African Gold goes wire to wire in G2 Kyoto Kinen
African Gold emulated his Dubai World Cup-winning half-brother African Story as he recorded the biggest success of his career at the age of seven when making all in the G2 Kyoto Kinen at Hanshin, Japan, on Sunday, 13 February.
Trained by Masato Nishizono, African Gold was sent to the front of the 13 runners leaving the stalls and soon established a two-length advantage under Kyosuke Kokubun.
Maria Elena and Uberleben reduced African Gold’s lead entering the final half-mile but the Godolphin runner continued to travel strongly before kicking for home turning in.
African Gold went further clear in the straight and was pushed out to score by a length and a quarter over Tagano Diamante in the 11-furlong contest, won in the previous two years by Chrono Genesis and Loves Only You.
Harry Sweeney, President of Godolphin in Japan, said: “All I can say is Wow! African Gold finished second in a G3 in December and fifth in a G2 in January, but we had no real expectation that he could win today and record his first ever Group race victory at the age of seven. Kudos to his trainer who never lost faith in the horse and who convinced us to keep him in training a year ago when we seriously considered retiring him. And it was also a great front-running ride by the jockey.
“It is also a great endorsement of the JRA racing programme where there are loads of opportunities for sound, talented horses even at the age of seven and indeed older. And credit to our staff for working hard to keep these older horses sound and happy. Last year Territorial also won his first ever Group race as a seven-year-old. Love And Pop did exactly the same but went one better by winning a further Group race at eight. We are now hoping that African Gold will emulate Love And Pop.
“It is mid-winter here and it has been particularly cold this year with a lot of snow and temperatures as low as -20˚C, so an unexpected Group win is a great fillip for all.”