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With Deep Impact’s daughter Glint Of Hope aiming for a second Group One win in Saturday’s Queensland Oaks, Bren O’Brien takes a look at the late, great Japanese champion’s impact in Australia.
The legend of Deep Impact, the superstar Japanese racehorse turned champion stallion and breed shaper, has arguably become greater since his death three years ago, particularly as his influence has grown globally.
His daughter Glint Of Hope, one of the leading chances in Saturday’s Queensland Oaks, recently became his fifth individual Group One winner in Australia, a remarkable achievement given he has had fewer than 50 runners in the country.
In Japan he is a national treasure, much missed since his death in 2019. On the track, he won eight Group One races, including the Japanese Triple Crown and the Japan Cup and then doubled down on that with a stunning post-race career at Shadai Stallion Station.
He has produced 187 stakes winners from 1694 foals to race, with his progeny earning just short of AU$1 billion. Included among that collection is his remarkable record in the Tokyo Yushun, the Japanese Derby, a race he won himself in 2005 and which has seen seven of his sons victorious since. He has been Champion Sire of Japan for ten consecutive years and leads in the race to make it 11.
Such an imposing record, both home and abroad, on the track and in the barn has created an aura around Deep Impact that conjures an image of a giant of a thoroughbred, leaving his stamp on everything.
But like the 20th century’s most influential global stallion, Northern Dancer, Deep Impact’s physical size belied the myth that has grown up around him. He was 15.3 hh, which sits in contrast to a global era of largely big, powerful breed-shaping stallions.
Arrowfield Stud has been the pioneer when it comes to Japanese bloodlines in Australia and its long association with the Yoshida family, sparked by its desire to support Deep Impact’s own sire Sunday Silence, led to Arrowfield getting access to Deep Impact during his pomp.
Over four seasons it bred 16 foals to him, sending champion mares such as Alinghi, Miss Finland, Alverta and Stay With Me. Also among them was Honesty Prevails, a Group Three winning daughter of Redoute’s Choice.
The result was Profondo, a colt that not only topped the Magic Millions Yearling Sale when he sold for $1.9 million, but became Deep Impact’s first Australian-bred Group 1 winner when he won the Spring Champion Stakes at just his third start last October.
For Arrowfield Stud’s bloodstock manager Jon Freyer, the success of the somewhat diminutive Deep Impact as a stallion globally speaks to the differing approaches of Japanese and Australian breeders.
“He was not an imposing individual but certainly a great horse. It’s one of the mantras of the Japanese breeders and Shadai in particular, that how these horses perform on the racetrack is how they should be judged as stallion” he told Asian Racing Report.
“For us in Australia, it’s more of a beauty contest, but in their view, if a horse is a great horse, that’s what they ought to be seen as. They don’t take the fact he wasn’t a big horse too much into account.”
Breeding for a commercial Australian market, there were some considerations that Arrowfield needed to make in supporting Deep Impact, in terms of matching the right mares physically, but it backed in the quality of the sire to shine through.
“Putting our Australian hat on, we sent bigger, stronger, scopier mares, but it is often the way that the best race mares here have that type of physique anyway,” he said.
“They are the ones we bred and we got some super looking horses out of them. Profondo was the best of them. You wouldn’t find a nicer looking horse than him. He was a magnificent looking yearling and is a magnificent looking racehorse now.”
The fantastic looker Profondo. (Photo by Getty Images)
Other major Australian-based breeders to patronise Deep Impact included Waratah Thoroughbreds, Sheikh Khalifa, Go Bloodstock and John Camilleri’s Fairway Thoroughbreds, who sent Winx’s dam, Vegas Showgirl to him in 2018 producing the as yet unraced two-year-old City Of Lights.
But much of his progeny’s racetrack success in Australia has been from horses bred in Japan. Real Impact led the way with his victory in the 2015 George Ryder Stakes for trainer Noriyuki Hori, while Tosen Stardom and Fierce Impact did the job in Group One races for Australian trainers, having been purchased from overseas. All three of those have stood or are standing at stud in Australia.
“The success is not surprising, the Australian system is not unlike the Japanese system in many ways,” Freyer said. “Horses are made to gallop and they like hard tracks, so it’s no surprise that they would be well suited to how we race here as well.”
Glint Of Hope has followed a slightly different path. She was bred and foaled in Japan but arrived in Australia as a foal before being put through the 2020 Inglis Easter Yearling Sale.
Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young had whetted their appetite for Japanese bloodlines with the purchase of Tagaloa as a yearling, with that Lord Kanaloa colt developing into a Group One Blue Diamond Stakes winner and now a Yulong stallion.
It was through that connection that Busuttin said Glint Of Hope came to them soon after Asrun had paid $250,000 for her out of that Easter Sale.
Glint Of Hope as a yearling. (Photo by Bhima Thoroughbreds)
“One of the guys who was in Tagaloa, Jayven See, bought her and he had contact with Mr (Kazutaka) Hosaka, who then owned her and we were given the horse,” he said.
The Tagaloa experience gave the Cranbourne-based training partners confidence in the professionalism of the Japanese breed.
“As a rule they are straightforward horses. While she’s not an overly big filly, she eats really well and she cops her work,” he said.
“Tagaloa was very much the same. He did everything we needed him to and we’ve found they don’t have many vices and they are well bred from top stallions, so that tends to shine through.”
It’s clear Glint Of Hope has inherited a lot of her sire’s characteristics, including his stature.
“You get the impression from his reputation that he was this big powerful horse but he wasn’t like that himself. She obviously got some of his ability and it looks a nice race for her.” Busuttin said.
While he has utmost respect for the opposition on Saturday, naming Gypsy Goddess and Aravene as Glint Of Hope’s main Oaks rivals, Busuttin feels his filly has had a perfect preparation, despite a five-week break since she won the Australasian Oaks in South Australia.
It's been a rapid rise for Glint Of Hope since winning a maiden at Pakenham. (Photo by Getty Images)
So impressed was he by the Deep impact filly, Busuttin went back to buy a colt from the sire’s final crop at last year’s Easter Yearling Sale.
“We bought a colt out of Omei Sword, who was a stakes-winning two-year-old. We paid half a million for him from Arrowfield. We are just taking our time with him. He shows good ability. He’s been shinsore a couple of times.”
Named Muramasa, he will race in the colours of major stable supporter and Australia’s most successful owner of the past two years, Ozzie Kheir.
But on the advice of Arrowfield chairman, John Messara, the colt won’t be seeing a racetrack until the new racing season.
“I had a good chat with John Messara about the breed after we bought him from them and he knows more about them than anyone in Australian racing. He said don’t make the mistake of trying to race them as two-year-olds,” Busuttin said.
“You’ll ruin the horse if you do that. They often show ability as two-year olds and everyone gets carried away and wants to get them to the races. He’s a good man to take advice off, John, when it comes to these Japanese horses.”
It’s advice that stands in contrast to the prevailing desire for precocity in Australian racing, but when you are dealing with arguably some of the world’s best bred horses, it pays to be patient.
“Blood shines through,” Busuttin said. “It doesn’t get it right every time, but that quality always tends to prevail.”
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