Group 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) Preview 2023

The Spring edition of the Tenno Sho (Emperor’s Prize) takes place at the newly renovated Kyoto racecourse on Sunday.

The stayer's edition of the Tenno Sho this weekend over two miles, won by the likes of Deep Impact, Kitasan Black and Gold Ship. Titleholder is looking for back-to-back victories in the race which is not all that uncommon.

Fierement, Kitasan Black and Fenomeno have won six of the past ten editions and Titleholder will very likely go into Sunday's feature as favourite to repeat his dominant win last year.

As is his style, he ran them into the ground over the 2 m at Hanshin last year to win by 7 lengths and post a clear new peak of 127 at the time with Timeform.

Since then he's won the Group 1 Takarazuka Kinen (2200m) running to 128, before failing on heavy ground in the Group 1 Prix De L'arc De Triomphe (2400m) and then seemingly just feeling the effects of that trip to be well beaten in the Arima Kinen won by Equinox.

He proved he's well and truly over that with a dominant return win in the Group 2 Nikkei Sho (2500m) at Nakayama, running to 127 again with an 8 length win, the same race he won before the Tenno Sho last year.

When he's in the zone, I think only Equinox can beat Titleholder, in Japan and potentially even worldwide at the moment, so it all comes down to price, and his current one doesn't really offer any value.

The four-year-olds are all vying for that second spot and all have intertwining three-year-old form.

Ask Victor More, Boldog Hos and Justin Palace all ran in the Group 1 Kikuka Sho (3000m), the Japanese St Leger, and there was 0.6 lengths separating them in the placings, in that order.

Boldog Hos was arguably the best run in the race, going down by 0.1 lengths after coming from well back. He then ran in the Arima Kinen and was good in second behind Equinox before starting $1.60 in the Group 2 Hanshin Daishoten (3000m) on resumption but finding Ask Victor More better, going down by 1.8 lengths.

I could make a case for him and Justin Palace being closer together in the market given his SP last start and given he did run to 124 in the Arima Kinen which is the second highest peak rating in the field.

Justin Palace posted a new peak figure of 123 at Hanshin which he'd need to improve on again to be troubling Titleholder at his best but he did get the favours and I wouldn't be all that surprised if Boldog Hos, who has by all reports worked extremely well leading turns the tables.

Ask Victor More went to tackle Titleholder first up and was given a rude awakening, starting basically even in the market with him at $2.30 on soft (ish) ground and struggling, beaten 16 lengths. I think he's deservedly the third pick of that trio.

Outisde of them, I really struggle to see anything else winning. At his absolute best, Deep Bond wouldn't be the worst having run second in this race two year's ago, and last year when beaten 7 lengths by Titleholder but we haven't seen anything near his best for over a year now.

Damian Lane's mount Silver Sonic will stay all day and might sneak into a minor placing if a couple don't perform but he'd need to improve about 10 pounds to be winning.

It all comes down to price with Titleholder. $2.70 was being bet earlier in the week which looked very appealing but final field has him into $1.90 and I think his true price probably lies around $2.20.

I think Boldog Hos might be the best 'value' outside of the favourite and could mark him equal second pick with Justin Palace in third, but he doesn't really make appeal at $7.50 to beat Titleholder, who we'll have to hold out on and hope for a bit better.

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