The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Jockey Glyn Schofield has described Chris Waller’s former Group 1 winner Japonisme as “lost” but hopes to turns things around on the galloper this Saturday in the 2017 Festival Stakes.
Schofield partners the Choisir gelding under race conditions for the first time since a failed ninth to Tivaci in Randwick’s Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) back in mid-April.
Japonisme has had five unplaced runs since, most recently finishing sixth to Duca Valentinois at Hawkesbury on November 9 in the Listed Ladies Day Plate (1400m).
Schofield was aboard for a subsequent winning barrier trial over 1200m at Warwick Farm on November 21 and hopes that was a show of better things to come from the five-year-old in the Group 3 $150,000 Festival Stakes (1500m).
“He was high quality Group 1 performer but he seems to have lost his way,’’ Schofield told Racing NSW.
“His form suggests he needs to improve. He’s at the crossroads and we need him to turn around from the road to nowhere.
“He jumped and led under no pressure and was entitled to win [the lead-up trial].
“I’m glad that he won the trial. A little bit of rain would help him enormously and if he comes back to anywhere near his old form he just wins.”
Japonisme is drawn the inside barrier in a 10 horse field for the handicap clash and carries 58.5kg.
From five previous runs at Rosehill Gardens the $1.33 million earner boasts a trio of wins but he hasn’t raced at the track since August of 2015 as a three-year-old.
At the time Japonisme was one of the highest-rated young sprinters getting around and he proved his ability that spring with a Flemington win in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) as a $21 roughie.
The following autumn he was also in outstanding form posting two Group 1 thirds to Chautauqua and Flamberge respectively in the Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) and William Reid Stakes (1200m) against open-age fields.
Japonisme continued to rack up placings at elite level when third in 2016 BTC Cup that winter, but his subsequent third in that year’s Manikato Stakes was his last run in the money.
His latest turf triumph meanwhile was right back in April of 2016 when he took out the Group 2 Arrowfield 3YO sprint (1200m).
He is a $16 outsider in Festival Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au to break the drought on Saturday, markets for the race dominated by the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained November Handicap winner Cabeza De Vaca ($2.70) chasing win number six on the trot.
Helping Japonisme regain his previous stellar form, Waller has added a tongue tie and cross over nose band to the horse’s gear and also runs the previous star sprinter over further than 1400m for the first time.
Waller also saddles-up Good Project ($12) and the imported Mister Sea Wolf ($4.80) in the Festival Stakes field, the latter debuting down under and an early market mover to salute first-up in Australia.
Head to Ladbrokes.com.au now for the full Festival Stakes 2017 betting odds and options for the weekend’s Sydney feature.
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