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Japanese Star To Bid Farewell This Sunday
The 58th Gr1 Arima Kinen (the Grand Prix) will be all about Orfevre, the champion Japanese galloper who will call it quits after the season-ending spectacle at Nakayama Racecourse this Sunday, reports japanracing.jp. The 5YO chestnut entire will make his 21st and final start in the Arima Kinen (2500m), Japan's equivalent of the Melbourne Cup, in that it is a national sporting event that reaches far beyond the usual fan base. "He almost retired last season, but I begged the owners to put it off a year," trainer Yasutoshi Ikee said. "Win or lose, this will be his last race. But I don't think I'll have the luxury of dwelling in the emotions on the day of the race; I've got four other horses who will be in the race and to look after." Regardless of what happens on Sunday, former Horse of the Year Orfevre (Stay Gold-Oriental Art, by Mejiro McQueen) will almost certainly be enshrined in Japanese racing's hall of fame once he hangs up his shoes. Hitherto, the son of Stay Gold has won 11 of his 20 starts, including five Gr1 races, and is just the seventh Japanese horse in history to win the Triple Crown. In a further testament to his class, Orfevre was runner-up in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe the last two years, this year finishing second to the remarkable Treve, whom Ikee considers exceptional. "I could only admire how strong Treve was. She could possibly be the world's best racehorse in decades," he said. "Orfevre ran a good race, left everything behind out there. The time he's been given to recover and it has made a huge difference for this race." In the saddle for the superstar's swansong will be Kenichi Ikezoe, who has ridden Orfevre for every one of his starts on home soil. "Hopefully he runs like he always does. I know everyone wants him to win; I just hope I can come through," he said.