Fifth choice at 17-1, Namur captured her long-awaited first Grade 1 title in this year’s Mile Championship at Kyoto Racecourse.
It was her eighth attempt at the highest level under last-minute replacement jockey Kota Fujioka. He rode the 4-year-old filly in place of Ryan Moore who was slated to ride but fell from his mount in race 2 and underwent a medical checkup.
The Harbinger filly, after registering her first grade-race victory in the Tulip Sho (G1) as a 3-year-old, was third in the following Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks, G1) and second in the Shuka Sho (G1). Although she was under par in her two Grade 1 starts this spring, in which she finished seventh and 16th, she kicked off her fall campaign with a Grade 2 triumph in the Fuji Stakes on Oct. 21.
Trainer Tomokazu Takano, whose most recent Japan Racing Association Grade 1 victory was with Stunning Rose in last year’s Shuka Sho, landed his fifth JRA-G1 with the win, and jockey Kota Fujioka claimed his second JRA-G1 title after the 2009 Mile Cup with Jo Cappuccino.
Breaking from the outermost gate, Namur bolted out of the gate under Fujioka but was quickly under control and held back off the pace, two wide and positioned in front of Schnell Meister near the rear. As the field began to close in on the leader approaching the final corner, Namur made headway together with the race favorite and came charging from behind with a terrific turn of speed along the outside path to mow down her rivals and in time to pin the leader right before the wire for a neck victory.
On replacing Ryan Moore, Fujioka said, "I’d seen how the filly raced before and was aware of her ability in addition to receiving advice and information from the trainer as well as J. Moreira, who had ridden her in her last start, so I was positive going into the race and just concentrated on keeping her relaxed. The break didn’t go very smoothly but she was in good rhythm once settling into the race and responded well, so I knew we could get a good run as long as I did my job of getting her into a good spot at the straight. From there she really showed her strength.”