He emphasised this on the three-day weekend of October 7, 8 and 9 when he picked up seven wins during that period to mow down a five-win deficit, emerging with 123 wins for the term and a narrow lead over Kawada.
Lemaire has already had about 100 rides more than Kawada and it will be enthralling to see which approach wins out as these two exceptional jockeys compete for supremacy.
But there’s actually more to it than that; Kawada’s victory last year was one for Japanese self-confidence, and, should he win again, it would give further belief to the JRA’s local riders that they more than deserve to be in the Group 1 mix with the best of the expats and the foreign visitors.
2. The next big thing
This is the time of year when the two-year-old pecking order is established, with the spring Classics very much the focus.
Japanese racing takes a patient, long-term approach to developing its stars, being the healthy antithesis of the commercial lust for speedy precocity that is so prevalent in the US, Britain, and especially Australia. The JRA stages three Group 1 races for juveniles and all are in December, at distances of a mile and 2000 metres: the Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, the Asahi Hai Futurity, and the Hopeful Stakes.
That being so, Japan’s first two-year-old Group 2 race is not even held until November, when there are three: the 1400m Keio Hai Nisai Stakes (November 4), the 1600m Daily Hai Nisai Stakes (November 11), and the 1800m Tokyo Sports Hai Nisai Stakes (November 18).
The recent G3 Saudi Arabia Royal Cup at Tokyo could be a pointer to the December juvenile G1 races after the colt Gonbade Qabus impressed in defeating the highly-touted filly Bond Girl and the wide-margin debut winner Strauss.
Fellow G3 winners Set Up and Ascoli Piceno are also worth keeping an eye on, as is the Aster Sho winner Catfight.
But so too are the untapped ‘Newcomer’ and maiden winners like Danon McKinley, Forlanini, Admire Belle, Jantar Mantar, and the white colt Amante Bianco, to name just a few. It’s a world of possibilities for these young hopefuls as they head deeper into autumn.