month later. A solid third to impressive yardstick Golden Sixty (Aus) (Medaglia d'Oro) in the G1 Hong Kong Mile during the Hong Kong International Races in December, the now-5-year-old was only a desperate bob behind Facteur Cheval (Ire) (Ribchester {Ire}) when second in the G1 Dubai Turf over 1800 metres at Meydan on Mar. 30.

Trainer Tomokazu Takano said, “Finishing second in the Dubai Turf was frustrating, but the race itself reminded me of her high potential and sense of presence. Her performance left no room for complaint whatsoever. I could feel from early on that this horse had a lot to offer, and everything has happened as I'd anticipated–the way she gains strength, the good condition when she goes into a race, thinking that if she would run at her own rhythm, she would be highly competitive in a Group 1.

“After returning to Japan and going through quarantine, she really had only the shortest number of days permitted (10) to train at the training center. I think she'll go to the gate in good shape.”

The progressive Masked Diva (Jpn) (Rulership {Jpn}) is second choice in the markets so far, behind her rival, but has been knocking on the door of top company. A 4-year-old Shadai Race Horse representative, the filly won a Group 2 last September, before running superfilly Liberty Island (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn}) to a length in the G1 Shuka Sho, as that distaff luminary completed the Japanese Triple Tiara. Unplaced in the G3 Tokyo Shimbun Hai in February, Masked Diva was back in the winner's circle after bulling her way through a tight spot in the G2 Hanshin Himba S. and fending off the menacing late charge of 2023 G1 NHK Mile Cup second Umbrail (Jpn) (Lord Kanaloa {Jpn}) with Moryana (Jpn) (Epiphaneia {Jpn}) third in early April.

Trainer Yasuyuki Tsujino said, “From the start of this year, she has continued to mature. She's well filled out, looking sharp and I think she's very near to her peak condition. Being a Group 1, the pace and the way the race unfolds is going to make for some tight running. I think it would be ideal if the race were to be just like her last one. It all comes down to whether she can break sharply.”

The other Group 1 winner in the field is Stunning Rose (Jpn) (King Kamehameha {Jpn}), who took the 2022 edition of the Shuka Sho, but has been winless since. However, the Sunday Racing runner ran eighth in the G1 Osaka Hai on Mar. 31 versus males and was not beaten far.

“It [the Osaka Hai] wasn't a big loss and I do think she showed her ability,” said Takano, who also trains Namur. “Last week, the jockey rode work and the emphasis was on the last furlong. With her last race as a sharpener, she showed improvement and is looking good physically and mentally. She should show ample improvement. I can't say a mile suits her best, but I think she will do well at the wide-open Tokyo venue and this time it's up against fillies and mares only. If she carries herself well-balanced and runs at her own rhythm, she should do fine.”

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