Adrian Webber



Keiba Diary: Moreira magic and a Golden victory

Adrian Webber considers the Brazilian maestro’s stunning form and the weekend’s overseas endeavours, as well as a prudent retirement, an emerging talent, and upcoming Group 1 action.

There might not have been any Group 1 action in Japan last weekend but there was certainly enough going on with Japanese racing both in and out of the country.

Starting off in Japan, it was Joao Moreira who delighted his fans. The great Brazilian was at his prolific best with no less than 11 winners over the weekend at Tokyo, including the G2 Copa Republica Argentina aboard Zeffiro for trainer Yasutoshi Ikee who has targeted the race a number of times in the past. 

Both jockey and trainer seemed a little taken aback by the four-year-old colt’s impressive win, but Ikee had him perfectly prepared and Moreira produced another ride of great precision, taking the shortest way round and threading the horse through on the inside in the final part of the race. Connections would seem to have a few choices now, including the Japan Cup or a possible trip to Hong Kong.


Over in America, Japan’s Breeders’ Cup team couldn’t quite pull off a win, but big runs from Derma Sotogake (second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic) and Shahryar (third to Auguste Rodin in the Breeders’ Cup Turf) kept the home fires burning. Slightly disappointing runs from Songline and Ushba Tesoro might have dampened the spirits a little, as both goot too far back in the run, but that, as they say, is racing.

Trainer Hidetaka Otonashi and owner Hiroyuki Asanuma are both keen to travel to Dubai and Saudi Arabia next year with Derma Sotogake, and anyone in their position would definitely be thinking the same.

Celebrate good times

Japan’s best moment of the weekend though came when Obamburumai made it a cool win in the lucrative Golden Eagle at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney on Saturday. The horse, whose name means ‘to be generous in celebrating’, certainly lived up to his name, and jockey Josh Parr gave owner Koji Oka a heck of a lot to celebrate when kicking home the son of Discreet Cat to claim the win.

Josh Parr drives Obamburumai home in the Golden Eagle. (Photo by Getty)

Calling time on a long career

Jockey Shigefumi Kumazawa has finally brought the curtain down on a career that has spanned 37 years. Kumazawa mostly rode in steeplechases, but he did win the Japanese Oaks in 1988 on Cosmo Dream, and he has certainly withstood the test of time.

But now he’s reached the point where the term ‘Doctor Stop’ has been applied to his situation. Loosely translated as ‘if you carry on doing this crazy stuff you’ll be in trouble,’ Kumazawa has accepted his lot.

“I’ve recently recovered from a cervical spine injury and have been told that if I fall again it could be very dangerous. I haven’t thought of what I might do from now, but I’d like to thank everyone involved in my career over all these years,” Kumazawa said.

His total number of 15,222 rides has yielded 1051 wins, 794 on the flat and 257 in steeplechases. There will be a retirement ceremony after racing at Kyoto this coming Saturday, November 11, for the ‘Iron Man’ of Japanese racing.

Another fast ball

Former baseball star Kazuhiro Sasaki has undoubtedly made an impression in the world of Japanese horse racing since his retirement from life as a pitcher. He’s best known as the owner of 2017 Japan Cup winner Cheval Grand and now he has another good prospect on his hands in Grande Venus, a half-brother to Cheval Grand. 

The three-year-old colt won at Kyoto at the end of October with the fastest final three-furlong time in the race of 33.5 seconds and will now head to a two-win class race at Hanshin on December 2.

Grande Venus has a strong staying pedigree. (Photo by @silent_star__ via Twitter)

Yasuo Tomomichi trains Grande Venus and can see similarities between the two horses.

“He’s developing a lot like his brother and at the same kind of pace,” said the multiple big race-winning trainer. “The jockey who rode him in his debut race thought that he’s a horse with a future.”

Ladies Day

It’s the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup this coming Sunday at Kyoto and the time-honoured race is always a great way to kick-off the second spell of autumn Group 1 action through December, which includes the Japan Cup on November 26.

The race for fillies and mares on Sunday looks to be an interesting affair with the five-year-old mare Geraldina attempting to follow up on her win in the race last year. Ryan Moore, who picked up a one-day suspension at the Breeders’ Cup, will be hoping it doesn’t stop him riding the daughter of Maurice, and as a number of other horses in the past have won the race in consecutive years (Lucky Lilac being the latest in 2019 and 2020), there’s a good chance Geraldina can emulate them. 

Geraldina is looking to defend her G1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup crown. (Photo by JRA)

This year’s Oaks second Harper is looking for a well-deserved top-level win and will be ridden by Yuga Kawada, while another striking filly is Brede Weg, and she could easily be improving enough to carry off the race and hand another big win to Christophe Lemaire.




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