Adrian Webber



Keiba Diary: Sasaki’s hot streak continues as Hakodate winds down

Adrian Webber has the latest on the Lemaire-Kawada battle, a record dividend, Oju Chosan, Deep Impact’s ongoing achievements, and another big night to look forward to at Tokyo City Keiba.

It’s the last weekend of the current Hakodate summer season and Daisuke Sasaki has kept up his impressive form. Last weekend the young rider came away with four wins, making him the leading jockey so far at the course this year with 18 winners, ahead of the great Yutaka Take, and Takeshi Yokoyama.

Sasaki could prove to be a star of the future but the two brightest stars in the jockey ranks, Christophe Lemaire and Yuga Kawada, are locked in a ding-dong battle at the top of the JRA jockeys’ table with 79 wins apiece.

But it was a couple of riders from off the leading pack that took the honours in the Group 3 races last weekend. Kenichi Ikezoe managed a pillar-to-post win aboard the improving Don Frankie to score the four-year-old colt’s first graded stakes win in Sunday’s Procyon Stakes, together with the jockey also making it his first big win of the year, due to an injury keeping him out of action for some time this spring. 


Don Frankie wins the G3 Procyon Stakes. (Photo by JRA)

At Fukushima in the Tanabata Sho, a workmanlike performance from Seiun Hades under Hideaki Miyuki gave the four-year-old by Silver State his first graded level win as well after finishing second in the G3 Niigata Daishoten in May.

Lucky Go Go

You don’t need to be the world’s most advanced linguist to know that ‘five’ in Japanese is ‘go’. The ‘five-five’ bracket quinella at Fukushima in the fourth race on Sunday paid a massive 1,490-1, a record high dividend for the bracket quinella, which was last set 53 years ago. A big case for ‘liking the name’ can be given with the first two home: they were called Bold Top and Dazzling Dance.

O to be at Oi

The NAR track at Oi recently hosted the Teio Sho won by Meisho Hario and this Wednesday there’ll be another big race at Tokyo City Keiba, the Japan Dirt Derby over 2000 metres. First run in 1999, it forms part of the ‘nankan keiba’ (the four tracks at Oi, Funabashi, Urawa and Kawasaki) triple crown races run on dirt, the other two being the Haneda Hai and the Tokyo Derby. 

Mick Fire, an NAR runner and winner of the other two races is unbeaten in all five of his starts to date, and will take on the final leg of the series, as well as the might of the JRA runners who form well over half of the eleven-runner field.

The Japan Dirt Derby has been won by JRA horses 18 times since it was first run and Mick Fire will certainly have his work cut out, but everyone loves the underdog, and perhaps he can sparkle again at the ‘nighter’ venue just outside Tokyo at about 8.10pm local time.


Oju Chosan, Japan’s greatest steeplechase horse this century, retired just last year at age 11 after finishing sixth in his final race, the J-G1 Nakayama Daishogai. He’s now to spend some time at the place where he was born, the Bando Bokujo in Hokkaido, after which he’ll move to the Yogibo Versailles Resort Farm in Hidaka-cho.

Six-time Nakayama Grand Jump winner Oju Chosan. (Photo by jRA)

It mustn’t be forgotten that the popular horse with a big fan following also ran in flat races and finished ninth in the G1 Arima Kinen in 2018, which really is a remarkable feat. He ran in a total of 40 races and won 20 of them. At the Yogibo Versailles Resort Farm he’ll join the likes of Logi Cry, Tanino Gimlet and Etario to undertake duties as a stallion.

Lasting Impact

The mind blowing stats keep coming for Deep Impact as a sire, the latest being the English and Irish Derby wins of Auguste Rodin. Deep Impact now joins Galileo and Nijinsky as a Derby-winning sire in four different countries. Of his over 100 Group 1 winners throughout the world, 72 have been achieved in JRA Group 1 races and he just lacks a win in four of the 26 JRA Group 1s on the calendar. 

From Marcellina winning the Oka Sho in 2011 through to Ask Victor More’s win in last year’s Kikuka Sho, it’s been 12 consecutive years of Classic winners in Japan and the recently unveiled ‘Deep Impact Gate’ at the Northern Horse Park is a timely reminder of the greatness and popularity of the son of Sunday Silence.

Last weekend of Hakodate

The 59th Hakodate Kinen on Sunday is a Group 3 race being contested by Rousham Park, an impressive winner last time at Tokyo on Derby day. Arata and Dobune are a couple of others who have run strong races at Hakodate recently, and that always seems to help in a follow-up race at the track.

The Group 3 Hakodate Nisai Stakes will be run the day before, and 14 of the 16 nominated two-year-olds have won their last race so it’s time to get the pin out for that one.     




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