Tag Archives: Japan Cup

The Japan Cup (Grade 1)

Trading Leather running third to The Fugue and Al Kazeem in the 2013 Irish Champion Stakes

Trading Leather running third to The Fugue and Al Kazeem in the 2013 Irish Champion Stakes

The last foreign trained winner of the Japan Cup was Luca Cumani’s Alkaased in 2005.

The last, and only, Irish trained winner was Frank Dunne’s Stanerra back in 1983. This year Jim Bolger has sent Trading Leather to bridge the 31 year gap.

Trading Leather’s last win was the Irish Derby last year. He hasn’t seen the winners enclosure since notching up a seven race losing sequence in the process. That and the draw position of 18 (widest of all) are the negatives that the Godolphin owned colt has to overcome.

Let’s concentrate on the positives.

Second to Novellist in the King George after the Irish Derby success, second to Declaration Of War in the International at York next time out and in his last run as a three old, third to the Fugue in the Irish Champion Stakes.

That’s defeat at the hands of three of the best in Europe over the last decade. Novellist was shudderingly brilliant that day at Ascot and would have gone off favourite for the Arc had injury not curtailed his career. Declaration Of War fought out that marvellous battle up the Santa Anita home straight in the Breeders Cup Classic when beaten a nose and a head by Mucho Macho Man and Will Take Charge. The Fugue followed up the Irish Champion Stakes in spectacular style when winning at Royal Ascot in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes this year.

As a four year old the son of Telfilo returned to the racecourse at Group 2 level in May when contesting the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket. He was turned over as an odds on shot by Gospel Choir and Pether’s Moon. The winner, Gospel Choir only had one more run, two weeks later when beating Tac De Boistron in the Yorkshire Cup, again a Group 2. Tac De Boistron then didn’t run until October when he won the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak (French St Leger) in October.

Naturally Trading Leather’s trainer Jim Bolger only pitched him at the highest level since.

Next time out he ran second in the Coral Eclipse to Mukhadram. He then ran fifth to Taghrooda in the King George and third to the Grey Gatsby in this years Irish Champion Stakes. You could well argue this form isn’t as strong as last year’s but consider that last time out only Australia and The Grey Gatsby were ahead of him. When viewed in the context of this challenge that’s still very strong form.

Of course he’ll have to beat the home team headed by Gentildonna (going for a never done before, third straight victory) in the race, Just A Way and Harp Star plus Germany’s Ivanhowe.

Gentildonna will renew her partnership with Ryan Moore who won on her at Meydan in March beating Cirrus Des Aigles in the Sheema Classic. She’s run twice since beaten both times though second last time in a prep for this could well mean she’s back to her best.

Just A Way, Harp Star and Ivanhowe all ran in the Arc. Neither Japanese horses got in a blow however it must be remembered Just A Way was the most impressive winner of the Dubai Duty Free in March while Harp Star who loves to come from behind was given a mammoth task by her jockey in the Arc and if ridden closer to the pace can be seen at her best. Ivanhowe was way down the field in Paris did beat Sea The Moon in a G1 in the summer and after the Arc won another in Munich at the start of the month.

It’s a big ask to travel halfway across the world to win Japan’s major all age race.

Can he do it?

When you consider the opposition, top class proven international performers and then the draw, virtually in the carpark, you’d be inclined to think no.

Then you think Gentildonna won from stall 15 in 2012 so maybe the draw isn’t a killer. Then you wonder about the current form of the home team, say to yourself that if Trading Leather ran in this year’s Arc would he have done better than Harp Star and Just A Way, probably. Then factor in that Gentildonna has lost those last two runs.

Then consider that Trading Leather is running over his best trip, on his favoured ground, which he hasn’t encountered this year and consider the shrewdness of his trainer then the picture looks different.

You would have to conclude that Trading Leather has a real good chance of belying his 20/1 odds offered at the moment. If you are going to back him best not to be tempted to take that price, instead put PMU on your docket thereby taking the local odds as it’s hardly lightly the Tokyo public will steam into him and you just might end up with a more juicy return than that offered at the moment.

Recommendation: Trading Leather EW (PMU Price)




The Japan Cup (Group 1)

The Japan Cup is the top class premier middle distance race for older horses in Japan.  It’s the east’s version of the King George or the Arc but wrapped into one. The early years of the race were dominated by international raiders whose superior breeding gave them a strong edge.

Not so now as Japan’s home breds are up there with the very best in the world. The king in the breeding barn is undoubtably Deep Impact the 2006 winner of the race. He’s represented by three offspring Verxina, Demon and Ruby and the likely favourite and defending champion Gentildonna who’ll be partnered by Ryan Moore.

