Heat is off Danon Tornado in the Kikuka Sho

The Nakauchida stable is hunting further Classic success on Sunday, plus the latest on Prognosis, Serifos and a two-year-old with big potential.

Danon Tornado, a high-priced yearling out of the G1 Golden Slipper winner She Will Reign. (Photo by daiwa_major_14)

David Morgan

Chief Journalist


One week on from Liberty Island’s triumph as hot favourite in the G1 Shuka Sho, the star filly’s trainer Mitsu Nakauchida is pinning his hopes on longshot Danon Tornado to bring home the season’s final Classic, the G1 Kikuka Sho.

The Heart’s Cry colt will face the Classic winners Sol Oriens (G1 Satsuki Sho) and Tastiera (G1 Tokyo Yushun) at Kyoto this weekend, and must bounce back from a well-beaten eighth behind the reopposing Durezza at Niigata in mid-August.

But the trainer believes that last run – the fifth of his career – should be forgiven. Instead, Nakauchida is looking back to the race prior, the G2 Kyoto Shimbun Hai in early May, in which Danon Tornado was a neck second to Sunday’s probable third pick in the market, the recent G2 Kobe Shimbun Hai scorer Satono Glanz.

“Last race, you can totally forget about it because he couldn’t cope with the heat, so he wasn’t able to perform at all. He’s back in good form and it’s a much better climate at the moment, it’s started to feel like autumn, which is better for the horses,” Nakauchida told Asian Racing Report.


The JRA’s 2021 champion trainer is hopeful that the extra distance of the 3000-metre Kikuka Sho, and further maturity, will bring Danon Tornado into the mix.

“Looking at his form, he was beaten by a good horse in the Kyoto Shimbun Hai, only beaten by a small margin, and the winner won again this autumn. That form shows that he is up to the standard, that he should be good enough to compete in Group 1 company.”

Saturday sees the G2 Fuji Stakes take centre stage at Tokyo, but last year’s winner Serifos – a possible contender for December’s G1 Hong Kong Mile – will not be in the line-up. The race had been Nakauchida’s preferred aim for the G1 Mile Championship hero after he ran second in the G1 Yasuda Kinen back in June, but the four-year-old struggled with Japan’s particularly intense and prolonged summer heat this year.

“After he came back from Hokkaido, when he arrived at the pre-training centre near Ritto, he couldn’t cope with the heat and humidity and had kind of a setback with that, so we skipped the Fuji Stakes and we are aiming for the Mile Championship. We’ll go there directly,” Nakauchida said.

Serifos and Damian Lane win the 2022 G1 Mile Championship. (Photo by JRA)

As for the upcoming G1 Tenno Sho Autumn on October 29, the trainer reported his stable’s candidate Prognosis to be in good condition to take on the world’s top-rated horse Equinox.

“He’s very well,” he said of the five-year-old, winner of the G2 Sapporo Kinen last start.

Meanwhile, the Ritto-based handler has a strong record in the late-season juvenile features and has been nurturing and preparing the next batch of potential stars: last weekend at Tokyo and Kyoto he welcomed the Newcomer winners Sonshi and El Sabio.

Nakauchida’s first Group 1 success came in 2017 when Danon Premium won Japan’s top two-year-old race, the Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes, and in 2020 he landed the same prize with Grenadier Guards. He has also won Japan’s top race for two-year-old fillies, the G1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies, with Danon Fantasy (2018) and Liberty Island (2022).

And it is another horse carrying the Danon prefix, owned by Danox Co. Ltd., that seems to be to the fore of his two-year-old team this season, a full-brother to G1 NHK Mile Cup winner Danon Scorpion. The Lord Kanaloa colt impressed on debut in July when easily winning the same 1600m Niigata Newcomer race that Liberty Island stepped out in a year earlier.  

“We have a very good horse called Danon Kilauea, he won nicely at Niigata,” Nakauchida said. “There is a race for him in three weeks’ time, the (G2) Daily Hai Nisai Satakes, and if he runs a good race there, he should go to the Group 1 race at the end of the year.

“I have some other good two-year-olds coming up so we’re looking forward,” he added.




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