It was confirmed last week that Efforia, a colt by Epiphaneia, became the first 3yo since Orfevre in 2011 to be named Japanese Horse of the Year when the 2021 honours were revealed. Carrot Farm’s star received 277 of the 296 possible votes, easily outscoring the globetrotting Loves Only You, who received 18 votes for the top prize. Efforia was also unanimously named Champion 3yo Male which obviously was no great surprise.
For the third straight season, Contrail was awarded championship honours, this time as older male. Sparingly campaigned, the son of Rhodochrosite was third in the Group 1 Osaka Hai on his 4yo debut in April and then runner-up in the Tenno Sho before dominating the Group 1 Japan Cup in his career swansong in November.
The exploits of Loves Only You at home and abroad were rewarded with Champion Older Female honours. The 2019 Group 1 Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) heroine made just two of her six seasonal appearances in Japan, winning the Group 2 Kyoto Kinen in February before a third to Mishriff in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic and victory in the Group 1 QEII Cup in Hong Kong in April.
Though not as brilliant as in her championship 2yo season in 2020, Sodashi was named best of her generation in 2021, winning the Group 1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) and the Sapporo Kinen, defeating Loves Only You.
Gran Alegria successfully defended her title as Japan›s Champion Sprinter/Miler, her third championship overall after being named best 3yo filly of 2019. With victories in the Group 1 Asahi Hai Futurity and Hanshin Juvenile Fillies respectively, Do Deuce and Circle Of Life took top honours in the 2yo male and filly divisions. T O Keynes was named Champion Dirt Horse after his emphatic score in the Group 1 Champions Cup.