No Deep Impact But JRHA Select Sale Still Set To Make Its Mark

Foal inspections at the JRHA Sale at the Northern Horse Park | Emma Berry


There are bloodstock sales and then there's the JRHA Select Sale. The premier sale for Thoroughbreds in Japan, held at Hokkaido's Northern Horse Park, is truly out of the ordinary as far as these events go.

The yearling section of the sale, which this year features 234 entries taking into account withdrawals at the time of writing, follows a fairly traditional format (though the sale's website does include a document noting the yearlings' heights, girth and cannon bone measurements, vices, and any surgical intervention), but it is the following day's session of foals that gives the JRHA Select Sale its unique feel. The foals arrive with their dams at Northern Horse Park early on the morning of the sale, though potential buyers have already visited the individual consigning farms for yearling and foal shows prior to auction. On sale morning, there is a two-hour window for further viewing, with several hundred foals and their usually fairly illustrious mothers standing in lot order among the trees in the park for the fanciest mass line-up of Thoroughbred stock in the world. They then proceed to the ring in tandem, and the foals, once sold, return to their original farm until they are weaned.

During the first year of the pandemic, figures dipped slightly from the then-record-breaking year of 2019, but by 2021, more records were set, with the highest turnover ever seen across the two-day sale of ¥22.5 billion (€163m/£138m) for 226 yearlings and 213 foals sold. Covid restrictions are now more relaxed in Japan and the JRHA's international representative Naohiro Goda says they they expect to have more trainers, owners, agents and media returning to the sale this year, with some American and Australian agents having already arrived in Hokkaido.

For the first time, and in a move which has proved highly effective in other jurisdictions, the JRHA will be accepting online bidding from international buyers.

Japanese bloodstock continues to advertise its merit on racecourses around the world, and inspection of the Select Sale catalogue demonstrates just how highly prized top-class international form is for Japanese breeders when it comes to assembling broodmare bands. Whatever your nationality, there will be mares throughout the pages who are instantly memorable, usually because of their Group/Grade 1 racing form.

For the first time since he arrived on the scene as a stallion of note, there will be no Deep Impact (Jpn) yearlings on offer in Hokkaido, the great sire having died in 2019, leaving a small final crop born in 2020. Poignantly, his 31-year-old dam Wind In Her Hair (Ire) (Alzao) still resides within sight of the sale at the Northern Horse Park with her pony companions.

Deep Impact does still have the edge in Japan's leading sires' table so far this season, but his lead over the former leading first-crop sire Lord Kanaloa (Jpn) is slim. The latter, also a Shadai stallion, is represented by 11 yearlings and nine foals in the JRHA Select catalogue, including a yearling filly (lot 14) out of the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac winner Lily's Candle (Fr) (Style Vendome {Fr}), who was bred in Normandy by Monique Lepeudry at Elevage de Tourgeville. Her close family also includes the former Japanese Horse of the Year and G1 Cox Plate winner Lys Gracieux (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}).

Homecoming Queen (Ire) (Holy Roman Emperor {Ire}) and Jet Setting (Ire) (Fast Company {Ire}), 1000 Guineas winners in England and Ireland respectively, are each represented by yearlings in the sale. The former, a half-sister to Arc winner Dylan Thomas (Ire) and champion 2-year-old filly Queen's Logic (Ire) (Grand Lodge), has a colt by Maurice (Jpn) catalogued as lot 55, while Jet Setting's Frankel (GB) colt is slated as lot 23.

Another close relation to a European Classic winner can be found as lot 16, who is the half-brother to Irish Oaks winner Covert Love (Ire) (Azamour {Ire}) and by the current first-crop sire Satono Diamond (Jpn).

G1 VRC Oaks winner Mosheen (Aus) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}), whose other top-class victories included the G1 Australian Guineas and G1 Royal Randwick Guineas, is another to have visited Maurice in 2020, and her yearling colt is consigned by Northern Farm as lot 76. The 14-year-old mare is already the dam of treble Group 3 winner Primo Scene (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) and she is doubly represented in the sale as her Epiphaneia (Jpn) colt foal is due to sell on Tuesday as lot 367.

Yoshida is a name which will be oft-heard through the sale: the brothers Teruya and Katsumi are the most dominant breeders and consignors represented, each with sizeable drafts in both sectors, while another brother, Haruya, will also play a part via his Oiwake Farm. But Yoshida (Jpn) also appears on the sires' list through one of his first crop of American-conceived yearlings. The son of Hearts's Cry (Jpn) stands at Winstar Farm and is the sire of lot 77, a granddaughter of the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and GI Matron S. winner Folklore (Tiznow).

The dual Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow (Ire) is another with first yearlings and he has two catalogued, lots 192 and 203.

The foal section includes lot 314, an Epiphaneia half-brother to Japanese Derby winner Roger Barows (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), whose dam Little Book (GB) (Librettist) is a half-sister to Group 1 winner Donna Blini (GB) (Bertolini), later better known as the dam of dual Japanese Horse of the Year Gentildonna (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}). Three of the first crop of foals of Juddmonte's G1 Irish 2000 Guineas winner Siskin will also make an appearance.

Looking ahead to the start of the sale on Monday, Naohiro Goda said, “The quality of the catalogue this year is the best I have seen. This is first JRHA catalogue which does not include Deep Impact, and we understand that it is impossible that one single stallion plays his role. Instead, however, the variation and depth of stallions we have in this year's catalogue is amazing, as there are so many young proven stallions, such as Lord Kanaloa, Epiphaneia, Duramente (Jpn), Maurice, Kizuna (Jpn), Drefong, and so on. In addition, hugely exciting unproven stallions will be represented by their young crops, such as Rey De Oro (Jpn), whose first foals made such a big splash last year, Bricks And Mortar, Suave Richard (Jpn), New Year's Day, Siskin, Nadal, Admire Mars (Jpn), Le Vent Se Leve (Jpn), and Saturnalia (Jpn).”

Goda added, “It will not be easy to break last year's new record but we hope the market at the 2022 Select Sale is as active as it was last year.”

The JRHA Select Sale starts on Monday with the yearling session, followed on Tuesday by the foals.

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