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BRINGING ASIAN RACING TO THE WORLD
The trainer also outlines Group 1 plans for star filly Liberty Island and the talented Prognosis, while Grenadier Guards stays home for Sunday’s G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen.
Mitsumasa Nakauchida is hoping his burgeoning miler Serifos can secure a first overseas victory for his stable in the G1 Dubai Turf on Saturday, after connections opted for the Meydan assignment over Australia’s G1 Doncaster Mile at Randwick.
The Nakauchida stable tops the season’s standings in Japan at present – the trainer was JRA champion in 2021 – and is also home to last season’s outstanding juvenile filly Liberty Island, top-rated for the first fillies’ classic, the G1 Oka Sho, as well as the lightly-raced talent Prognosis who could be heading to Hong Kong next month.
Serifos emerged as a star miler last autumn in Japan, winning the G2 Fuji Stakes at Tokyo into the G1 Mile Championship at Hanshin, both at 1600m. The latter victory was achieved against a crack field that featured the likes of Sodashi, Danon The Kid and Schnell Meister, but it was also the prime factor in determining the colt’s spring target.
“I had a few choices for this horse at this time of year, but Dubai has a weight-for-age allowance, whereas the Australian race I was looking at, the Doncaster, is a handicap,” Nakauchida told Asian Racing Report.
“After he won the Mile Championship, a Group 1 race, he was highly-rated so I imagined he would carry a heavy weight, perhaps top-weight, so rather than taking that risk, I chose to take a different chance and go further, over 1800 metres in Dubai.”
The Dubai Turf features the British runner Lord North, aiming for a hat-trick of wins in the race after being a dead-heat winner with Panthalassa last year, as well as Serifos’ fellow Japanese raiders Do Deuce, Danon Beluga, and Vin De Garde, a narrow third 12 months ago; Hong Kong has the Pierre Ng-trained Glorious Dragon.
Serifos has raced exclusively at 1600m in his eight-race career: the G1 Racing-owned chestnut has five wins to his credit, plus second place in the G1 Asahi Hai Futurity as a juvenile, and fourth place finishes in both the G1 NHK Mile and the G1 Yasuda Kinen last spring. Nakauchida is unconcerned by the extra 200 metres his charge faces this weekend.
“The way he ran and won the last race, the Mile Championship, he won by going away, he was not stopping at the end. And the jockey felt comfortable stretching the distance so we took this path. His sire, Daiwa Major, actually won at a mile and a quarter,” he said.
Serifos arrived in Dubai on March 15 and Nakauchida’s staff on the ground have been positive about his experience so far.
“He actually travelled well and he settled down in the stable at Meydan just fine. He’s training well so I’m very happy with him,” the trainer noted. “His jockey, Damian Lane, will sit on him (Wednesday) morning and he will breeze on turf.
“I will arrive on Thursday morning because I have a few runners this weekend in Japan. So I leave Japan Wednesday night.”
Two-year-old filly Liberty Island destroys her Hanshin opposition. (Photo by JRA)
Trainer Mitsumasa Nakauchida with Grenadier Guards at Newmarket. (Photo by Asian Racing Report)
Nakauchida had news about the exciting three-year-old Liberty Island who dominated her rivals when last seen winning the G1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies in December.
“We are going directly to the Oka Sho (Japanese 1,000 Guineas) with Liberty Island,” he said. “She has got stronger physically, and mentally she’s still a baby but she is definitely developing well. Coming into her three-year-old campaign, she is definitely much more mature than she was at two.”
Meanwhile, among the stable’s runners this weekend is Grenadier Guards in the G1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen at Chukyo on Sunday. Nakauchida took the horse to Royal Ascot last year in search of that first overseas success only to finish 19th in the Platinum Jubilee Stakes.
The 2020 G1 Asahi Hai Futurity winner returned to action in December when second in a 1400m G2 but disappointed last time when seventh in a G3 at the same course and distance.
“His last race, we were kind of disappointed, he wasn’t able to show his ability,” Nakauchida said of the Sunday Racing-owned son of Frankel. “He was a little bit keen during the race and had no cover; he ran a little bit free and had nothing left at the end. Shortening the distance, over six furlongs, I’m not too worried about him getting too keen and the jockey will find it easier to control him.
“He is owned by a racing club and the owners prefer to race him in Japan this year to try and get another Group 1 win in Japan, which will help him stand out when he becomes a stallion, so they really want him to get another big title on his CV.”
Prognosis rattles home to win the G2 Kinko Sho for Yuga Kawada. (Photo by JRA)
One horse that looks likely to travel overseas in the coming months is the emerging five-year-old Prognosis, who has a five from eight record and claimed his first Pattern race win earlier this month in the G2 Kinko Sho over 2000m.
“Prognosis is aiming at Hong Kong, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over 2000 metres,” the trainer said of the Deep Impact entire. “The Osaka Hai, I think it comes too soon for him. I can’t run him in a short period of time, he’s a horse that needs time to recover himself before we get going.”
From Irish bumpers to Japan’s champion trainer
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