2024 Victoria Mile: Group 1 Review

Venue: Tokyo
Distance: 1600m
Value: ¥281,800,000 (approx. US$1.99million)

What looked like a race with few genuine chances delivered an upset when 207-1 shot Ten Happy Rose gave veteran jockey Akihide Tsumura a maiden Group 1. 

Ten Happy Rose had never so much as placed in a Group race, let alone won at top level, but Daisuke Takayangi’s six-year-old became the longest priced winner in a JRA Group 1 since Copono Rickey’s 271-1 triumph in the 2014 Group 1 February Stakes.

If you didn’t know the pre-race odds, you would call this win clinical.

Tsumura had Ten Happy Rose jump clean and, after opting out of the speed battle, eased into a midfield spot with room to move. The mare made the most of her chance, charging into the lead to catch Fierce Pride. 

2024 Victoria Mile: Race Replay

TEN HAPPY ROSE / G1 Victoria Mile // Tokyo /// 2024 //// Video by JRA

The Beaten Favourites

The market had just two horses in single figures, and it wasn’t a pretty watch for punters who had either of them on top.

Masked Diva was the unluckiest, Joao Moreira failing to find a gap when he needed it, shifting back to the inside to run on for a non-threatening third. 

Masked Diva
MASKED DIVA / G1 Shuka Sho // Kyoto /// 2023 //// Photo by @kabosu7222

Was second favourite Namur leg weary after her second in the Dubai Turf? She never looked likely after jumping slow, settling second last under Yutake Take and running into eighth. 

Horse To Follow

Masked Diva clearly has some upside and is one to watch if she heads abroad.

Likewise, fourth-placed Doe Eyes is another four-year-old that might find a winnable race in Asia.

Overall though, this Victoria Mile will not be remembered as a particularly strong vintage. 

Feel-Good Factor

This race will be remembered for Tsumura’s G1 breakthrough after 21 seasons in the JRA. He was greeted by a large crowd in the Tokyo Racecourse parade ring after the last for an interview and presentation.

JRA jockey Akihide Tsumura
AKIHIDE TSUMURA / G1 Victoria Mile // Tokyo /// 2024 //// Photo by Shuhei Okada

For trainer Takayangi it was his first G1 on the turf: his previous Group 1 success in the JRA was with dirt monster T O Keynes in the 2021 Champions Cup. 

Monster Dividends

The warm reception for Ten Happy Rose – and particularly for Tsumura – from the always respectful Tokyo crowd for a winner very few had on their tickets was heartening.

More than ¥16,000,000,000 (more than US$106m) was bet on the race and when the dividends flashed on the infield screen they brought plenty of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’.

Those who nabbed the trifecta might have been disappointed with ¥916,640 for ¥100 given there was 207-1 first and 11-1 second, even with the favourite third … perhaps professional teams had swooped?

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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