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The Weekly Wrap: Japan To The Fore

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Cheval Grand and rider Yusuke Oe in Newmarket | Emma Berry

By Emma Berry

Over the last few months we’ve had a number of overseas equine visitors in our midst in Newmarket ahead of Royal Ascot and on Saturday morning a new face appeared on the heath. Cheval Grand (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry {Jpn}), the winner of the Japan Cup in 2017, ventured outside Japan for the first time earlier this year when travelling to Meydan for the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic, in which he finished runner-up to Old Persian (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}). He will remain in the UK for the G1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth S. followed by the G1 Juddmonte International before returning to his home country for a fourth tilt at the Japan Cup, a race in which he has finished in the first four in three attempts.

In many respects, Cheval Grand typifies his country’s approach to racing and breeding. A grandson of Sunday Silence out of Halwa Sweet (Jpn) (Machiavellian), a daughter of the well-credentialed import Halwa Song (Nureyev), he is still racing at the highest level as a 7-year-old stallion and, more importantly, he won’t be shunned when he retires to stud himself. His best runs have all come at a mile and a half but he has also twice been runner-up in the G1 Tenno Sho over two miles. Cheval Grand boasts a proper pedigree. His fourth dam is Glorious Song, whose sons include Singspiel (Ire) (a name which pops up pleasingly frequently in Japanese pedigrees) and Rahy, while his dam’s half-brother Martinborough (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) is at stud in France. Halwa Sweet has also produced G1 Dubai Turf winner Vivlos (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) as well as her full-sister, the dual Grade 1-winning miler and Japanese Oaks and Guineas runner-up Verxina (Jpn).

To date, Cheval Grand has won just over ¥1 billion (£7.4m/€8.2m) in prize-money from his 30 starts. These sort of returns are of course a key driver in ensuring that wealthy businessmen and women continue to invest heavily in the Japanese racing scene, as witnessed at last week’s record-breaking JRHA Select Sale, where turnover reached ¥20.5 billion (£151m/€168m) from the sale of 416 foals and yearlings across two days. There was no one dominant buyer, but the vendors’ list was dominated by one entity: Cheval Grand’s breeder, Northern Farm. The largest of the three separate operations run by the Yoshida brothers, Northern Farm—and Northern Horse Park, where the sale was held—is the property of Katsumi Yoshida and was responsible for 181 of the 455 horses offered for sale.

One only needs to glance at a list of mares owned by Katsumi, or his brother Teruya Yoshida at Shadai Farm, to imagine the vast investment they have made in plucking the best broodmares from all corners of the world. Their reward is found in the sales ring and on the racecourse, not to mention in the high regard in which Japanese gallopers are held the world over.

A first For Japan
There are six entries from Japan for the G1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the race which looms largest on the country’s international wishlist. Deep Impact himself came to Paris in 2006 to challenge for France’s biggest prize but, after finishing third past the post was later disqualified when a banned substance was found in a post-race sample.

If Japan is first past the post this year, it could well be the British-bred Galileo (Ire) colt from Ballydoyle, who loomed menacingly in the Derby when a close third to his stable-mate Anthony Van Dyck (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and then posted one of the best performances of Royal Ascot in the G2 King Edward VII S. His follow-up on Sunday when landing his first win at the highest level in the Grand Prix de Paris certainly makes him a credible threat to Enable (GB) (Nathaniel {Ire}) in her bid for an historic third Arc victory.

Japan is another feather in the cap of his breeder Newsells Park Stud, which is enjoying a good season courtesy of the likes of Soffia (GB), Demarchelier (GB) and Tapisserie (GB), and also stands Enable’s sire. Japan is out of the Danehill mare Shastye (Ire), who has provided Andreas Jacobs’s operation with some notable moments on the track and in the sales ring. Japan’s full-siblings Secret Gesture (GB) and Sir Isaac Newton (GB) are both group winners, the former having finished runner-up in the Oaks and German Oaks. Sir Isaac Newton was a 3.6 million gns October yearling and subsequent years have seen Shastye become a darling of Book 1, with her offspring selling for 800,000gns, 1.35m gns, 1.3m gns (Japan) and 3.4m gns. That final price was given for Japan’s brother Mogul (GB), who was the second-top lot of the most recent Tattersalls October Sale behind a full-brother to Too Darn Hot (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and is also in training at Ballydoyle.

It’s A Kind Of Magic
Japan is of course a product of the Galileo-Danehill cross which was lent an extra magic sparkle by Frankel (GB). Repeat matings of his dam Kind (Ire) with the champion sire resulted in another multiple Group 1 winner who in any other family would be a standout. In the case of Noble Mission (GB), who completed his racing career with victory in the same race in which Frankel took his bow, he’s destined always to be remembered for his relationship to the champion, but he is also proving that Lane’s End Farm’s faith in him as a stallion prospect was not misguided.

