Adrian Webber



Keiba Diary: there’s no ignoring Equinox

Adrian Webber is wowed by the world’s best, salutes a popular mare, and has word on Panthalassa, foal sales, and breeders’ cups home and away.

Are there different levels of greatness? If there are, then Equinox has certainly made a cse to be in the top echelon after last Sunday’s Autumn Tenno Sho. The Kikuka Sho the week before might have had the air of something that was conceived in a madcap inventor’s workshop, but the clear and precise method of Equinox’s latest win left nothing to the imagination as the son of Kitasan Black continued his upward trajectory. 

Ratings’ experts will be scrambling for their calculators after the horse’s win in record time over the 2000 metres at Tokyo. The opposition melted away pretty quickly as Equinox appeared to arrive at the final turn without having flexed a muscle despite the strong early pace.


His old rival Do Deuce suffered a pre-race setback when jockey Yutaka Take was kicked by a horse earlier on the day and had to give up his remaining rides, including the one on Do Deuce. The latter finished only seventh and trainer Yasuo Tomomichi thought it was perhaps because it was his first run in a while.

Farewell Ruby

Retirement will likely loom for Equinox at the year’s end, but the six-year-old mare Ruby Casablanca is already ‘putting her feet up’ after she was retired last week. She collected only one Group race win in her career, but she was always a tough nut to crack and invariably gave her best on the racecourse with so many second and third place finishes. She even got a shot at a G1 when eighth to Geraldina in the Queen Elizabeth II |Cup. The full-sister to high-class You Can Smile will become a broodmare at Northern Farm.

Ruby Casablanca wins the G3 Aichi Hai. (Photo by JRA)

Sales are booming

The Hokkaido Autumn Sale for yearlings was held over two days on October 16 and 17, and for the fourth consecutive year the overall sales turnover increased. Of 435 horses offered for sale, a total of 330 were sold at an average price of just under ¥4 million, the highest average in the past ten years. The top two stallions represented were American Patriot and Asia Express, and the most expensive purchase was a filly by Suave Richard out of Japonica Style which sold for just under ¥20 million.

Meanwhile at the Northern Farm Mixed Sale just last week, it was a sell-out for all 44 foals on offer, with 22 colts and 22 fillies on the list. The highest price paid was for a colt by Epiphaneia out of Passion Rouge, which fetched just over ¥92 million. Fillies by Contrail, Maurice and Kizuna all went for ¥68.2 million, with the latter being out of Amphitrite, an Australian Group 1 winner. 

It was only the second year that foals were included in the Mixed Sale, but the future looks assured for their inclusion from now.

Panthalassa to return

Panthalassa might have missed last week’s Autumn Tenno Sho, but plans are in place for the versatile globe-trotter to return in the G1 Champions Cup at Chukyo in December. 

Trainer Yoshito Yahagi is eager to see how his stable star might perform: “We’ve discussed things with the farm, and after careful consideration it’s been decided that the Champions Cup could be a suitable race for him. The dirt surface overseas is different from Japan, but unless we try him on the dirt here we won’t know how he goes on it.” Panthalassa is on the mend from a right foreleg ligament injury and is due to return to the stable this week.


Panthalassa is being set for December's G1 Champions Cup. (Photo by Francois Nel)

JBC day

It’s Japan Breeding farms’ Cup day (JBC) this coming Friday and three of the series’ races will be at Oi this year. The JBC Classic will be contested by Meisho Hario and T O Keynes but unfortunately Mick Fire will be sitting out the race. He is another that has the JRA Champions Cup (or the Tokyo Daishoten) as his next target, having lost 30kg after his last race, and trainer Kazuo Watanabe says the horse needs a bit more time.

Korea Sprint record-breaker Remake will contest the JBC Sprint but it’s doubtful Yutaka Take will take the ride after being injured last Sunday. The JBC Ladies’ Classic is also on the card at Oi, while the JBC Nisai Yushun for two-year-olds will be run at Monbetsu.

Meanwhile in America

The 40th Breeders’ Cup World Championships – the real McCoy as it were – is also upon us this weekend in Santa Anita and Japan has a nine-strong team hoping to snag a top prize or two. Ushba Tesoro is looking to add to his G1 Dubai World Cup win in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, while talented mare Songline goes for the G1 Breeders’ Cup Mile. Five jockeys head over from Japan and they are Yuga Kawada, Christophe Lemaire, Kosei Miura, Keita Tosaki and Kenichi Ikezoe.


Group 2 in Tokyo

A break in the Group 1 action this weekend sees the focus fall on the G2 Copa Republica Argentina, best known for Screen Hero winning in 2008 and then going on to win the Japan Cup the same year. Weights are just out for the big handicap on Sunday, and Heat On Beat will have to carry 59kg with jockey Takuya Kowata getting the ride and hoping he can win just his third ever graded race.




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