Adrian Webber



Keiba Diary: Centaur boilover but no shocks in Korea

Adrian Webber looks back on Japan’s Seoul raid, T M Spada’s huge odds Centaur surprise, and gives us the latest on the JRA’s returning stars.

A weekend of upsets in Japan didn’t really shed much light on what to expect in the autumn’s upcoming feature races. The biggest surprise was T M Spada taking out the G2 Centaur Stakes at odds of 112-1, giving jockey Akatsuki Tomita his first graded success in his seventh year of riding on the JRA circuit. 

The winner was quickly into stride and managed to cling on until the end, with the fast-finishing Aguri (best final three-furlong time in the race of 32.4 seconds) probably the one to take note of after running on for second when finally seeing daylight.

In the other big races at the weekend, Moryana got up to beat Hip Hop Soul by half a length in the G2 Shion Stakes when given an incredible ride by Norihiro Yokoyama, running home from 14th position on the final turn, and the Yasutoshi Ikee-trained Soul Rush defied top weight of 59kg to win the G3 Keisei Hai Autumn Handicap at Nakayama on Sunday.

Over in Seoul, Japanese horses won the G3 Korea Sprint and the G3 Korea Cup in some style. The Sprint went to Remake, a son of Lani, and if that looked easy, just a little later on Crown Pride put 10 lengths between himself and Gloria Mundi to win the Cup. Both winners were ridden by ‘Mr Style’ himself, Yuga Kawada.

Christophe Lemaire's Arc bid

With Kawada away in Korea, it meant Christophe Lemaire was able to draw level with him at the top of the jockeys’ table, with both now on the 107-winner mark. When not opening pop-up stores and booting home winners in another attempt at the jockeys’ title here in Japan, there is the small matter of getting himself over to France in a few weeks to ride Through Seven Seas in the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on October 1.

The Japanese dream – or nightmare – once again presents itself and it’s a case of can the daughter of Dream Journey do what every other Japanese horse has failed to do? There are some juicy quotes from bookmakers.


Christophe Lemaire and Japan's Arc contender Through Seven Seas. (Photo by JRA)

“I’ve ridden the horse three times and won on her three times, and you have to say her second in the G1 Takarazuka Kinen was pretty good,”  Lemaire said recently. “Of course, everybody in Japan wants to see a Japanese winner and for me, too, as a Frenchman I want to win the race. The best I’ve done is finish second on Pride in 2006.”

Horses returning from their summer breaks

A couple of horses from trainer Yasuo Tomomichi’s stable, Do Deuce and Harper, returned to their Ritto base at the end of last week, and plans are for Do Deuce, the 2022 Derby winner, to contest the G1 Autumn Tenno Sho as his next race. 

Tomomichi reports that the son of Heart’s Cry has been well cared for at the farm and currently weighs around 520kg without appearing too big. Do Deuce hasn’t been seen in an actual race since February, having been withdrawn from the G1 Dubai Turf due to lameness. Harper, second in this year’s Oaks, will go straight to the G1 Shuka Sho for her next run.

Meanwhile, news on Bellagio Opera is that the colt needs more time and will skip the G2 Kobe Shimbun Hai and hopefully be ready for the G1 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger) in October. 

Trainer Hiroyuki Uemura said: “He’s a horse for the future so I don’t want to rush things with him. We’ll aim for the Kikuka Sho and see how things work out with him.”

Bellagio Opera. (Photo by JRA)

The exciting two-year-old filly Bond Girl also returned to Takahisa Tezuka’s stable at Miho last week. She was a little tense but has definitely filled out and her next race is expected to be the G3 Saudi Arabia Royal Cup on October 7.

Meikei Yell is another preparing for an autumn campaign and will go straight to the G1 Sprinters Stakes. Despite her fickle behaviour, the five-year-old mare has six graded wins to her name but there’s still no Group 1 win on her resume, something connections are hoping to fix with all the effort involved.

Next couple of weeks

The much-anticipated return of Titleholder is expected to be in the G2 All Comers at Nakayama on September 24. His recent training time of 71.5 seconds over five furlongs, with a final furlong of 11.3 seconds, indicates that he’s coming along well.   

“His balance is still a bit off but he should improve with more work as the race gets closer,” commented trainer Toru Kurita.

This coming weekend sees three days of racing at the Hanshin and Nakayama tracks, and the spotlight will most definitely be on Sol Oriens in the G2 St. Lite Kinen on Monday. There is also another G1 Shuka Sho trial in the form of the G2 Rose Stakes on Sunday, and while there’s probably nothing to have Liberty Island shaking in her shoes, Brede Weg, by Lord Kanaloa, looks an interesting runner with her two very easy wins in her two races this year.




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