Group 1 Oka Sho (1000 Guineas) Preview

The first of the Japanese Classics for 2023 with the three-year-old fillies racing over a mile in the Oka Sho at Hanshin.

Leg one of the Fillies' triple crown with the Group 1 Oka Sho (1600m) this Sunday at Hanshin. The recent honour roll of the race is littered with some of the best Japanese fillies, with Stars On Earth, Sodashi, Daring Tact, Gran Alegria and Almond Eye having won the past five.

All five of those fillies have gone on to win at least one more Group 1 and most have won multiple and this year is headlined by the only Group 1 winner in the field, the odds-on favourite Liberty Island.

A daughter of Australian Group 1 winning mare Yankee Rose, she holds the record for the fastest last 3 f ever recorded in JRA history, when flying home in a remarkable 31.4 seconds to post a figure of 95.

Unlucky not to win the Group 3 Artemis Stakes (1600m) at Tokyo as a $1.40 favourite when held up and flashing late, she was dominant winning the Group 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (1600m) at the track and distance, rating 111 and doing it in fine style.

That stacks up well with the better two-year-old winners in recent Japanese history and from all reports she's come back very well.

Japan have her predicted tote odds to be about $1.50 and the one Australian bookmaker with a market has her at $1.80 which is fair enough and perhaps even a shade of value. She looks very good and should be winning.

The only other horse in single figures is Light Quantum who missed the Juvenile Fillies' and instead ran in the Group 3 Shinzan Kinen (1600m) at Chukyo.

A winner on debut at Tokyo, she ran to 88 there and improved to run 106 at her second start, which is better than Liberty Island ran at her second start (albeit with excuses).

She has good tactical speed and likely settles in front of Liberty Island. Having not run in the Juvenile Fillies like a few of these, we don't know quite how she measures up against the favourite, hence her place in the market.

After those two, there's a good group of horses around that $17-26 mark. Most of them have form behind Liberty Island which makes it hard to pick anything with confidence given the way she monstered them last time.

The best of them might be Moon Probe who made up good late ground to finish a narrow second over 7 f last time out. By Maurice, she gave the indication a mile will be ideal now but was beaten out of sight by Liberty Island when they met although may have come back better at three.

Finding it very difficult to tip against Liberty Island. She deserves to be a fair way into the red given how easily she beat most of her rivals at two, and from all reports she's come back even better. I have her marked around $1.75 so if you wanted to get involved at $1.80 I wouldn't talk you out of it.

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