The Mile Championship Group 1 Preview

Group 1 racing continues in Japan this weekend with one of their biggest mile races of the year.

We're back at Hanshin on Sunday for The Mile Championship, a race dominated by Gran Alegria over the last two years. The star mare had already won an Oka Sho, a Yasuda Kinen (beating Almond Eye) and a Sprinters Stakes before running to 121 in her 2020 win and would run to 122 last year.

She beat Schnell Meister and Danon The Kid there who are back this year for another crack without an established #1 miler in Japan at the moment.

Schnell Meister is one of the leading chances again having been unsuited first up in the Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama, running on okay late. His peak of 125 with Timeform is easily good enough to win this race and he's run it over a mile twice, including behind Gran Alegria in this race last year. He's the benchmark.

A key form race for this is the Yasuda Kinen over a mile at Tokyo in June. Songline (who isn't here) won the race ahead of Schnell Meister 2nd, Salios 3rd, Serifos 4th and Danon The Kid 6th.

Salios ran to 123 there which is nearly as good as he goes, with a peak of 124 as a 3yo when second to Contrail in the Satsuki Sho. Key to note he started 15-1 in the Yasuda Kinen which was much longer than both Schnell Meister and Serifos. He's a winning chance but looking at the likely market I think he's short enough.

Serifos does create some interest. He's a three-year-old who has only had seven starts but did charge home for fourth in that Yasuda Kinen, running to 123. He resumed with a strong win in the Fuji Stakes at Tokyo, running to 120 and beating Soul Rush and Danon Scorpion, although they do meet him 4lbs better at the weights for 0.3 and 0.6 length margins. He's still on the up however and was terrific flashing back to the inside in the Yasuda Kinen.

Danon Scorpion is also a three-year-old colt with seven starts under the belt. He rated higher than Serifos at Tokyo latest, giving him 4lbs under the conditions but meets him at level weights here. Serifos did start shorter in the market, likely due to that weight difference, but there's very little between them. They did meet at two, Serifos starting favourite at $2.40 in the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, running second to Do Deuce with Danon Scorpion in third.

Soul Rush is a bit more exposed but coming off his best career rating of 121 in the Fuji Stakes, meeting the three-year-olds better at the weights. He's currently around fourth pick in the market and I'd be happy to take him on as I don't think he has another level in him and that 121 likely won't be quite good enough to win this.

Last but not least, Japan's favourite horse/unicorn, Sodashi has to get a mention, and strong one, because the JRA totes have her as favourite at the moment, which may change come race day.

Her peak rating of 121, which bumps up to 125 given her 4lbs mare's allowance is easily good enough to win this and it came just three starts ago in the Group 1 Victoria Mile at Tokyo against the girls. She was well beaten first up at Sapporo in a fast 1 1⁄4 m behind Jack D'Or and Panthalassa but is better suited over 1600m.

Interestingly she's gone 2000-1800 and now back to 1 m this preparation. The fans and the market love her and her 118 last start (122 with the allowance) is solid, but I thought she had every chance there and the winner has since run very poorly in the Queen Elizabeth. She can win but I'll be looking to try and get her beaten as an early favourite with a bit of value around.

Schnell Meister is the obvious one with the peak ratings to win this but at 3-1 he's short enough as well and I think the three-year-olds have a great chance.

I'll be backing both Serifos (again finding D Lane) and Danon Scorpion to roll a couple of more fancied runners, with $11 and $8 available for the pair respectively.

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