Kyoto plays host to the G1 Tenno Sho (Spring) on Sunday, and Cheval Grand (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry {Jpn}), the lone Group 1 winner in the 17-strong field, has been duly favoured in the 3200-metre affair. Given a morning line of $ 3.80, the chestnut earned his top-level win in last November’s G1 Japan Cup in Tokyo, and was a solid third in the G1 Arima Kinen to Horse of the Year Kitasan Black (Jpn) (Black Tide {Jpn}) at Nakayama on Christmas Eve before a puzzling 13th in the Apr. 1 G1 Osaka Hai.

“I think his workload and times in training have been just right going into this long distance race,” said trainer Yasuo Tomomichi. “He’s finished second and third in this race already, and with the winner [Kitasan Black] not lining up this time, he must have a good chance, especially taking into account his record at the track. I’d hope for the ground not to come up soft.”

Second choice is $ 5.40 shot Clincher (Jpn) (Deep Sky {Jpn}), who was the G1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) bridesmaid at Kyoto in October. The 4-year-old relished the soft going of the G2 Kyoto Kinen on Feb. 11, and was third to MGSW & MG1SP Rainbow Line (Jpn) (Stay Gold {Jpn}) and GSW Satono Chronicle (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry {Jpn}) in the G2 Hanshin Daishoten on Mar. 18.

Said trainer Hiroshi Miyamoto, “I had his race jockey [Kosei Miura] ride the horse this past week, and he was impressed by the horse. His training times have been good, and he’s a horse with natural stamina. This past year he’s developed a lot. I think he’s suited to the Kyoto course, and his condition will be 100% going into the race. I think he can adapt to a fast time, but the real key is getting him to find a good rhythm over the 3,200 meters.”

Ganko (Jpn) (Nakayama Festa {Jpn}), riding a two-race winning streak, steps up to Group 1 level for the first time here. Third in the G2 Nikkei Shinshun Hai at Kyoto over 2400 meters on Jan. 14, he returned with a win in the Shorai S. there Feb. 11. The Shigeki Matsumoto trainee claimed his first group crown in the 2500-metre G2 Nikkei Sho switched to Nakayama on Mar. 24, with Chestnut Coat (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry {Jpn}) second and G1SP Tosen Basil (Jpn) (Harbinger {GB}) fifth.

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