Japonisme finally delivers the cerise a group 1 for Chris Waller

The bold cerise colours that ruled Crown Lodge for so long shocked the operation’s new owners on what was supposed to be the coronation of Godolphin star Exosphere at Flemington on Saturday.

Japonisme took a rails run to take out the Coolmore Stud Stakes as Exosphere floundered into fourth on the soft track. It gave Ingham Racing its first group 1 since selling the giant racing operation.

The Inghams had moved their horses to Chris Waller before he was the overwhelming force in Australian racing but have had to wait until well into his 50s in group 1 wins for their turn. But good things come to those who are patient.

“We always knew it would come and it was always going to come when you least expected,” Lyn Ingham said. “We were up against Exosphere, he is a super horse.

“We thought he was just coming running for second. But when you least expect it, it comes and it is fantastic.”

The joy for the Ingham family overflowed. “It is sweet when you have to wait that long,” Robbie Ingham said. “Dad will be at home cheering. We have come to the races so many times thinking this will be the day but we didn’t think that today and look what happened.”

Japonisme burst through along the rails, which was an advantage all day, and raced away to win by 1-1/2 lengths from Keen Array, with stablemate Counterattack another three-quarters of a length back in third.
Exosphere was a further two lengths away in fourth, leaving big bets of $200,000, $100,000 and $50,000 in the bookies’ bags. James McDonald said he just failed to handle the soft conditions.

“I got out at the 400m and I thought he was just going to win,” McDonald said. “He just didn’t let go in the conditions.”

Exosphere will be spelled and miss the Darley Classic as will Japonisme, which become Waller’s third straight winner of the Coolmore Stud Stakes.

“I think you’ve got to prepare well for it, which we did,” Waller said. “He’s been down here, he had a nice quiet jump-out which has been a proven formula for our horses in the past three years of the race.

“We hadn’t changed anything and I think that’s been a big help knowing what works and maybe what doesn’t.”

The big Choisir gelding is starting to make a habit of knocking off stallion prospects after Waller declared him a group 1 horse back in August. A lot has been made of the size of Exosphere but Japonisme is more like a tank and bullocked his way clear for Glyn Schofield.

“He is big and strong and it was a tight run to take but once he got through he was very powerful to the line,” Schofield said. “He has beaten Vancouver and Exosphere now and they are both considered stars but he is still under the radar.”

“Mr [Bob] Ingham sitting at home will be exceptionally proud and I know he’s very proud of his family,” Waller said. “I spoke to him [on Friday] and I know he would have absolutely loved that.

“The Ingham family have been great supporters of mine. They came to me even before I won my first group 1. The owners knocked back a sizeable offer for the horse and I put my reputation on the line because I told them he was a group 1 horse.” – Chris Roots, Sydney Morning Herald
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