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Japan Cup preview

Huge weekend of international racing and one of the first big global races was the Japan Cup. It may have been overshadowed a little by other international races and festivals, but it still attracts a premium field - especially of locals who rarely need to travel because the home prizemoney is so spectacular.

This year we have raiders from Australia (first time in over a decade), Germany and Ireland - can any of them overcome the strong home representation? For the preview, it's over to international racing aficionado Luke Humphreys, @WorldRacingLuke.


2017 Japan Cup
648,000,000 Yen  (approx AUD$7,636,000)
Race 11 - 1740 AEST, 0640 GMT
Longines Japan Cup 2400m
Group One
3yr old+

1: CHEVAL GRAND: Third in this last year and also second in the Spring version of the Tenno Sho earlier in the season. Returned well in a G2 race over 2400m at Kyoto last month when getting to the line well for third. Primed for this and Hugh Bowman rides.

2: REY DE ORO: The next Japanese superstar. Those four words have been said many times and more often than not, people are left disappointed but this guy is a genuine star! Only defeat came in the 2000 Guineas, when running in the race first-up without a trial. Then under one of the best rides you’ll ever see he won the Derby by a comfortable three quarters of a length under Christophe Lemaire. Then won a G2 over 2200m for 3YO’s, easily accounting for the subsequent St. Leger winner Kiseki by two lengths. This will only be start seven, and his first run against his elders, but has all the makings for a champion.

3: GUIGNOL: German raider prepared by Jean-Pierre Carvalho, who had Ivanhowe run sixth in 2014, after winning both the G1 Grosser Preis Von Baden and G1 Grosser Preis Von Bayern this season, as this horse has done, including beating the likes of Iquitos, Dschingis Secret and Waldgeist last time in Munich. Doubtful to win, can definitely finish first half of the field. Trainer also had Ito in the contest two years ago who finished distanced after getting way too fired up, won the G1 Grosser Preis Von Bayern prior.

4: KITASAN BLACK: Reigning horse of the year in Japan, and rightly so. Has won six G1 races under JRA conditions, which betters some of the Japanese greats of racing. Absolutely terrific win in the Autumn Tenno Sho last time, after missing the start, going up on the rail, where the track was a dog, and still holding them off. He completed the Tenno Sho Spring and Autumn double in the one season, only the fourth to do so. Seems to have come out of that gut buster perfectly fine, unlike the gut buster from the Spring Tenno Sho coming into the Takarazuka Kinen earlier in the season, won this last year, every chance for back to back wins under Yutaka Take.

5: SOUNDS OF EARTH: Very consistent but rarely wins these types of races. Fifth in 2015 and second last year to Kitasan Black. Been disappointing this season.
6: IQUITOS: Ran seventh in this last year, on Firm ground, when connections continued to say he would absolutely despise the ground, obviously he didn’t as he was a huge run. Form has been just as good this year, G1 winner over 2000m four back in the Grosser Dallmayr - Preis - Bayerisches Zuchtrennen and then subsequently second to Guignol twice in the Grosser Preis Von Baden and Bayern with a very game seventh in the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in between those runs. Can finish in a similar position to last year.

7: DECIPHER: Ran in this in 2014 when finishing 15th. Hasn’t won for nearly two years though, plugged on past beaten rivals in the Autumn Tenno Sho last time on the Soft/Heavy ground. Massive outsider.

8: SOUL STIRRING: One of the best-bred horses in the world being by Frankel from Stacelita. Brilliant Oaks winner that was beaten in the 1000 Guineas, due to the ground by slightly softer than ideal. Two defeats against her elders though, the excuses being the first time being first-up and the heavy ground last time. Should finish top five, Cristian Demuro rides with Christophe Lemaire on her more fancied stablemate.

9: RAINBOW LINE: Very good sixth in this last year and second to Satono Diamond in last year’s St. Leger. Third in the Autumn Tenno Sho last time behind Kitasan Black and Satono Crown, can finish in a similar position to last year.

10: BOOM TIME: Australian raider prepared by David Hayes, who trained the only Australian winner in Better Loosen Up in 1990, he also owns this one and that is the reason he came to Japan for this. Surprise winner of the G1 Caulfield Cup after having a perfect run. Then didn’t stay the 3200m in the G1 Melbourne Cup. Give him absolutely no chance at all, especially under WFA conditions, but great to see him trying his luck with Cory Parish in the saddle. First Australian runner in the country since Scenic Blast bombed out in the 2009 G1 Sprinters Stakes and first runner in this race since Fields Of Omagh bombed out in 2004. Likely to be up in the first half of the field.

11: MAKAHIKI: Former Japanese Derby winner that is very well known to the Europeans as he went off close to favourite in last year’s G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and bombed out. Has only been fair since although savaged the line last time in the Autumn Tenno Sho on the heavy ground. The report is from connections is that he is apparently back to his best, if so, one of the obvious chances.

12: SATONO CROWN: G1 winner of the Hong Kong Vase last year over Highland Reel and then the Takarazuka Kinen this season, great return when just denied by Kitasan Black in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) last time. One of the key players.

13: SCIACCHETRA: Failed to handle the Heavy ground last time, fourth in the Takarazuka Kinen before that. Good horse but place very best hope here.

14: IDAHO: The best of the four international runners, when at his best, which hasn’t been once this outside, excluding his two runs at Ascot. Full brother to the mighty Highland Reel, will quickly mention disappointing in my opinion he never gave the Japan Cup a crack in his career. Ryan Moore takes the ride which is obviously good but in ways bad as he has never ridden him to victory, Joseph O’Brien once, Seamie Heffernan twice, maybe they should’ve brought Heffernan over as he seems to get along with this horse much better? He can win if running to his best, but doesn’t do that very often. Hit or miss. A third runner in the race for Aidan O’Brien, Powerscourt 10th in 2004 and Joshua Tree 10th in 2010. This is arguably his best chance.

15: ONE AND ONLY: Japanese Derby winner of 2014. Lovely looking horse but nowhere near his best for a long time. Seventh in 2014, seventh in 2015, eighth in 2016, would be surprised if he got that close in his fourth consecutive run in the race.

16: YAMAKATSU ACE: G2 winner at the start of the year that was a subsequent G1 third to Kitasan Black and Staphanos. Bit disappointing since.

17: LAST IMPACT: Narrow second in this two years ago under a rails hugging ride from Ryan Moore, 10th last year. Actually ran on dirt twice earlier in the year, not in his best form, although he wasn’t bad last start. Should finish similar to last year, third consecutive run in the race.

Whilst there seems to be a new one every month there is every chance (2) REY DE ORO could be the next Japanese champion. Brilliant Derby winner and beat the subsequent St. Leger winner very easily last time. Look out Enable next October. (4) KITASAN BLACK proved himself to be a true champion of the Japanese turf last time with a gutsy win and can go back to back. (12) SATONO CROWN has been in career best form for the last 12 months. Big risk putting (14) IDAHO in the selections but if he ran to his best he could win. (10) BOOM TIME, (1) CHEVAL GRAND, (3) GUIGNOL, (6) IQUITOS, (11) MAKAHIKI and (8) SOUL STIRRING are all Each-Way to Place chances and ones to include in multiples in no particular order.

Click the following link for the record of overseas horses in this particular race.



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