Group 1 NHK Mile Cup Preview 2023

The three-year-olds do battle at Tokyo on Sunday and it’s a wide-open affair.

Four runners currently in single figures with 11 of the 18 at $21 or shorter, including dual $5.50 favourites should mean plenty of betting angles for this year's Group 1 NHK Mile Cup.

It's always an interesting race because the mile scene, especially for three-year-olds, isn't really the focus of Japanese racing. These horses aren't on an Oaks/Derby path but plenty have contested some of the earlier top level races and been found wanting, up against the more progressive late bloomers.

The two market leaders come through the Group 2 New Zealand Trophy (1600m) at Nakayama, where Eeyan continued on his three-run winning streak. He posted a new peak of 112 there (up from 100) but I'm not sure how much more he's got to offer. He has a good racing pattern but was well beaten in starts at Tokyo last time in.

Dolce More started the $1.70 favourite there and was disappointing, leading early before dropping out to finish seventh, beaten 4 lengths. He did go at a strong gallop there so was perhaps entitled to fade especially given he was first up.

He's the only Group 1 winner in the field having taken out the Group 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes (1600m) at two, although I've been suspect on that form at three as it hasn't really worked out. Off his SP last start and given he was first up however I'd expect big improvement.

Also through the New Zealand Trophy was Umbrail, who got into second with a big run from the back. She drew wide there but does have plenty of tactical speed so expect her to sit closer, although losing Lemaire hurts. She started $6.60 in the Group 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies (1600m) behind star Liberty Island.

Sing That Song is one of two runners coming through a Group 1, having run seventh to Liberty Island in the Group 1 Oka Sho (1600m). She was a good but not great winner prior and I think the winner is the only horse you want to take out of the Oka Sho.

The other last start Group 1 runner is Danon Touchdown. I had high hopes for him at two when he flew home for second to All Parfait at Hanshin, starting second favourite in the Futurity and finishing second to Dolce More, who started a narrow favourite.

He resumed in the Group 1 Satsuki Sho (2000m) and was awful, dropping right out to be beaten some 49 lengths. I think 1 1⁄4 m was certainly a bridge too far and the track was rain affected but even still, at $8.50 you're hardly getting a price about him to bounce back.

The other form race worth noting is the Group 3 Arlington Cup (1600m), won by Obamburumai. That was a good effort and equalled his peak of 107 with Timeform first up at his fourth start which is a promising sign. The pace there was strong with a tearaway leader and he still had plenty of work to do late, not looking entirely comfortable in the soft conditions. I think he's the one to take out of that race, even if the likes of Session did a bit of work towing the field up.

He ran in the Futurity, starting $14 with C P Lemaire on and just got way too far back in the big field, finishing seventh. He'll need to improve his rating a fair bit but I think he's capable of doing so and Yutaka Take keeps the ride from a middle draw.

Last but not least, Damian Lane's mount Carro Veloce is on the second line of betting. Beaten narrowly as favourite in the Group 3 Chunichi Sports Sho Falcon Stakes (1400m) last time out, he's run to 109 and 108 at his past two starts. He probably should've won there too, just held up at a crucial stage when needing a run. Not sure where he gets to from the draw because both times he's seen a big field he's drawn low. Still, if Lane can get him into the right spot he'll be highly competitive.

Near on impossible Group 1. Most of the field have plenty of bits and pieces of form but I do think the favourite should be Dolce More. I'm still wary on that Futurity form but he did start favourite there and win and I can forgive the failure first up at $1.70. Carro Veloce is the main danger and probably should be rated 110 with a bit of luck last time. Obamburumai might be the danger at double figures. He's on the up and posted a competitive rating last start, seemingly with more to come. Happy to have something on all three at around $5.50, $7.50 and $10, and take on Eeyan and Danon Touchdown.

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