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Horse Racing: Japan's Arc dream boosted by impressive trial wins

Horse Racing: Japan's Arc dream boosted by Kizuna's winning ways

PARIS: Japan's hopes of landing Europe's most prestigious race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, after 33 years of heartbreak received a huge boost when both Kizuna and Orfevre won their Arc trials in impressive fashion.


Kizuna, this year's Japan Derby winner, won the Group Two Prix Niel over the Arc distance of 2400 metres (1 1/2 miles) at Longchamp, the Parisian racecourse where the Arc will be run on October 6.


Kizuna -- who is quoted at 6/1 by English bookmakers Corals while rivals Ladbrokes go 8/1 -- carries more than just the hopes of his connections.


He has also become an equine symbol for Japan and their bid to recover from the tsunami and earthquake that hit north eastern Japan in 2011 killing over 18,000 people.


His name, translated into English as 'ties' or 'bond', was a sentiment his owner Shinji Maeda hoped would prevail among the Japanese people in the wake of the disaster.


Kizuna's jockey Yutaka Take reflected both that feeling and the emotional following the horse has at home when he unfurled the Japanese flag after winning the Niel and paraded it in front of Japanese spectators.


"Kizuna is a very beautiful name and especially all that it symbolises," said 44-year-old Take.


"I really appreciate being able to ride a horse with a name that carries so much emotional power and also because of the reason why he was called Kizuna.


"It gives me great pride to be given this responsibility."

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