In Newmarket last week Frankel was all the rage as his son New King (GB) topped the Tattersalls July Sale at 450,000gns and daughter Veracious (GB) became his eighth Group 1 winner in the Falmouth S. Noble Mission was also involved in the stakes-race results, however, via his G3 Bahrain Trophy-winning son Spanish Mission, who could well be aimed at the St Leger after his impressive staying performance. Spanish Mission, trained by David Simcock for The Hon. Earle Mack and Team Valor, is the second group/graded winner for his sire this year after Code Of Honor, winner of the GII Fountain of Youth S. The latter was subsequently runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and followed up with another win in the GIII Dwyer S. on July 6.

All five of Kind’s sons of racing age have ended up at stud—Bullet Train (GB) (Sadler’s Wells) and Proconsul (GB) (Galileo {Ire}) are now in Ireland while Morpheus (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) is in France—and her listed-winning daughter Joyeuse (GB) (Oasis Dream {GB}) is adding her own chapter to the story as the dam of dual winner and G1 Coronation S.-placed Jubiloso (GB) (Shamardal).

Communique’s Love For HQ
Communique may be trained on the heavenly Yorkshire moors but he clearly has a liking for the East Anglian air as his four outings to Newmarket’s two racecourses have seen him triumph on every occasion. The likeable and robust colt is the best son of Casamento (Ire), who is now standing at Sunnyhill Stud, and he notched his second Group 2 win of the year in the Princess of Wales’s S. for Mark Johnston, whose stable has been operating at a 25% winning strike-rate over the last fortnight. Among the leading trainer’s four winners at the July meeting was also Raffle Prize, another to run in Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum’s silver silks. She too was posting her second Group 2 win of the season, her Duchess of Cambridge S. win following the Queen Mary S. at Royal Ascot. Notably, Frankie Dettori, was in the saddle for both, and he also steered the young sheikh’s Vale Of Kent (Ire) (Kodiac {GB}) to victory in the Bunbury Cup on Saturday.

Dettori may have fallen from grace as far as Sheikh Mohammed is concerned but when a jockey is riding with the vigour and supreme confidence of the evergreen Italian, it’s wise to let bygones be bygones.

Incidentally, the aforementioned Veracious and Raffle Prize both continued a real purple patch for the mighty Pivotal (GB) as broodmare sire. The Cheveley Park Stud veteran belied his 26 years when parading for guests at a stallion parade last week and the price of his daughters in the sales ring will only continue to rise as their rarity value increases in the years to come. One Master (GB) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) fought Veracious all the way to the line to provide the quinella for Pivotal’s broodmare daughters in the Falmouth, while the busy Peach Tree (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) landed the G3 Stanerra S. at Leopardstown on Thursday, following on from stakes wins for Exhort (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}), Defoe (Ire) (Dalakhani {Ire}), Rebecca Rocks (GB) (Exceed And Excel {Aus}), Advertise (GB) (Showcasing {GB}) and Magical (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) in recent weeks.

Must You Go
Gleneagles (Ire) continues to pour on the class at the head of the freshman sires’ table, with the G2 Tattersalls July S. win of Royal Lytham (Fr) adding to the listed Windsor Castle S. victory of Southern Hills (Ire) at Royal Ascot, meaning that the young son of Galileo is well ahead on earnings. His strike-rate of six winners from 17 runners is none too shabby either, even though he is some way short of the numerical lead shown by Gutaifan (Ire) on 15, Cable Bay (Ire) on 12 and Night Of Thunder (Ire) on 11, though it is worth highlighting the particularly good winners-to-runners strike-rate for Night Of Thunder of 55%.

He’s unlikely to be winning any prizes, and commercially he was overlooked from the start, but it is interesting to note that Shadwell’s treble group winner Mustajeeb (GB) already has two winners on the board from just three runners. Following a double strike for the John Ryan-trained Bill Neigh (GB), Ryan’s fellow Newmarket trainer Charlie McBride sent Intimate Moment (GB) to Yarmouth last week, where she recorded a three-length victory over five furlongs. Bred in partnership by Dukes Studs and Overbury Stud, the latter being the base for Mustajeeb for his first two seasons, Intimate Moment is a half-sister to the 102-rated Group 3-placed Firebeam (GB) (Cadeaux Genereux {GB}), out of the Nicolotte (GB) mare Firebelly (GB).

After a break in 2018 when quarantine complications meant he was unable to be exported to South Africa, Mustajeeb stood a season at Haras de Fleury in France this year and he will have another new home in Sweden for the 2020 season.

