Japanese star Cheval Grand being primed for a crack at York showpiece

Cheval Grand winning the 2017 Japan Cup under Hugh Bowman. Photo: Japan Racing Association

Japan Cup winner, Cheval Grand, is being prepared for a tilt at the G1 Juddmonte International on the opening day of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival at York on August 21.

Trained in Japan by Yasuo Tomomichi, the seven-year-old has been a top-tier performer for a number of seasons, winning the 2017 Japan Cup, prior to finishing fourth behind Triple Crown winner and Japanese Horse of the Year Almond Eye in the latest renewal at Tokyo in November.

Cheval Grand has subsequently embarked on an international campaign, running second behind Old Persian in the Dubai Sheema Classic before his arrival at Abington Place Stables in Newmarket, where he is housed alongside last week’s G1 Nassau Stakes winner and compatriot, Deirdre.

Cheval Grand made his first British outing in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, finishing sixth behind Enable, but his chance of a stronger finish seems to have been scuppered by late rainfall.

“Cheval Grand is in very good form. He’s training towards York and we’re trying to get him better than last time,” said assistant trainer Yusuke Oe. “The ground was too soft for him in the King George. It was very unfortunate that it kept raining from the night before until the afternoon of the race and it was too slippy for him. He is a horse who prefers firm ground.”

Despite the inclement weather, Oe said Cheval Grand's preparation had gone smoothly since his Ascot outing. Riding arrangements have yet to be finalised for the son of Heart’s Cry, who was partnered by Oisin Murphy at Ascot.

“He will have another few gallops before York. He was fit in the King George, but he was beaten by two very brilliant horses in Enable and Crystal Ocean,” Oe added.

While Cheval Grand will be making his first outing at York in the £1 million showpiece, Oe himself has already gained experience of the Knavesmire, having made his maiden trip to the track in July. 

He said: “Last month, I visited York myself to see the racecourse and meet with the Clerk of the Course, William Derby. It felt like a racecourse with a good atmosphere.”

Cheval Grand is part of a 21 strong entry that remain engaged in the Juddmonte International – the feature contest on the Wednesday afternoon of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.

Included among the potential opposition are the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Crystal Ocean and John Gosden’s St James’s Palace Stakes runner-up, King Of Comedy.  

The festival runs from Wednesday, August 21 until Saturday, August 24, inclusively.

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