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Kyoto return for African Gold


African Gold (Masato Nishizono/Filip Minarik) makes his four-year-old return in the G2 Nikkei Shinshun Hai, a 12-furlong turf handicap, at Kyoto, Japan, on Sunday, 13 January.

The Stay Gold colt captured a maiden over the same course and distance in April before going on to gain decisive victories in an 11-furlong allowance race at Chukyo in July and a Hanshin handicap over a mile and a half in October.

He drops down in class and trip after fading to 12th in the G1 Kikuka Sho, the Japanese St Leger, over a mile and seven furlongs at Kyoto on 21 October. 

African Gold, drawn four and allotted 52kg, lines up against 15 others including Glory Vase, who was fifth in the Kikuka Sho, G2 Copa Republica Argentina runner-up Muito Obrigado and consistent middle-distance performer Look Twice. 

Harry Sweeney, President of Godolphin in Japan, said: “It is quite uncommon to have a G2 or G3 handicap in Japan and African Gold is one of the light-weights here. 

“He is between two and four kilos better off than his age cohort, but will need this if he is to make an impression. 

“He is not without a chance, but we will still be pleased if he makes the frame.”