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Frankel may not be boss

Given the lengths to which most people would go to shelter their horses from the searing talent of Frankel, it seems quixotic to fly one from the other side of the world in order to take him on.

But there is another more promising paradox in the participation of Grand Prix Boss in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday.

Japan may still be one of the Turf's more insular nations — most races remain closed to overseas runners and Sheikh Mohammed had to wait years before being permitted to invest — but over the past couple of decades the country has shown increasing adventure on the international stage.

In turn, punters have learned that the best Japanese horses warrant more respect than their parochial instincts have tended to allow.

Last October, 11 years after El Condor Pasa ran the mighty Montjeu so close in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, his trainer and jockey lost out by just a head to Workforce with a 26-1 shot, Nakayama Festa, in the same race.

Then, days after their homeland was stricken by natural disaster, Victoire Pisa rallied the Japanese industry by taking the Dubai World Cup in March.

Mirco Demuro, the Italian who produced such a splendid ride that night, will also be in the saddle when Grand Prix Boss goes on his intrepid mission next week.

His team are hoping to introduce a proper spirit of competition to a race being treated as little more than a lap of honour by the bookmakers, with Frankel at odds as short as 1-4, while Grand Prix Boss can be backed at 16-1.

For all their regard for the favourite, those supervising the raider's preparation have hardly sent him all this way in meek obeisance.

Koji Kubo, assistant trainer to Yoshito Yahagi, said: “Frankel is a superstar. Even in Japan everyone knows how good he is. But we're very excited by the chance of taking him on.

“We believe we've brought the right horse. He's the best miler in Japan. It's our best horse against yours.

“It's a long way to come here. The trip took over a day. But he was eating and drinking well throughout, and has settled well into his new environment in Newmarket, training just as we'd hope.”

Japan's champion juvenile last year, Grand Prix Boss last month showed striking acceleration to beat 17 rivals for a Group One prize in Tokyo.

That performance came within days of the death of his sire, and confirmed his owner's ambition to come to Ascot.

Racing manager Keita Tanaka explained: “Sakura Bakushin O was one of our top sprint sires over the past few years. With his death, our horse has an important goal as a stallion. The prestige of this meeting could raise his value for the future.”

Tanaka was in awe at how Frankel barrelled clear in the 2,000 Guineas.

“It was amazing. But it's a different race, a different day. He's amazing, but we've brought a champion too, so we have a chance,” he said.

“If we thought Frankel unbeatable, we wouldn't be here.”

Belfast Telegraph


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