HAVING PRODUCED A strong finish under Yuichi Fukunaga to win Sunday’s 3200m Group 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) at Hanshin, World Premiere was always holding off favourite Deep Bond to win cosily.

In a thrilling renewal of the most important Japanese contest for stayers, four held every chance racing well into the final 200m before World Premiere made steady progress from midfield and then moved clear of the rest Curren Bouquetd’or had come through to challenge early leader Diastima but weakened to finish third behind the strong surges of the first two in what is Japan’s longest top flight race.

Christophe Lemaire had won the last two renewals of the Tenno Sho, worth about $1.5 million to the winner, on Fierement but had to settle for fourth this time on Aristoteles. Winning rider Fukunaga, son of legendary jockey Yoichi Fukunaga, who won the Tenno Sho with Erimo George in 1976, said: “He was very strong and it was a tough race.

Though I couldn’t start smoothly, I recovered to get in a good position and it went very well. When Win Marilyn advanced outside of us, I had to move earlier than I thought, but he used his good stride to hit the front. I’m honoured to win this prestigious race.”

The victory was a second at the highest level for World Premiere, owned by Ryoichi Otsuka and bred by Northern Farm, having also won the Group 1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St Leger) two years ago.