Superstar Contrail leaves rivals in his trail again as Triple Crown bid awaits

Contrail, seemingly the next equine superstar of Japan, confirmed that impression when taking a brilliant final step towards the racing-mad nation's Triple Crown in the Kobe Shimbun Hai at Chukyo on Sunday.

Unbeaten and with the first two legs of the Triple Crown – the Satsuki Sho (2,000 Guineas) and Tokyo Yushun (Derby) – under his belt, the crack three-year-old was settled off the pace towards the rail by Yuichi Fukunaga and never got out of second gear, cantering over his 17 rivals for an effortless success in the one-mile-three-furlong contest.

Next up will be the Kikuka Sho, the Japanese St Leger, at Kyoto on October 25 and the chance to emulate the awesomely enigmatic Orfevre (2011) and Contrail's sire Deep Impact (2005) as Triple Crown darlings.

Weltreisende was a two-length second and Robertson Quay a neck away in third, but the Grade 2, which offered prize-money of £383,564 to the winner, was about only one horse.

He is owned by Shinji Maeda and trained by Yoshito Yahagi, who fielded Grand Prix Boss against the mighty Frankel in the 2011 St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

He also has plenty of other experience with top-class thoroughbreds, winning the 2016 Dubai Turf with the Ryan Moore-ridden Real Steel and last year's Cox Plate with Lys Gracieux.

The trainer, however, could have the pick of his bunch in Contrail, who shares his name with the line-shaped clouds produced by planes and Fukunaga, the partner of 2014 world champion Just A Way, must feel like he is piloting a jumbo jet. 

The jockey said: "I'm relieved he won. He was unbeaten, so I couldn't lose today even though it was his first race after a break, and I'm happy he won without using up all of his power.

"I thought today's race was difficult because of the inside stall so I had to be careful about a clear run for him. He can react to my cue quickly, so I believed in him and could enter the home straight without rushing.

"I'd like to do my best and make him an unbeaten Triple Crown winner."

Trainer Yahagi was also satisfied, purring: "I thought we had to get the result even though it was a trial.

"I was a little bit impatient because his trip wasn't clear, but he ran well, so it is perfect as a prep race.

"He was imposing from the paddock to when he entered the course today and I felt he's grown up, but I think he'd be at his best next year. I will train him for the Kikuka Sho and hope to make him the Triple Crown winner."