He not only hails from the same family as Tamayuz (GB) but is by his sire, Nayef. Mustajeeb covered 35 then 16 mares his short stint at Overbury Stud in 2016 and ’17 and could well end up as being one who got away from British breeders if he turns out to be anywhere near as decent as the under-rated Tamayuz.

“I’m pleased to see him make a good start, and especially to see Intimate Moment win so nicely,” said Overbury Stud’s Simon Sweeting, who also stood Kuroshio (Aus) for one season before lack of support ensured that he did not return from Darley Australia for the following three years. “As Kuroshio has shown, they don’t need to cover big books to get some decent runners.”

After the early success of the likes of Kurious (GB) and Dunkerron (GB), Kuroshio, who covered 31 mares the first time around, returned to the northern hemisphere this season to stand at Ireland’s Clongiffen Stud.

Jumping Back To The Flat
In an extremely rare, if not unique occurrence, a Cheltenham Festival winner made a victorious appearance on the Flat in America on Saturday. Veneer Of Charm (Ire) (Fast Company {Ire}) landed the G3 Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2018 for Gordon Elliott and after four subsequent winless appearances has switched to the stable of Richard J Hendricks, who sent him out for three unplaced starts over hurdles before successfully trying him in an allowance race at Delaware Park over 8½ furlongs.

A winner on the level in Ireland for Michael O’Callaghan before being bought by Elliott and Mouse O’Ryan, Veneer Of Charm is a brother to Godolphin’s smart performer Devonshire (Ire), who was third in the Irish 1000 Guineas and won the G2 Lanwades Stud S., and a half-brother to Hurryupharriet (Ire), victrix of the listed Harry Rosebery S.

Veneer Of Charm was in good company when it came to European-bred winners in the U.S. on Saturday, with former Grade 1 winner Capla Temptress (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) also striking at Delaware, Juddmonte’s Juliet Foxtrot (GB) (Dansili {GB}) winning the GIII Modesty H., and Sistercharlie (Ire) (Myboycharlie {Ire}) notching her fifth Grade 1 success in the Diana S. at Saratoga. The latter provided yet another reminder, if one were needed, that her dam Starlet’s Sister (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), who also produced this year’s G1 Prix du Jockey Club winner Sottsass (Fr) (Pivotal {FR}), is now one of the most celebrated broodmares in France, where she resides at Ecurie des Monceaux.

A Boost For Imagery
Francisco Bernal of Outsider Bloodstock made a fair splash at last year’s breeding stock sales on behalf of an unnamed Spanish breeder of sport horses looking to build up a Thoroughbred broodmare band in France. The breeder has already had a decent update for one of the mares purchased, Imagery (Ger) (Monsun {Ger}), whose daughter Ismene (Ger) (Tertullian {Ire}) won Sunday’s listed BBAG Diana Trial at Mulheim for owner-breeder Baron Von Ullmann of Gestut Schlenderhan. She will now head to the Preis der Diana (German Oaks) on Aug. 4.

A listed winner herself, Imagery is a sister G3 Bavarian Classic winner Imonso (Ger) and half-sister to dual Group 3 winner Idealist (Ger) (Tiger Hill {Ire}). At 95,000gns, and sold in foal to Adlerflug (Ger), she was the least expensive of six mares bought by Bernal at the Tattersalls December Sale last year for a total of 1,145,000gns. This followed the purchase of the top lot at the Goffs November Foal Sale, a daughter of Kingman (GB) from Jockey Hall Stud, for €350,000, as well as a half-sister to Sinndar (Ire) from the mares’ sale for €210,000.

Crombez Off At The Double
Sunday proved to be a red-letter day for new French trainer Anne-Sophie Crombez, who posted the first and second winners of her career nine hours apart at Le Touquet and then ParisLongchamp on its headline Bastille Day card.

Dieppe-born Crombez, a former eventer and amateur rider, is the partner of British trainer Gay Kelleway. She has been a licensed trainer in Chantilly only since June, having permanently taken over Kelleway’s temporary French licence. The pair have long had runners in Crombez’s native country and it was fitting that the first winner for Crombez as a trainer came in the colours of Kelleway, who was the first woman ever to ride a winner at Royal Ascot.

Crombez has sent out only Elieden (Ire) (Camacho {Ire}) and Debatable (Ire) (Cape Cross {Ire}) to date from the stable rented from Miriam Bollack-Badel, and they each won on their second start in France under her name.

“I’m so pleased for Anne-Sophie, she’s been working so hard and she really deserved that,” Kelleway told the TDN on Monday. “She has seven horses at the moment. We’ve brought a few back to Newmarket as we’re still learning about what works best in France, although we’ve been running horses over there together for five or six years.”

She continued, “I think Anne-Sophie has blended the best of English and French training methods. She is running the show in France and I am investing in the stable and trying to attract more owners for her. You can make racing pay in France and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

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