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Japan's most colourful trainer is taking aim at the Sussex Stakes

Top-class middle-distance colt Shahryar is not the only Japanese Dubai World Cup night winner in line for a trip to Britain this summer as Bathrat Leon is set to contest the Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on July 27.

A leading contender for the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot next month, Shahryar dismissed a quality field in Meydan's Dubai Sheema Classic in March when Bathrat Leon caused a big upset by landing the Godolphin Mile at 66-1 for trainer Yoshito Yahagi and owners Hiroo Race Co Ltd.

He was no match for Shahryar in last year's Japanese Derby, but had posted useful form prior to that and was right back to his best under Ryusei Sakai last time.

"I went to the Qatar Goodwood Festival many years ago, before I started to run my stable, and I was very impressed with the meeting and with the racecourse," said colourful 61-year-old Yahagi, who is known for wearing eyecatching hats on racedays.

"Goodwood is my favourite racecourse in Europe and I understand the Sussex Stakes is a very prestigious race, which shapes the championship of European milers, so it is a great honour for me to have a runner there."

Bathrat Leon's sire Kizuna won the Prix Niel during his racing career and the four-year-old is out of a mare by Derby hero New Approach.

"While Bathrat Leon won the Godolphin Mile on the dirt at Meydan, he is as good on turf as he is on a dirt surface, and his pedigree has received a lot of European influence from his dam side," Yahagi added.

"I believe Bathrat Leon can handle the track at Goodwood well.

"He will depart Japan at the end of June and head to Newmarket where he will be prepared for the race. He will not run before then.”

Results at Meydan in the spring once again underlined the strength of Japanese horses on the international scene and also the prowess of Yahagi, whose Grand Prix Boss ran behind Frankel in the 2011 St James's Palace Stakes.

Since then, he has embellished an impressive CV by sending out a host of important winners across the globe, including 2019 Cox Plate winner Lys Gracieux.

Loves Only You, twice on the mark at the highest level in Hong Kong, became the first Japanese-trained winner at the Breeders' Cup when she captured the Filly & Mare Turf in November just hours before stablemate Marche Lorraine struck in the Distaff.

Yahagi, responsible for Contrail, Japan's Triple Crown star of 2020, did not have only Bathrat Leon's victory to celebrate in March as he he also captured the Dubai Gold Cup with Stay Foolish, while Panthalassa dead-heated with the John and Thady Gosden-trained Lord North in the Dubai Turf.

Bathrat Leon would not be the first Far East raider to emerge on top at Glorious Goodwood as Deirdre won the Nassau Stakes in 2019 under Oisin Murphy.

 

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