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Horse racing: Equinox captures Japan Cup, 6th straight G1 race


Equinox, the world’s top-ranked horse, dominated over the home stretch to win the 43rd Japan Cup on Sunday, four lengths ahead of this year’s winner of Japan’s Triple Crown for fillies, Liberty Island.

The 4-year-old Equinox, ridden by Frenchman Christophe Lemaire, covered the 2,400 meters over turf at Tokyo Racecourse in 2 minutes, 21.8 seconds and has now tied a record by winning its last six G1 races.

Equinox, ridden by Christophe Lemaire, sprints to victory in the 43rd Japan Cup at Tokyo Racecourse on Nov. 26, 2023. (Kyodo)

“The horse is just too fast on the straight,” Lemaire said in Japanese. “He is unbelievably fast.”

Equinox, the 1.3-to-1 favorite, got off to strong start, with Lemaire happy to keep his mount third for most of the race behind Title Holder as Panthalassa set a blistering pace that saw him go into the third turn over 10 lengths in front.

“We started second from the rail with Liberty Island inside and Title Holder on my right,” Lemaire said. “Equinox got off well, and he was in his comfort zone right behind Title Holder and I was confident we could win it from that position.”

Coming out of the final turn right on Title Holder’s tail, Equinox slipped to the outside and sprinted for all he was worth, blowing past Title Holder first before leaving Panthalassa in his dust as well.

Jockey Christophe Lemaire waves to the Tokyo Racecourse crowd after winning the 43rd Japan Cup aboard Equinox on Nov. 26, 2023. (Kyodo)

“When we got into the final straight, the horse just reacted to the point that even I was surprised,” Lemaire said. “His acceleration was incredible.”

“He’s truly a super horse, smart powerful and gentle, like a pony. I think anyone could ride him.”

Three-year-old Liberty Island, ridden by Yuga Kawada, also streaked ahead and but was unable to match Equinox’s pace. Stars on Earth, a 4-year-old filly, was third, a further length back.

The win by Equinox, trained by Tetsuya Kimura, was worth 500 million yen.


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