The world's premier two-mile contest takes place this Sunday at Kyoto with last year's winner Fierement out to defend his crown in a race that has been friendly to previous winners in recent times.
Both Kitasan Black and Fenomeno have gone back-to-back in the race in the last ten years. Cheval Grand was able to place three years running while Curren Mirotic and Win Variation were also able to hit the frame a couple of times.
So Tenno Sho form is good for the Tenno Sho - makes sense - and the Racing and Sports Priceline agrees.
Assessed Prices: Fierement $3.20; You Can Smile $5.50; Mozu Bello $10.00; Mikki Swallow $10.00 ; Kiseki $10.00
Fierement's Arc attempt fizzled on the testing ground but he showed that took little out of him with a very solid effort in the Arima Kinen and has been set for this ever since. With the win in this last year and a St Leger trophy to his name, there are none with better staying credentials in Japan at present and he must be considered the horse to beat.
You Can Smile won the Hanshin Daishoten, a race that both Rainbow Line and Gold Ship have used as a springboard to Tenno Sho success in recent times, and must have a good hope. He was placed in Fierement's St Leger and ran quite well as a 5-1 chance in last year's spring Tenno Sho. His effort back at 2000m in the autumn version of the race was a cracker behind Almond Eye as well and while the Hanshin lead-up was not a high-rating heat in 2020 he won it well and is certainly the one best placed to come from that event and go well here.
Kiseki was well beaten after making a mess of the start behind You Can Smile at Hanshin - sent around a dominant favourite. Like Fierement he is a Leger winner but he hasn't been able to score in over two years since despite running so high class ratings in defeat in that time.
He was alongside Fierement in the Arima Kinen, after also finding the ground too testing at Longchamp, and his best ratings would say that he is at least as good, if not a bit better, than the favourite here. The nagging query is that he hasn't been right at his best for over 12 months now and looks vulnerable to fresher legs.
The other key lead up is the Nikkei Sho, won by Mikki Swallow . Fenomeno did the double in 2013 but generally the race has rated a bit below other key formlines.
Mikki Swallow was a solid winner of that race but fits that mould of rating a bit below where the Tenno Sho is typically won. The runner up there, Mozu Bello has a bit of a rapidly emerging feel about him though and ran far and away his best race to date last time.
His profile is picked up by the priceline which gives him a good hope of stepping up again on Sunday at Kyoto.