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Mad Cool Claims First G1 Victory in Takamatsunomiya Kinen

Piloted by Ryusei Sakai, Mad Cool pulled away while being chased by Namura Clair in the 54th Takamatsunomiya Kinen and then held on for a narrow win.



Takamatsunomiya Kinen
Mad Cool (2) closes in on a victory over Namura Clair in the 54th Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Chukyo Racecourse in Toyoake, Aichi Prefecture, on March 24, 2024. (©SANKEI)

Just missing by a nose in a runner-up finish in the Sprinters Stakes in October 2023, Mad Cool landed his first Grade 1 title in the 54th Takamatsunomiya Kinen on Sunday, March 24.

Debuting in January of his 3-year-old season in 2022, the son of Dark Angel broke his maiden in his third career start. He concluded the season with four consecutive wins. Registering his fifth victory in the listed Shunrai Stakes (Listed, 1,200 meters), the gray colt finished second by a nose to Mama Cocha in his first G1 challenge, the Sprinter Stakes (G1, 1,200 meters) and capped off his 4-year-old campaign in Hong Kong in the Hong Kong Sprint (G1, 1,200 meters) in which he was eighth. 

On Sunday, at Chukyo Racecourse in Toyoake, Aichi Prefecture, trainer Manabu Ikezoe collected his second Japan Racing Association G1 title after the 2022 Hopeful Stakes with Dura Erede. Jockey Ryusei Sakai, whose last G1 victory was with Lemon Pop in the 2023 Champions Cup, registered his fifth career JRA G1 title.

Takamatsunomiya Kinen
A close-up view of Mad Cool's narrow victory over Namura Clair. (KYODO)

How Mad Cool Triumphed in the Takamatsunomiya Kinen

Mad Cool broke sharply to come out to the front, soon joined by Victor The Winner, ridden by Derek (Ka Chun) Leung, and Win Carnelian (Kosei Miura) from the outside, and raced close to the pace while hugging the rails in second or third. 

Still keeping the inside route turning for home, the powerful gray inherited the lead as the pacesetter weakened at the uphill stretch. Mad Cool continued to pull away while chased by fast-closing Namura Clair (Suguru Hamanaka) from behind to hold off that foe by a head for his first G1 victory. 

Takamatsunomiya Kinen
Dark Angel progeny Mad Cool has six wins in 12 career races. (©SANKEI)

"I am so glad to have won this race after our narrow defeat last fall [in the Sprinters Stakes]," Sakai said. "He broke well and we were in an ideal position, right behind the pace, throughout the trip.

"The plan to stay in the inside for our attack at the stretch also worked to our advantage and he held on well to deter the chase from behind at the end."

Takamatsunomiya Kinen
Jockey Ryusei Sakai talks about the race after guiding Mad Cool to victory. (©SANKEI)

Added Sakai, "I've been riding this horse from early in his career and the connections had been eyeing this race from the beginning. But he still has room for improvement, so I look forward to his future as well."

Takamatsunomiya Kinen
The 54th running of the Takamatsunomiya Kinen. (©SANKEI)

Namura Clair Makes Spirited Attempt to Win

Second pick Namura Clair was rated in mid-pack while saving ground along the rails early. 

The Mikki Isle mare steadily advanced approaching the final turn, stayed along the rails as the field shifted out for better footing on the outside and crept closer to the eventual winner racing in front approaching the uphill stretch. She closed in on Mad Cool with the fastest finishing speed over the final three furlongs (33.2 seconds) up to the wire, just missing by a head in second. 

Victor The Winner Secures Third-Place Finish

Fifth favorite Victor The Winner was quick out of the gate, disputed the lead with Win Carnelian (Kosei Miura) close behind on his outside, dictated the pace into the stretch and struggled to find another gear going uphill. He was outrun by Mad Cool and Namura Clair in the last furlong. But third-place finisher Victor The Winner held on well to finish a good length in front of the rest of the field.

"The race went as planned with a quick jump and he got into a good position and today he was even more fresh than he was in Hong Kong," Leung said.

Leung added, "The track was soft and he fought a little bit because it was his first time racing in Japan, so it was not 100 percent for him, but he ran very well. When he was asked to go uphill in the last 350 meters, he struggled a little bit and he was one paced from there under pressure. But I am so proud of him to have run such a good race in Japan." 

Race favorite Lugal (Atsuya Nishimura) broke sharply and stayed close to the pace between rivals in fourth or fifth. But he failed to show much after shifting out, turning for home and faded to 10th.

Win Carnelian placed fourth and Lotus Land (Yasunari Iwata) was fifth.


A Look Ahead

The 2,000-meter Osaka Hai will be held on March 31 at Hanshin Racecourse.

Read the full article about the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, including details on each of the 18 entrants, on JRA News.


Author: JRA News

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