Gentildonna beat Orfevre a nose in winning last year and has run three times since getting beat in all. In March she went down 2 1/4 L to St Nicholas Abbey in the Sheema Classic at Meydan. In June back on home turf at Hanshin she ran third off a wide draw going down to 3 1/2 L to Gold Ship in the Takarazuka Kinen and in October in prep for this over 10 f in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) she found Just A Way 4 L too good.

Her conquerer at Hanshin Gold Ship will rival her closley in the market. This colt last year as a three year old won the Japanese version of the the Guineas, the Satsuki Sho and also the St Leger, the Kikuka Sho.

Of the other home team Eishin Flash third in this year’s Tenno Sho (having previously beaten the winner) and the 2012 Tenno Sho winner Tosen Jordan need to be considered.

Three Europeans travel. Marco Botti sends Joshua Tree on the back of defending his Canadian International over this trip at Woodbine in October. With Ryan committed to Gentildonna this year’s Mr Confidence Johnny Murtagh comes in for the ride.

Dunaden and Simenon take the scenic route home from the Melbourne Cup.

Dunaden Melbourne Cup winner of 2011 looks to have had his best days behind him. His early season form was very promising, third at Epsom in the Coronation Cup behind St Nicholas Abbey. He followed that up with a second in the Grand Prix De Saint Cloud to the King George winner Novellist however his Prix Foy run and Melbourne Cup leave him wanting to find top level form again.

Simenson who again will have Richard Hughes in the plate has been a revelation this year running second in the Ascot Gold Cup and although the drop in trip here would suggest this would be too sharp he did run a cracker before the Melbourne Cup when running third to Sea Moon at Caufield over 12 f.

There’s negatives to all here. The top Japanese haven’t come with top recent form. That doesn’t mean that Gentildonna hasn’t been primed for this and next month’s equally important Arima Kinen. Gold Ship equally has been hit and miss this year. Two of the Europeans had as their primary season target their last race, the Melbourne Cup and while it would be unfair to say this is an after thought it is definitely a bonus.

The one coming here with the positive is Joshua Tree, a winner of his last race he has the benefit of Johnny Murtagh whose been riding big races like the best pound for pound boxer in the world.

One of those top flight successes was Chiquita in the Irish Oaks who went through the ring at Goff’s yesterday for a European record of €6 million. The seller Paul Makin should recall in gratitude how she violently veered to the left in the final furlong. That was no bother to the pilot who still saw her home in his ice cool manner. Don’t be surprised if he does it again on Joshua Tree whom incidentally he rode to win his first ever race back in the day when both were Ballydoyle inmates.

Recommendation: Joshua Tree 16/1 ew

The Japan Cup (Group 1)

Eastern promise meet western appeal.

Seventeen go to post including five Europeans in chase of one of the biggest pots in world racing with the winner pocketing £2.1m. It’s packed with intrigue especially around the rematch of Solemia and Orfevre, the one two in the Arc.

You would have to say the Japanese horse looked the best on the day cruising to the lead in real easy style only to throw it away by hanging over the rail. He’s a Japanese triple crown winner and also a Arima Kinen winner to boot, the first occasion he met his elders. He is Japans best horse and now holds the nation’s heart much like Buena Vista did before bowing out by winning this last year. However the Arc was not the first time he displayed quirkiness having tried to run out 4f from home in a Group 2 in March. He was very nearly pulled up before remarkably coming back to run second adding to the sense his enormous talent cannot be relied upon.

Solemia was a surprise winner in the Arc. She got much the run of the race loving the testing ground and did well to take advantage of the Japanese colt’s quirkiness. She had beaten Shareta on G/S in the Prix Corrida in May and was in need of the run when third in the Prix Vermille (overturned by Shareta). The intrigue comes from a filly on the improve at this time of year but can she handle this firm ground?

Jakkalberry, Red Cadeaux and Mount Athos extend their round the world air miles having all competed in the Melbourne Cup. The best on the day was Marco Botti’s Jakkalberry who was given an enterprising ride by Colm O’Donoghue to come third. In a race run at a crawl most jockeys were caught out and in Mount Athos’s case this was especially true. Ryan Moore did come with big run down the outside but unfortunately had left far too much to do. Strange that considering it was a race over two miles. It’s unlikely he’ll leave it as late this time but over a mile and half and out of handicap company it also unlikely Mount Athos will have the gears to cope with the opposition here. The same can be said for Red Cadeaux who hasn’t looked the horse he was last year when going down a nose to Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup and a length and a half in the Hong Kong Vase.

