Cup hero Cheval Grand could go global as locals eye international glory

A potential crack at the Dubai Sheema Classic could be on the agenda next spring for Japan Cup hero Cheval Grand.

After the five-year-old led home a Japanese 1-2-3-4 of the country's biggest international prize in Tokyo on Sunday, trainer Yasuo Tomomichi may well be tempted abroad with Cheval Grand.

The trainer enjoyed success on World Cup night with Vivlos who, like Cheval Grand, runs in the colours of baseball star Kazuhiro Sasaki, and who will be kept in training in 2018 with a defence of her Meydan crown the target.

Tomomichi described the Sheema Classic – won in 2006 by Cheval Grand's sire Heart’s Cry – as "not impossible" but also has the choice of the Tenno Sho (Spring), in which he has sent out Cheval Grand to be third and then second in the last two years.

First Tomomichi will concentrate on preparing Cheval Grand for the Arima Kinen at Nakayama on December 24, when he is due to face Kitasan Black, after which Japan’s reigning Horse of the Year will be retired.

"This year he came into his fall campaign in great condition and we had planned from the start with his owner that our target would be the Japan Cup and then the Arima Kinen, and that another hard race [in October’s Tenno Sho Autumn] would be too much," said Tomomichi.

"He will head towards the Arima Kinen as planned and this victory has given me great confidence with regard to another Grade 1 success."

Tomomichi was also responsible for fourth placed Makahiki, who was arguably the one hard luck story in the race after receiving a hefty bump on straightening up.

Last year's Prix Niel winner will not be going to the Arima Kinen and has the Grade 1 Osaka Hai at Hanshin in April as his principal Spring objective.

Cheval Grand and Hugh Bowman winning the 2017 Grade 1 Japan Cup (2400m) at Tokyo on Sunday, picture Japan Racing Association

Japan Cup runner-up Rey De Oro will not go to Nakayama, with trainer Fujisawa Kazuyoshi instead concentrating on next year for the winner of the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby).

Rey De Oro was drawn next to Cheval Grand in stall two on Sunday but forfeited any advantage after a sluggish start and was forced to come wide under Christophe Lemaire.

"Although he has done it before, the start was not good," said Kazuyoshi. "The result has opened up a lot of options next year. He will be rested and will not participate in the Arima Kinen."

One Japanese star who seems sure to be on his travels once again is Satono Diamond, whose Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe challenge this autumn was derailed by heavy ground in France.

Trainer Yasutoshi Ikee ruled out the son of Deep Impact of the Arima Kinen last week and will look for firm ground abroad in the second half of 2018, meaning the Breeders’ Cup and Australia might come under consideration.

"He is out to pasture at the moment but I am looking at running him in January and February," said Ikee. "I will concentrate on a domestic campaign in the spring next year and I think that I will go abroad for the autumn. Even ignoring the Arc de Triomphe there are still many choices without it."