Black Day For Cup Rivals
This afternoon’s 36th running of the time honoured Japan Cup at Fuchi racecourse in Tokyo has assembled an outstanding line up of local and international stayers.
Regarded as one of the toughest 2400m staying tests in the world, early betting on the Japan Tote suggests 2016 G1 Tenno Sho (Spring) winner Kitasan Black is the horse to beat ahead of Ryan Moore’s mount Real Steel .
And Timeform ratings also have a leaning towards Kitasan Black in what looks to be an even race to assess on figures.
Renowned for his bold front running style of racing, Kitasan Black has built an impressive record in just 12 career starts to date, especially this season in his four-years-old season where he has raced just four times. Apart from the Tenno Sho (spring), he has also pocketed the G2 Kyoto Daishoten and finished third in the G1 Takarazzuka Kinen.
At three, Kitasan Black was a late bloomer but showed good form in the spring winning the G1 Japanese St Leger (3000m) before taking on older horses in the G1 Arima Kinen (2500m) running third to Gold Actor and Sounds Of Earth, beating home the Japanese Derby winner Marialite.
This season he has continued an upward spiral in his Timeform ratings profile and is primed for another strong run.
Trainer Hisashi Shimizu has tried to encourage Kitasan Black to settle better in his races using different track work strategies which seems to have paid off in the Daishoten.
“He’d been racing in the lead a lot recently, so I was hoping he would not get upset, and as I had hoped, the jockey held him back very gently, very carefully and did a real good job of keeping him calm,” said Shimizu.
“It was a much stronger win than his winning margin of a neck would indicate and a very good start to his fall campaign. His fast work last week was the usual, running in tandem with him catching and passing the other horse. I haven’t changed his training at all. I just regulate the intensity of it.”
Kitasan Black had not raced for over three months coming into the Daishoten so it is reasonable to assume he will take further improvement from the win.
Real Steel is an interesting runner with proven form against quality international runners.
During 2016, trainer Yoshito Yahagi to date has restricted his races to 2000m and shorter but with excellent results, winning the G1Duty Free Stakes (1800m) on Dubai World Cup night then last start running classy Maurice to a neck in the G1 Tenno Sho (Autumn) over 2000m.
But it was his last run that sets him up nicely for today’s assignment. Trapped four wide without cover for almost the entire race, Real Steel knuckled down to the task in the home straight to power home late. It looked like a run from the horse that will appreciate further.
And the fact that Real Steel now gets out to 2400m for the first time this season seems like a positive switch.
It is worth noting that at three, Real Steel was narrowly beaten by Kitasan Black in the Japanese St Leger and finished a close up fourth in the Japanese Derby behind the smart Duramente.
Those form lines and ratings well and truly keep him in the frame this afternoon and champion rider Ryan Moore again takes the reins – the pair having previously combined for success in Dubai.
Gold Actor from the Tadashige Nakagawa stable rounds out the main winning chances in a tough race.
This son of Screen Hero has built an impressive record of nine wins from 16 starts with successes in the 2015 G1 Arima Kinen, (2500m), 2016 G2 All Comers Stakes (2200m) and 2016 G2 Nikkei Sho (2500m). He was also third in the 2014 Japanese St Leger at three.
Gold Actor has raced just three times this year and comes off a solid victory in the All Comers Stakes at Nakayama which prepares him nicely for today.
Fame Game is a horse well known to the Australian punters but he has been largely disappointing in four runs since returning home after being unplaced in Prince Of Penzance’s 2015 Melbourne Cup, a second in the G2 Diamond Stakes over 3400m at Tokyo being the only glimpse of any form.
However Fame Game was gelded prior to his last run and according to his trainer now has a renewed zest for racing, something he showed a sign of last start when a solid fifth in the Copa Republica Argentina over 2500m at Tokyo.
While better suited over longer than today’s 2400m, if the race unfolds to his advantage, Fame Game could easily upset.
So could Rouge Buck who became the first filly in 23 years to win the G2 Mainichi Okan Stakes over 1800m before a solid seventh behind Maurice in the G1 Tenno Sho.
French galloper Erupt is back for another attempt at winning the Cup. Luckless last year when a relatively immature three-year-old, Erupt is back a much stronger galloper and according to his Timeform ratings profile a superior galloper.
Up and coming French trainer Francis Graffard has Erupt in top shape for the race but the threat of wet weather late in the day is of concern to the young French handler.
Erupt comes into the race on the back of a strong win in Canada in the G1 Woodbine International over 2400 where he disposed of Hardwicke Stakes winner Dartmouth. And that form line ties in with Highland Reel so if the ground does not become rain affected Erupt could easily be in the finish.
Enjoy a great race.
|R11 TOKYO||27 November 2016|
|THE JAPAN CUP in association with LONGINES 3U , 2400m|
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