This Sunday, November 24, the Japan Cup 2013 will take place in Tokyo Racecourse and Australian punters will have someone to cheer for in the 33rd edition of the race with ace Aussie hoop Craig Williams engaged to ride Admire Rakti.
The Heart’s Cry stallion is out to improve on their last start 10th in the Meguro Kinen when they line up from a nice barrier six draw in the 17-horse field for this year’s ¥481,400,000 (AUS$5.1 million) Group 1 Japan Cup (2400m).
The Tomoyuki Umeda-trained Admire Rakti will be ridden by leading Victorian jockey Williams who kicks off a one-month riding contract in Japan.
Williams has ridden in the past two editions of the lucrative Japan Cup running second in 2011 and third last year.
Current Japan Cup betting markets meanwhile are a battle between the Hiroyuki Uchida-trained four time Grade 1 champ Gold Ship and Deep Impact mare Gentildonna who will be ridden by Ryan Moore as she defends her title.
2012 Japan Horse of the Year Gentildonna became the first three-year-old filly in history to win the Japan Cup, but is yet to win a race this season.
Two horses that ran in the world’s richest handicap, the AUS$6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) earlier this month meanwhile are also backing up in the Japan Cup.
The best fancied of those is William Mullins’ Irish raider Simenon (barrier 14), while French stayer Dunaden is also not without their chances in the prestigious Japanese classic from gate 10.
Marju gelding Simenon, to be ridden by Richard Hughes, is out to break a 17 month drought and comes off a brave fourth behind the Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente in the Melbourne Cup.
They have been training in the dirt since arriving in Japan, a tactic that has been used many times before with the horse back home, and connections are confident they will be competitive on the turf on Sunday.
“Back home, he always trains on an all-weather surface, and he would train on the turf only once before the race, so we would prefer to train him on the dirt here,” Willie Mullin’s stable rep Emmet Mullins told the Japan Racing Association.
We’re happy. We’re not particularly worried about the firm and fast turf here, he has good form on very fast ground, especially his last start, the Melbourne Cup, was very fast as well, but he came out of that perfect with no problems at all. He has a preference for fast ground, which is why we came here.”
Mikel Delzangles’ Nicobar stallion Dunaden, a Jamie Spencer mount, meanwhile was 11th in the Melbourne Cup, a race they won two years ago in a tight 2011 finish with Red Cadeaux.
Duanden also won the Caulfield Cup down under last when ridden by Williams and his handler Mathieu Brasme believes they are in similar form and conditions as they were leading up to that victory.
“I have been with this horse for a year and a half, and I find that his current condition is absolutely the same as when he won the Caulfield Cup last year—he still wants to fight, he still loves his job and still has the same habits—and although he’s a year older, you don’t feel it,” he said.
“In the Melbourne Cup, he had to carry the top weight which was the main reason he didn’t perform so well, but in Japan it is weight for age, so it will be much better for him.”
Both horses face a tough battle however as Japanese-trained horses have won the past seven editions of the race.
The last overseas raider to steal the Japan Cup trophy from the locals was the Luca Cumani-trained Alkaased in 2005, the 14th foreign horse to win the event in history.
Ridden by Lanfrnaco Dettori, Alkaased blitzed the Japan Cup race record that year, a time of 2:22.1 seconds that still stands today.
Another horse Australian punters may want to keep an eye on in this year’s Japan Cup is Lelouch (barrier 11) who is being earmarked by Racing Victoria for a 2014 Melbourne Cup campaign next spring.
Other notable Japan Cup hopes this year include King’s Best six-year-old Eishin Flash who won the Japanese Derby, the Ed Dunlop-trained Joshua Tree last seen running second to Verema in the Prix Kergorlay (3000m) back in August and young filly Denim And Ruby who carries just 53kg.
Along with Simenon and Dunaden, Joshua Tree is the only other non Japan-trained hope looking to stop the locals from securing their eighth consecutive victory and is eligible for an 80 million yen winning bonus as the winner of the Canadian International.
See below for the full 2013 Japan Cup field, jockeys and weights.
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2013 Japan Cup Final Field
Tokyo Racecourse – 24/11/2013
|No.||Horse||Sex & Age||Weight (Kg)||Jockey||Trainer|
|1||Verxina(JPN)||F4||55||Yasunari Iwata||Yasuo Tomomichi|
|2||Nakayama Knight(JPN)||H5||57||Yoshitomi Shibata||Yoshitaka Ninomiya|
|3||Uncoiled(FR)||C4||57||Hiroki Goto||Yoshito Yahagi|
|4||Eishin Flash(JPN)||H6||57||Mirco Demuro||Hideaki Fujiwara|
|5||Tosen Jordan(JPN)||H7||57||William Buick||Yasutoshi Ikee|
|6||Admire Rakti(JPN)||H5||57||Craig Williams||Tomoyuki Umeda|
|7||Gentildonna(JPN)||F4||55||Ryan Moore||Sei Ishizaka|
|8||Fire(JPN)||H5||57||Norihiro Yokoyama||Masaru Honda|
|9||Denim and Ruby(JPN)||F3||53||Suguru Hamanaka||Katsuhiko Sumii|
|10||Dunaden(FR)||H7||57||James Spencer||Mikel Delzangles|
|11||Lelouch(JPN)||H5||57||Yuichi Fukunaga||Kazuo Fujisawa|
|12||Hokko Brave(JPN)||H5||57||Kosei Miura||Yasutoshi Matsunaga|
|13||Gold Ship(JPN)||C4||57||Hiroyuki Uchida||Naosuke Sugai|
|15||Smart Gear(JPN)||H8||57||Keita Tosaki||Masaru Sayama|
|16||Hit the Target(JPN)||H5||57||Yutaka Take||Keiji Kato|
|17||Joshua Tree(IRE)||H6||57||John Murtagh||Edward Dunlop|