Adrian Webber



Keiba Diary: Lemaire’s new ‘rocket’

Adrian Webber keeps tabs on the Group 1 goings on in the JRA and has word of a couple of milestones for a rising star jockey, and a stallion cementing his legacy

The name might sound like something off of the pizza menu, but Durezza the horse served up a whole different dish when winning the G1 Kikuka Sho at Kyoto last Sunday. Meaning ‘hard’ or ‘inflexible’ in Italian, the colt had plenty of the former and a lot less of the latter when seeing out the 3000 metres in scintillating style. 

It seemed like a few of the frontrunners, including Durezza, were running on tramlines which took them to different areas of the turf course, and for a while Christophe Lemaire applied the brakes when he decided just to ease off before the run for home. What came after was an explosive turn-of-foot that took Durezza back into the lead and he surged clear to win by three and a half lengths.


As it keeps being said, it is such a shame that his sire, Duramente, died at the young age of nine. Still, this latest win for the late stallion is just reward for him not running and winning in the final Classic of 2015 after securing wins in the G1 Satsuki Sho and the G1 Tokyo Yushun that same year.

Lemaire, meantime, would seem to have another ‘rocket on the track’, the phrase he himself likes to apply to some of the great horses he has ridden.

400 for Iwata

It hasn’t taken long for the young Mirai Iwata to usurp his father’s position in the riding ranks and Iwata junior brought up his 400th JRA win on Sunday. At just 23 years of age, he is the second-youngest JRA jockey in history to reach the figure.

“It’s just my fifth year riding, so I’m pleased to achieve this,” Iwata said after the big win. “It’s good that my father is at the track today and I appreciate the support of the fans in attendance too.”

Iwata senior just had the one ride on the day so there was plenty of time for him to reflect on his boy’s achievement.

Another century for Kizuna

It’s now four consecutive years that the stallion Kizuna has produced a hundred JRA winners or more, and his latest milestone was achieved a couple of weeks ago. 

He’s the second sire this year to bring up the ton (Lord Kanaloa was the first) and currently sits in third place in the prize money list. His offspring’s four Group race wins so far this year have included the G1 Victoria Mile and the G1 Yasuda Kinen, both won by Songline.

Kizuna, a son of Deep Impact, winning the The Qatar Prix Niel at Longchamp in 2013. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst)

Songline just gets the better of Sodashi in a thrilling G1 Victoria Mile. (Photo by JRA)

Kizuna has been a dominant force for horses winning on dirt and turf, and now looks set to beat his best year so far, which was 2022, when he had 131 winners. Shadai Stallion Station hopes the 2013 Derby winner can continue his successful career for a good while yet.

German precision

It was jockey Bauyrzhan Murzabayev who was incidental in helping fellow jockey Ryoya Kozaki arrange a trip to Germany to gain experience overseas. Kozaki arrived in July  at the stable of trainer Peter Schiergen, famous in Japan for sending his star filly Danedream to run in the 2011 Japan Cup. 

Keen to see how things work in a different racing environment the youngster put in long hours to take care of and prepare five horses a day, and found the time spent there extremely valuable.

“I went to many racetracks I’d never been to and learned many new things about horses and horse racing. I want to put that experience to good use in Japan,” Kozaki said of his stint in Germany.

He had twelve rides during the three months he was there and managed to ride one winner before returning to Japan just recently. He resumed riding last weekend with two rides at Kyoto and one at Niigata. His efforts yielded a best-placed sixth, but future winners shouldn’t be too far off.

Autumn Tenno Sho

Another clash of the titans is on the cards this coming weekend when Equinox once again puts his world’s best racehorse title on the line in the G1 Autumn Tenno Sho run over 2000 metres at Tokyo. With only 13 horses nominated, the field might be a bit smaller than usual for a Japanese Group 1, but it oozes talent and it will be interesting to see how the champ disposes of his rivals this time.

As always, there’s no such thing as a certainty in racing, and the likes of Do Deuce (a conqueror of Equinox in the 2022 Derby), Prognosis and Justin Palace will be trying their best to upset the apple cart.

Justin Palace wins the Tenno Sho (Spring). (Photo by JRA)

Prognosis wins the G2 Sapporo Kinen. (Photo by JRA)

Add into the mix Danon Beluga (Joao Moreira’s ride) and Best-Three-Old Filly of 2022 Stars on Earth, another of Duramente’s progeny, and things could get interesting. 

Christophe Lemaire reports, though, that Equinox is now ‘better than he was before the Takarazuka Kinen’ so the others might be wasting their time by turning up, but on Sunday afternoon we’ll know for sure.




    Subscribe now & get exclusive weekly content from Asian Racing Report direct to your inbox

      Expert ratings, tips & analysis for Hong Kong racing