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A resolute Japan wins Juddmonte Grand Prix

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Irish raider Japan (Galileo) has somehow won its first grand slam tournament on Sunday, July 14 at ParisLongchamp in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (Gr1), keeping his French challenger Slalom (Intello) at half a length to the end. Godolphin’s Jalmoud (New Approach) did a good job and completed the podium at ¾ of a length.

Third in the Epsom Derby after a troubled preparation, then an easy winner of the King Edward VII Stakes (Gr2) at Royal Ascot, Aidan O’Brien’s trainee had to dig deeper at ParisLongchamp, but he nevertheless established his leadership among the European foals of 2016 over 1m4f.

Japan is entered in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and his connections are seriously considering that option.

Aidan O’Brien, the winning trainer, said: “We are very happy with the colt. The pace wasn’t overly taxing and he found himself in front quite soon in the straight. Granted this scenario, he did just what he needed to do. At Royal Ascot the pace was a lot stiffer. The idea is now to give him a break. A return trip [to Paris Longchamp] is on the cards for one of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe trials. On the basis of how he runs, we will then decide to route him to either the Arc or the Irish Champion Stakes.”

It was a fourth Grand Prix winner for Aidan O’Brien since Scorpion in 2005.

Japan belongs to the main associates of the Irish stud Coolmore, namely Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier and Michael Tabor. He was bred in Britain by Newsells Park Stud, who sold him as a yearling for £1.3m to Michael-Vincent Magnier, son of John and Sue Magnier, née O’Brien.

Japan is out of the Listed-winner Shastye (Danehill), who gave two Group winners before him. She is herself from a mare who made a career in France, Saganeca (Sagace). She won the Prix de Royallieu Price (Gr2) for trainer Antonio Spanu – she beat that day the Wertheimers’ Brooklyn’s Dance, future dam of the Arc winner Solemia, no less! -, and gave the Arc winner Sagamix but also Sagacity and Sage et Jolie, dam of Sageburg.

Japan’s owners did not miss the colt’s own brother, bought for £3m a year later at Tattersalls. One can compare this to the last of Saganeca’s offspring gone on sale, her 13-year-old daughter Avec Amour (Sadler’s Wells), sold only €8,000 in foal to Australian sireElvstroem last December at Arqana to German agent Axel Donnerstag!