Quotes from Japan Cup connections
Now that we’ve previewed the field for the Japan Cup (G1), which goes off at 1:40 a.m. (EST) tonight, here are selected quotes from japanracing.jp.
Alan Cooper, racing manager for the Niarchos Family, on Erupt: “The Japan Cup has long been a race of high importance in our racing calendar. Back in the 1990s, the Niarchos Family raced Hernando twice and 10 years ago, we raced Bago, and the gap of 10 years shows how difficult it is for us in the Niarchos stable to find a suitable candidate to come back to be with you here. It is a great prestige.”
Jean-Pierre Carvalho, trainer of Ito, who drew post 14: “The barrier draw plays a big part in the outcome of the race, so that is certainly a concern—I would say between five and ten would be good. An outside draw from that would definitely be a disadvantage and require a lot of effort.”
Peter Schiergen, trainer of Nightflower: “I’ve ridden (1995 Japan Cup winner) Lando in Germany and I’ve won races with Lando in Germany. He was a very good horse and was different to Nightflower. Lando was special. He needed a good pace and good ground, and Nightflower can handle everything, every kind of ground and the distance is perfect. Is she the same class to Lando…I don’t know.”
Assistant trainer Robin Trevor-Jones on Trip to Paris: “The Melbourne Cup wasn’t so genuine a pace, it was very stop start, very slow, it did not suit a lot of horses...It got very rough, he got galloped into, he had a shoe pulled off -- the Melbourne Cup, I think, we’ll just put a line straight through it and we’ll go from the Caulfield Cup run…It’s his first time to run a mile and a half in the weight for age category. The Caulfield Cup is obviously a handicap. But the way he has been working, the way he ran in the Caulfield Cup, we think we are going to be competitive in the mile-and-a-half weight for age.”
Yasutoshi Ikee, trainer of Lovely Day: “In the Tenno Sho (Autumn)…he ran a totally different race from the horses who finished second through fourth. He was very impressive. His hindquarters and shoulders have gotten very muscular in particular and overall he has put on muscle. I think he’s at his prime…He has handled the Kyoto 2,400 well but the hill at Tokyo is long. That will be key. I’m hoping to be able to give further proof of the high level of Japanese horses.
“I think 2,000 meters is his best distance and things should be fine if jockey Kawada can keep him nicely balanced. I’d say his top rivals are Gold Ship and my other horse Mikki Queen, but the horses from overseas are looking serious so I’m keeping my eye on them.”
Ikee on Mikki Queen: “She jumped better last time out (in the Shuka Sho) than she had in the Rose Stakes and the far outside gate was actually good because she was loaded late…But she was great in splitting the ranks coming into the stretch…[T]hough we did considering running her in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, I wanted to give her a bit more time between races…She won the (Japanese) Oaks at the same venue but the Japan Cup is a totally different race. It’ll surely be a much tougher race than what she’s had up to now.”
Jockey Suguru Hamanaka on Mikki Queen: “The turn home in the Shuka Sho was the toughest spot and she really showed guts…We had the far outside gate so the trainer wanted to have no hesitation right out of the gate but wanted me to send her aggressively forward and secure our position. So, it was different from our normal strategy. She’s by no means a good starter. She’ll miss the jump or just jump so-so and usually the position we take up depends totally on how she comes out of the gate…She’s already shown how good she is up against fillies of her own age, but this is going to be a higher hurdle and a challenge for her. I think she can come very close to some of the best female champions there have been and I’d like to have your support.”
Naosuke Sugai, trainer of Gold Ship: “The gate was everything in the Takarazuka Kinen. He was loaded early and kept waiting quite a while and that upset him. The horse next to him was jumping around and that got him worked up even more. The timing of the break was bad and that was really frustrating, but that’s racing and there’s nothing you can do about it. He came back to the training center at the beginning of October. He never has any problem in gate practice and there was no problem with his gate test either. Two weeks ago he got a nice time on the flat course and last week he surprised us with a great time up the hill course when the track was slow. His movement is powerful and his muscling is good. He’s looking like he did in his best of times so far. He has a lot of wins and I don’t think he’s as bad over the Tokyo course as people tend to think. The gate is a big factor and I’m just hoping he can get a nice smooth run with no mishaps and give us his kind of race.”
Tomokazu Takano, trainer of Shonan Pandora: “She wasn’t able to get a good position from the gate in the Tenno Sho (Autumn). I don’t want to make excuses but I think the wide draw made things difficult. Still, I think she ran well…We’d hoped to have her maintain the condition she was in for her last race but it looks like we’ve done even better. She has improved more than we thought she would…From her appearance, she looks like a colt, but she is a filly after all and I have to think of the time between races and take care. She ran powerfully in work this week. She lost a shoe but we checked her legs and got the shoe back on and there was no problem there.”
Kenichi Fujioka, trainer of Sounds of Earth: “He was in good shape for the Kyoto Daishoten and did a nice job. I think he measured up even with the fast times over the final three furlongs and he learned from the race…He’ll definitely be better than last race….He hasn’t done well when there was a long trip to the track before but he’s a different horse now. The competition is stiff but he wasn’t far off Lovely Day last time out, so I have my hopes up.”
Hiroyoshi Matsuda, trainer of Last Impact: “I thought the position he had in the Tenno Sho (Autumn) would be OK but he hit the rail on the turn and lost his balance. So, the results were understandable and he didn’t break down but got home safely, so I’ll call it good…Ryan Moore asked for the ride himself this time. I’m hoping for a smooth race and for him to be able to give it his best.”
Kojiro Hashiguchi, trainer of One and Only: “The Tenno Sho (Autumn) had a slow pace and then it came down to who had the best acceleration in the final stage. This horse isn’t suited to that kind of trip. There was that and then, the same as in the Kyoto Daishoten, he was unusually relaxed from the saddling enclosure. In the (Japanese) Derby and in Dubai, once you put the saddle on him he was a real handful. He was always rather hard to handle. If you think of that, he was a bit too quiet in his last two races. Since then, we’ve concentrated on pushing him to the point of irritation. Physically, he’s in good shape, but he needs to get on his game mentally. His best race is the Tokyo 2,400…If he can get a good handle on the pace it would come as no surprise if we see something different this time out.”