2024 NHK Mile Cup: Group 1 Review

Track: Tokyo Racecourse
Distance: 1600m
Value: ¥281,800,000 (about US$1.99million)

Jantar Mantar did it the hard way at Tokyo and announced himself as a rising star in the G1 NHK Mile Cup. 

Winning jockey Yuga Kawada was left posted three-wide no cover after rolling forward from gate 16 on the big track but the defending champion rider scored a points victory over rival Christophe Lemaire. 

Lemaire was in an otherwise ideal spot – one-out, one-back – aboard filly Ascoli Piceno, the Oka Show runner-up who just shaded Jantar Mantar for favouritism. 

That race position would prove to be key though. With 400m left, Kawada held his line, and nerve, forcing Lemaire to take a dramatic inside run that ultimately caused interference and Ascoli Piceno to lose her action for a stride. 

After regaining her gallop, Ascoli Piceno was closing late but would she have won with a clear run? The two-and-a-half length margin on the line, and preceding trip, suggested the best horse won on the day. 

2024 NHK Mile Cup: Race Replay

JANTAR MANTAR / G1 NHK Mile Cup // Tokyo /// 2024 //// Photo by Shuhei Okada

What They Said

Yuga Kawada: “I had every confidence in my colt. Once we were off, I knew he was going to win, there were no doubts in my mind. He ran in good rhythm and showed his true strength. Concerns of his tight schedule—his latest Satsuki Sho start being only three weeks before—obviously was nothing to be worried about. I hope I can prove he is the best miler in Japan in the future.”

Yuga Kawada after winning the G1 NHK Mile Cup on Jantar Mantar
YUGA KAWADA / G1 NHK Mile Cup // Tokyo /// 2024 //// Photo by Shuhei Okada

Fact File

It was both trainer Tomkazu Takano and Kawada’s first Group 1 since Jantar Mantar won the G1 Futurity Stakes last December.

The Stewards

There were clear excuses for third favourite Bond Girl, who caught the knock on effect of Mirai Iwata’s wayward riding on Channel Tunnel and then Lemaire’s desperate maneuvering on Ascoli Piceno late. Both received fines but more puzzling was the fine and ‘demerit’ points leveled at Moreira on the unlucky fourth-place getter Gonbade Qabus.

Best Of The Rest

Unheralded Logi Leon launched late for third. Trainer Masaki Koga is a long way down the JRA pecking order, his only G1 win was when Saint Emiliom dead-heated with Apapane in the 2010 Oaks, but he might have found another top level contender. 

Michael Cox is Editor of Idol Horse. A sports journalist with 19 years experience, Michael has a family background in harness racing in the Newcastle and Hunter Valley region of Australia. Best known for writing on Hong Kong racing, Michael’s previous publications include South China Morning Post, The Age, Sun Herald, Australian Associated Press, Asian Racing Report and Illawarra Mercury.

View all articles by Michael Cox.

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