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)