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Dubai Duty Free: Dark Shadow in focus
by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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Second to Trailblazer in his prep race at home, the Japanese runner Dark Shadow is going for the Dubai Duty Free (G1) at Meydan on World Cup night. He was favourite for the Kyoto Kinen (G2) over 2200 metres last month but the step up in distance may have been a contributing factor to his defeat, as Trailblazer beat Dark Shadow by 2 lengths. It was a good run nevertheless, and a promising start to the new season. Last year, Dark Shadow won two valuable events over 1800 metres and the Duty Free distance is just perfect for this five-year-old.

He justified favouritism in the Epsom Cup (G3) at Tokyo racecourse in June, by coming home 2 lengths clear of Able Chairman, with Sacred Valley (G3 winner on his preceding start) back in third place. Four months later, Dark Shadow confirmed his class over the same course and distance, landing the Mainichi Okan (G2) as the even money favourite. The son of Dance In The Dark did not have such an easy time of it that day, and he showed his battling qualities to come out best in a close finish involving four horses. He beat Real Impact by a neck. Mikkie Dream was another neck away in third, finishing just a head in front of the fourth placed Esihin Apollon who is also being pointed at the Duty Free. Real Impact had previously won the famous Yasuda Kinen Stakes (G1), while Eishin Apollon improved to win his next to races and achieved success at the highest level in the Mile Championship (G1).

Dark Shadow himself also moved forward after the Mainichi Okan but he came up half a length short of another win when taking part in the Tenno Sho Autumn (G1) over 2000 metres at Tokyo in late October. It was the 32-1 chance Tosen Jordan who spoiled the party for Dark Shadow, while the favourite Buena Vista could only managed fourth. Four weeks later Buena Vista won the Japan Cup (G1), with Tosen Jordan second, giving Dark Shadow's form a solid boost. He is clearly one of the best performers in Japan and must be respected this weekend.

Published: 2012-03-26 08:43:54

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