The other European runner is Roger Varian’s Sir Putra. He has only won six times in twenty four runs and never at top level. His latest victory was in the York Stakes (G2) in July over 10f. He went back for the Juddmonte in August where he didn’t feature acting mulishly on the day. In his favor is the ground as he’ll a lover of the firm. Against him is the trip, he hasn’t been extended to 12f for two years since finishing second in the Bosphorus Cup in Turkey.

Of the other hometeam Patrice “Starcraft” Lemaire gets the leg up on Eishin Flash, the Tenno Sho winner while Tosen Jordan (second in this last year to Beuna Vista) will have Christophe Soumillon aboard. Gentildonna catches the eye, a winner of five from six including a 1000 Guineas and Oaks. She’s beaten the same filly Verxina on the four occasions.

Will Orferve come as he did in the Arc but this time see it out? Probably but at 2/1 he’s pretty short. Maybe a pari mutual bet on Sir Putra could pay dividends. With ground to his liking and being a proven traveller if the change of scenery can overcome his moodiness then he may give a big run with a price to match.

Recommendation : Sir Putra E/W (Pari Mutual)

The King George VI And Queen Elizebeth Stakes (Group 1)

The centrepiece of the European Pattern racing season is upon us. Would you believe the first half is over. It safe to say that Aidan O’Brien dominated the game from the beginning but a late sustained comeback from John Gosden has set up a fascinating second half. An early score here at Ascot for the Newmarket team will set up a pulsating finish but a Ballydoyle strike may close out the season long before the end.

Again the absence of the Azores high (please come back) means more soft ground. Will we ever see a decent surface again?

Tipperary might be a long way from Ascot but here last year 4 L was the distance that separated Nathaniel and St Nicholas Abbey. A lot has been made this week about St Nick handling a right handed track but this was not an issue last year. The issue then was pace, none early, then muddling. It didn’t suit him and when Nathaniel and Workforce went for home he was caught for toe. A pacemaker this year in Robin Hood means no repeat of that particular dose. St Nick has had six runs since this time last year capturing a Breeders Cup Turf and adding another Coronation Cup to the one he won last year. Nathaniel has only had the two runs, fifth in the Champion Stakes last backend and a win in the Eclipse two weeks ago. The performance at Sandown was stylish. He dominated and when Farrah came to challenge he always had plenty left.

Sea Moon beaten 2 1/4 L by St Nick in the Breeders Cup race has also looked classy this term. At Goodwood he accounted for Dandino with a head to spare and then went on to win the Hardwicke (surely should be upgraded to Group 1) beating Dunaden by 3 1/4 L.

The French horse has a bit to prove since winning the Melbourne Cup and Hong Kong Cup. He hasn’t troubled the judge in his three runs since. He didn’t get a clear run in the Hardwicke and would have got closer had he got some luck in running. Previously no pace beat him at Chantilly and it was a similar situation in the Jockey Club at Newmarket in May.

Danedream produced a stunning Arc victory last year in record time beating a top class field. She went east for the Japan Cup but a combination of a wide draw and an early bump were enough to knock her off her stride (finished sixth). She won a Group 2 on her comeback at home in Baden Baden before disappointing in the Grand Prix De Saint Cloud, a race again run slowly that turned into a sprint. She didn’t show the turn of foot she did in the Arc when she quickened off a fast pace. Even splits here will suit her better.

Brown Panther has been given a nice confidence booster with a 7 L win in a Pontefract Listed race having shown himself capable of mixing with them in the Ledger last year. His conqueror that day was John Gosden’s second string here Masked Marvel. He couldn’t cope with St Nick last time at Epsom. Reliable Man winner of the Prix Du Jockey Club and Prix Neil last year put up a good show behind So You Think in the Prince Of Wales ( picked up to run fourth beaten 3 L) and will like this ground.

Deep Brillante is a first runner in the King George for Japan. It’s great to see a horse come from the east. His connections sacrifice cash in favour of prestige. In winning the Japanese Derby he took home a cheque for £1.5m, nearly three times the win money here. Should he win he’ll be a national hero. We can’t judge the form but what we can say is that he did the mile and a half in Tokyo in a time 10 seconds quicker than Camelot did when winning at Epsom, albeit on firm ground. He also benefits from carrying the lightest weight as the only three year old in the race.

In the centrepiece pace should be even with Robin Hood and Masked Marvel expected to stretch stamina. It’l be set to wind up the runs of St Nicholas Abbey and Nathaniel. Sea Moon will try to stay with them and the three will run evenly nip and tuck to the line. With the pace even all three are venerable, finishers such as Dunaden and Deep Brillante might possess toe at the close but that toe might not be enough. The centerpiece needs a centrefold.

My blood runs cold, my Danedream is the centrefold. Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na .

Recommendation Danedream 10/1 ew