2019 Japan Cup – Sun Nov 24 at 06:40 GB time

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    “Sunday’s race, with no one standout, is considered to be wide open, and nominated to take on the 2,400-meter turf event are 16 Japan-based horses ranging in age from 3 to 7. They include six Grade 1 winners, among them three Grade 1 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winners, as well as two 3-year-old fillies considered good enough to take on the boys.

    Almond Eye, who captured the Japan Cup last year in record time, has passed on a second run this year and is instead aimed at Hong Kong, while 2018 runnerup Kiseki has returned from France but is likely headed for the Grade 1 Arima Kinen (The Grand Prix) at yearend. However, three others who ran last year that are back for another go are – Suave Richard, Cheval Grand and Win Tenderness.

    Although there will be no international horses competing this year, there will be plenty of international flavor with the jockeys expected to ride in the race. Nearly half of the jockeys expected to ride hail from outside Japan, including Englishman Ryan Moore, Oisin Murphy from Ireland, Belgian Christophe Soumillon, Norwegian-born William Buick, and the iconic Lanfranco “Frankie” Dettori……”

    preview continues:

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    I remember when this used to be one of the most looked forward to races of the year. Some of Europe’s and America’s finest used to take up the challenge. But alas in recent years there’s only been a few token entries and this year none at all…It’s not because of the prize money on offer – I think it’s the second most lucrative race in the world. It’s probably the Tokyo racetrack – it’s a beast. Enable, Waldgeist etc. are outstanding horses but they wouldn’t stand a chance at Tokyo.

    I’ll be at the track on Sunday anyways. But many of Japan’s best horses won’t be. The Hong Kong races promise to be much more exciting.

    I’ll probably include Wagnerian in most of my wagers on Sunday. Very reliable if unspectacular performer.

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    the course attendance stats agree with your recollection – from 1989-1999 each year they hovered around 150,000; since then its nearer 100,000. (see p.8 of below link).

    but its not for want of trying by the JRA. they have produced a marvellous 84-page press pack for the race:


    and at Oct 11, they did have 27 overseas nominations


    ….which then all fell away.

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    Frankie has today been given short-term licence from Nov 23 – Dec 2:

    basic JRA cards / PMU odds for Sat/Sun now out:

    HKJC will be simulcasting 7 races on Sunday, so detailed pdf form (and subsequent video replays) up soon here:

    Venture to CognacVenture to Cognac
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    Wit, usual stab in the dark from me. I’ll go with Jinambo at around 40’s EW

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    HKJC overseas expert Naohiro Goda [written before going on Sat described as Soft, Rainy [GB:heavy]:

    The 39th running of G1 Japan Cup does not include any international challenger. It is the first time for the icon of horse racing in Japan, which was inaugurated in 1981 as the first international race taken place in Japan, to carry no international flavor.

    It is obvious that the connections of top class 2,000m to 2,400m horses prefer to run in the G1 Hong Kong Cup or the G1 Hong Kong Vase two weeks later at Sha Tin. All of runners in the field are Japanese-trained horses, though, it has depth, for example there are three Tokyo Yushun winners, and I am sure it is exciting renewal.

    My first pick is CHEVAL GRAND, winner of this race in 2017. The 7YO horse had European campaign this summer, after finishing second in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March, and failed to get results expected. However, there are excuses. The ground was too soft when he finished sixth in the G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. And there was no pace at all and the distance was too short when he finished eighth in the G1 International Stakes at York. Tokyo is his favourite track, where he won two races and finished within first four at all four starts so far. And it is very encouraging factor that Christophe Soumillon is booked for him. Soumillon has won the Japan Cup in 2014, ridding EPIPHANEIA, and we have just seen his excellent riding performance on 10th November at Kyoto where he won the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, riding LUCKY LILAC.

    My second choice is SUAVE RICHARD, another HEART’S CRY horse in the field. Though he has won the G1 Osaka Hai over 2,000m at Hanshin, where is clockwise track, I believe 2,400m is more suitable for him and he handles anticlockwise track better. In fact, he ran well in last year’s Japan Cup, finishing third, where CHEVAL GRAND was a quarter of length behind him. And as like CHEVAL GRAND, it is encouraging factor that Oisin Murphy, current season’s Champion jockey in Britain, is booked for him on Sunday.

    It is remarkable statistic that six out of last ten running of Japan Cup were won by fillies or mares. Though it might be too early to compare CURREN BOUQUETD’OR with the those fillies or mares who won Japan Cup, such as VODKA, BUENA VISTA, GENTILDONNA and ALMOND EYE, I believe the 3YO filly by DEEP IMPACT is talented horse. She was narrowly beaten second in the G1 Yushun Himba, over the same course and distance as Japan Cup. After finishing second again in the G1 Shuka Sho, she skipped the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, for fillies and mares, on 10th November at Kyoto, and is heading to run Japan Cup instead. She is my third choice.

    WAGNERIAN is the G1 Tokyo Yushun winner in 2018, and the lightly-raced 4YO colt by DEEP IMPACT finished fifth in the G1 Tenno Sho Autumn last time out. It was not bad effort, and extra 400m should help him to perform better on Sunday. He is my fourth choice.

