Star Japanese middle-distance performer, Orfevre, is a strong favourite to gain his revenge on the French filly, Solemia, for her victory over him in a heart-stopping renewal of the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October, when the pair clash again in the massively valuable Japan Cup at Tokyo racecourse on Sunday, writes Elliot Slater.
Winner of the 2011 Japanese Triple Crown, Orfevre was a sporting challenger for the Arc de Triomphe on heavy ground that was believed to be all against him, the overwhelming majority of his eight wins on home soil having come on a firm surface.
Drawn widest of all in stall 20, everything seemed to have conspired against the four-year-old son of Stay Gold, but he stunned Parisian race-goers when making a dynamic bid for glory down the wide outside of the field over two furlongs from home, surging past Europe’s finest horses to go clear inside the final furlong.
It was only in the last 100 yards, (and possibly as a result of being out on his own for too long), that the Far Eastern star began to flag, exactly at the same time as the filly, Solemia, suddenly rallied to tremendous effect under Oliver Peslier.
Solemia reeled in the leader in the last few strides to gain an incredible victory by just a neck, the pair having stormed seven lengths clear of Masterstroke back in third. The result still makes for popular viewing on the Betfair YouTube channel.
Solemia, at her best when the mud is flying, is most unlikely to encounter such conditions in Japan, but her connections must be applauded for taking on the challenge of the big race and giving the local hero an opportunity to get his own back.
The Paul Nicholls tips page rates Orfevre a general 7/4 chance, with Solemia offered at up to 9/1 to confirm the form.