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Five JRA horses to watch in 2023

Asian Racing Report’s JRA expert Homan has selected five horses poised to produce big things in Japan's elite races next season.

Who are the next heroes of the JRA? We have restricted our selections to horses who have yet to win a Group 1. That means no Equinox, Liberty Island or Stunning Rose. 

Instead, we have pulled together five horses that we think could find themselves with the tag ‘G1 winner’ next to their name in the next 12 months.

Namur 

Trainer: Tomokazu Takano

Takano has a deft touch with fillies and mares – Oka Sho/Japan Cup heroine Shonan Padora comes to mind – and while Namur might have been overshadowed by fellow three-year-old filly and stablemate Stunning Rose this season, she will get her turn in the limelight in 2023. 

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Namur has serious Group 1 potential. (Photo by JRA)

After winning the G2 Tulip Sho, Namur failed as favourite in the Oka Sho before finishing third in the Oaks and second to Stunning Rose in the Shuka Sho. 

She closed out the season with a fifth on unsuitable ground in a G1 Queen Elizabeth Cup that has since stacked up form-wise. Still lightly raced, look for Namur to show off her quality turn-of-foot in middle-distance and staying Group 1s.

Toshin Macau

Trainer: Mizuki Takayanagi

It took until the end of Toshin Macau’s three-year-old season for trainer Takayanagi to settle on sprints for the son of Big Arthur, but now that he is there, look out for the chestnut in the top sprint races over the next 12 months. 

His dominant G3 Keihan Hai win in late November was that of a horse heading places. 

Crown Pride

Trainer: Koichi Shintani

Given the name Crown Pride has already made for himself on the world stage, it is easy to forget he is still three. The UAE Derby winner showed his ability on the dirt at home this year by finishing second in the NAR’s G1 JBC Classic and then again in the G1 The Champions Cup. 

At four he will hit the road again, resuming in February’s Saudi Cup.

Damian Lane wins the UAE Derby on Crown Pride. (Photo by Mahmoud Khaled/Getty Images)

Danon Touchdown

Trainer: Takayuki Yasuda 

Danon Touchdown’s final 600m split of 35.1s in the in G1 Futurity Stakes was the fastest in the race (saddlecloth 12). 

His ability to settle back and then unleash a strong finishing burst make him one to watch in the Classics. Trainer Takayuki Yasuda of Lord Kanaloa-fame, has proven he can place a top level talent to advantage.

Dura 

Trainer: Yasuyuki Takahashi

Dura was sixth in the recent G1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies behind budding superstar Liberty Island but she blew the start and the race was on the short side for her anyway. 

As she steps up in trip, she looms as a worthy rival for Liberty Island in the three-year-old filly races. 

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