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Arima09 by Deliberation
有馬記念2009-観戦記-
武豊リーチザクラウンがスタート良く飛び出し、内のミヤビランベリを制する形で先頭に立った。確たる人気馬不在の中、各ジョッキーが勝ちを意識し、少しでも有利なポジションでレースを進めようと、スタートしてから192mしかない第1コーナーに殺到したことによって、全体的に淀みのない、前半1000m通過が58秒6という、昨年のダイワスカーレットの時よりも速いペースでレースは流れた。ブエナビスタ以外の上位馬は、後ろから行った3頭が1、3、4着という、典型的な前潰れのレースとなった。

勝ったドリームジャーニーにとっては会心のレースであった。自らが得意とするコーナーの多い右回りのコースで、これだけ展開に恵まれれば、まさに勝ってくださいと言わんばかり。スタートでの出遅れもなんのその、最後のコーナーで前の馬たちを一気に飲み込んだ。宝塚記念でピークに仕上げられ、天皇賞秋では完調手前だった体調が、ジャパンカップをパスしたことに加え、最後の追い切りでハードに追われたことで上向いていた。2歳時にマイルのG1レースを勝った馬が、5歳になって中距離の古馬G1レースを2つも勝つのだから、競馬は不思議である。父ステイゴールド、母父メジロマックイーンという遅咲きの血を大事に育てた関係者には、敬意を表したい。

池添謙一騎手は、追い込み馬に乗っても、常に落ち着いた手綱さばきを見せてくれる。スイープトウショウ、デュランダルなどに跨った経験が実になっているのだろう。池添謙一騎手のことだから、今回の有馬記念でも、レース前に自分を相当に追い込んだに違いない。追い込み馬に乗るジョッキーには我慢が求められる。行きたくても行かない、行けても行かない、我慢に我慢を重ねる精神力が必要である。そのために、あらゆる状況を何度も何度もイメージしたはずである。最も望んでいた形となり、ゴール後は緊張の糸がほどけて喜びの涙が溢れた。

負けて強しとはこういうレースのことを言うのだろう。この厳しいペースを自分から勝ちに行き、ドリームジャーニーに最後まで食い下がっているのだから、ブエナビスタは強い。結果的には、積極的に攻めたことが完全に裏目に出てしまった。それでも、これまでの牝馬らしいイメージを覆した、底力とスタミナに溢れる走りを見せてくれた。違った面を引き出せたことに関して言えば、実りの多いレースであったに違いない。競馬にはタラレバは禁物だが、もしこれまでのようにブエナビスタが後ろからレースを進めていたら、どんな結果になっていただろうか。

昨年と同じく3着に突っ込んだエアシェイディは、さすが高齢馬というべきか、周りの乱ペースに惑わされることなく、自らのリズムで走っていた。前に行った馬が勝手に潰れてくれた結果ではあるが、自身の力を出し切った。4着に入ったフォゲッタブルは、ルメール騎手の好判断が光った。周りの馬の状況を瞬時に察知する、レースに行っての頭の良さは素晴らしい。他の騎手が真似しようとしても真似できるものではない。フォゲッタブル自身も、この秋、最も力をつけた1頭だろう。菊花賞とステイヤーズSを2、1着と激走し、暮れの有馬記念まで走り切ったのだから、馬肥ゆる秋を見事に体現した。血統背景からも来年が楽しみな馬である。

これが引退レースとなったマツリダゴッホは、4コーナーであわやという見せ場を作った。切れる脚のない馬だけに、早めに動くしかなかったが、このペースを捲くり切るだけの力は残っていなかった。菊花賞馬スリーロールスは大変残念なことになってしまった。冬の時期だけにあり得ることとは分かっていても、悔やんでも悔やみきれない関係者の気持ちは察して余りある。競馬の陰の部分からも、私たちは決して目を背けてはならない。

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