Stellenbosch Gunning For Classic Double In Yushun Himba

Stellenbosch | Horsephotos

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Katsumi Yoshida's Stellenbosch (Jpn) (Epiphaneia {Jpn}) is aiming to add a second Classic to her resume in Sunday's G1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks).

Facing off against 17 other fillies, the daughter of the three-time winner Bloukrans (Jpn) (Rulership {Jpn}) will leave from gate seven under Keita Tosaki. She defeated her G1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies conqueress Ascoli Piceno (Jpn) (Daiwa Major {Jpn}) and Listed Elfin S. heroine Light Back (Jpn) (Kizuna {Jpn}) in the G1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) over 1600 metres back in April. If she prevails on Sunday, Stellenbosch would then be poised to become the eighth Japanese Fillies' Triple Crown winner and second in consecutive years after Liberty Island (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn})'s heroics in 2023.

Trainer Sakae Kunieda said, “She didn't get a good position from the start last time, but the jockey did a great job to get her into the race, and she finished well to win with a bit in hand. She's had her usual break at Northern Farm Tenei, and she's returned to the stable refreshed. She weighed a little less for her last race, but the warmer weather is the reason for that.”

Fourth in the Oka Sho after closing from last to miss by less than 1 1/4 lengths for all the glory, G2 Tulip Sho winner Sweep Feet (Jpn) (Suave Richard {Jpn}) returns for another crack at Stellenbosch. Trainer Yasushi Shono said, “She went to the farm after her last race, and returned to the stable at the end of April. She recovered quickly from her last run, and she was seen at her best in the Tulip Sho. This next race is at Tokyo, and she'll have to transport over for it, so she won't need such strong work in training. We'll just monitor her condition as we see things.”

A filly trying Group 1 waters for the first time is last out G2 Sankei Sports Sho Flora S. heroine Admire Belle (Jpn) (Suave Richard {Jpn}), who was an even length in front of Lavanda (Jpn) (Silver State {Jpn}) in that 2000-metre affair on Apr. 21.

“The race worked out perfectly for her last time, by getting a good position in behind the leaders and biding her time,” said trainer Yukihiro Kato of the Junko Kondo colourbearer. “She found a good rhythm, and completed the first five furlongs in about 60 seconds, and was then able to finish off strongly. On that run, the Oaks looks good for her.”

Sunday Racing's pair of Cervinia (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) and Queen's Walk (Jpn) (Kizuna {Jpn}) are both Group 3 winners that ran unplaced in the Japanese 1000 Guineas and are looking for redemption.

Assistant trainer Taku Fukunaga said of Queen's Walk, “With a tightly packed field in the Oka Sho, it was difficult for her to find a good rhythm. It didn't matter so much about the final result, and since her break at Northern Farm Shigaraki, she's returned to the stable, where we have been tuning her up for this next race. Hopefully, she'll be able to show her best this time.”

The G3 Flower Cup one-two Mi Anhelo (Jpn) (Duramente {Jpn}) and Hohelied (Jpn) (Rulership {Jpn}) are also in the line up and leave from gates one and eight, respectively.

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