    Recent form of REY DE ORO is not very good, however, he is the winner of the G1 Tokyo Yushun in 2017 and the G1 Tenno Sho Autumn in 2018, both of which took place at Tokyo, and I think we should not neglect him. The 5YO horse ridden by William Buick is my fifth choice.


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    Bold prediction by Goda-san, but I like it. I’m still keying Wagnerian but I have Suave, Rey, Cheval as well as Look Twice and Etario in a trio formation. It’s still raining here but it should stop by early morning, after which the sun may make an appearance. How fast the course dries out could be a big factor. Doesn’t seem to be much interest in this race overseas but good luck to all those playing.

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    Oisin takes it with run up the rail on Suave Richard.

    for video and result click on second photo here:

    full JRA report to come.

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    Third favorite Suave Richard claimed this year’s Japan Cup while capturing his much awaited second G1 title since his Osaka Hai victory last year and has now collected five grade-race titles. After the Osaka Hai, he marked four third-place finishes—the Yasuda Kinen (1,600m) and the Japan Cup last year, along with the Dubai Sheema Classic (2,410m) and the Takarazuka Kinen (2,200m) earlier this season. The five-year-old bounced back remarkably today from his recent Tenno Sho (Autumn) (G1, 2,000m) start in which he was seventh.

    For trainer Yasushi Shono, this is his second JRA-G1 title following the Osaka Hai victory with Suave Richard and jockey Oisin Murphy, who is riding under a short-term license, has now landed his first G1 and second graded victory following the G3 Negishi Stakes he claimed in January this year.

    The 15-horse field broke in front of the stands on the soggy track with Daiwa Cagney, Danburite and Win Tenderness disputing for the lead. Apart from four horses trailing far behind, the leading group was tightly bunched up cruising down the backstretch with Suave Richard relaxed in seventh to eighth, four to five lengths from the pace on the rails.

    As the field fanned out at the top of the stretch, Suave Richard kicked into gear surging through an opening near the rails, inherited the lead from the tiring frontrunner before the furlong marker and dueled briefly with the strong challenge of Curren Bouquetd’or. However, the chestnut easily pulled away, showing a stronger drive to the wire to notch a 3/4-length win.


    [Jockey: Oisin Murphy] “I suppose it’s a dream come true to have won this race. I was happy with Suave Richard in his gallops and he felt brilliant—Japan Cup is one of the most famous races around the world and it’s very hard to win so I wasn’t confident but very hopeful. Suave Richard has got a lot of quality, he’s a very good mover with a lot of pace—if you’ve seen his gallops he does incredible times.

    As for race plans, first of all I looked at the draw and I saw that Curren Bouquetd’or was in one—she’s a very good filly—Wagnerian was in two, (Christophe) Lemaire was in four and Yasunori Iwata was in six. So all the good horses, in my mind, were around me….it was about getting behind one of them, following the right one, getting the horse to relax, and then give him every chance. (As a result) I was following Curren Bouquetd’or—she was the one travelling as well as me, turning into the straight and she had a very good trip (she is trained by my trainer, Sakae Kunieda, maybe if I was not so fat I could do 53 kilos and rode her and might not have won the Japan Cup today (laugh)).

    Suave Richard has a lot of quality and I was very happy with my positioning into the first turn. The most important thing was for him to relax. The ground was hard work today and when the ground is slow, you can’t waste energy. (At the straight) I had the option of forcing Curren Bouquetd’or out –that would have taken a bit of energy but he’s a big enough horse to do that—but then I saw the inside open, it was easier to go the shortest way. I knew in the last 200 meters that Suave Richard would win. On this ground, horses get very tired and so I just wanted him to keep on going and after a big race it’s very hard to immediately understand how important it is, but sure the Japan Cup for me is one of the best races in the world and I won’t sleep for a week. It’s a big relief (to have won my first big title here in Japan) as I want to win group ones all over the world, and it’s…super.

    Japanese horses are my friends and I hope they will be my friends for many years to come. The quality in Japan is really high and the world stage will be hearing a lot more about Japanese horses. I would love to win many more G1’s in Japan but it’s very hard to win—I rode in the Epsom Derby when I was 18 but I didn’t win my first G1 until I think I was 21 or 22.”


    sporting sam
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    What a great ride Murphy gave the winner.
    I know it might be easy to give an interview when winning, but he gives such an excellent insight and puts you right there.
    Thank you Wit.

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    I was privileged as a British racegoer to be present at Tokyo racecourse to see Oisin ride a brilliant race, moving up along the rail with less than a furlong to go to seize victory on a very talented horse – which I am glad to say I backed!
    We all know Oisin is a brilliant rider, but this was his biggest win and makes him a real star for his few weeks in Japan.
    As for Tokyo racecourse, it’s right up there with the likes of Santa Anita, as one of the best tracks to visit and watch very good racing.
    I know it’s a long way from the UK, but if you can, go there.
    And if you’re able, go to Kranji where two weeks ago I was at the Singapore Gold Cup.

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    “Japanese horses are my friends…” Such a delightful young man. Hopefully he will ride Suave Richard again in December in the season-ending Arima Kinen.

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