Kitasan Black in Demand at Record JRHA Sale, 97% Clearance

Katsumi Yoshida addresses the press corps | Emma Berry


HOKKAIDO, Japan–“Welcome from the USA, from Europe, from Down Under,” said Naohiro Goda at Sunday evening's party on the eve of the JRHA Select Sale. The welcome in Japan is always warm, but what is clear is that the extraordinary demand for racehorses in the country makes it difficult for those overseas visitors to make much of a mark in the ring where, once again, new record prices for turnover and average were set on Monday. 

The names on the list of buyers were exclusively Japanese, bar that of David Redvers, who signed for a filly from the second crop of Suave Richard (Jpn). Encouragingly for breeders in Japan, that list included a number of new buyers at the top end of the market. 

Various factors are at play, and they should be the envy of every other major racing nation in the world. The success of Japanese horses worldwide has been written about at length in recent years, and we can only expect to see more runners from this country tackle the global festivals, particularly those in the Middle East with vast sums on offer in prize-money. But vast sums are also the reward for staying at home, and the purses in Japan, along with mass engagement with racing fans of all ages, are elements which are not unrelated and which have driven turnover at this sale to have doubled in a decade. 

It is easy for people unfamiliar with the Japanese currency on a daily basis to look at the string of noughts after a number and think, “Ah well, that's yen.” But with a useful dollar conversion on the bid board for each lot one suddenly realises that almost all of the 222 yearlings offered were making six-figure dollar prices (only six did not reach that mark on Monday, and a further six were unsold) and 19 of those  sold for more than a million dollars. Of course, this is a select sale featuring the elite of the Japanese Thoroughbred crops of 2022 and 2023, or at least those that are offered for sale, but the sheer breadth of the domestic buying bench, which includes plenty of racing clubs, and a clearance rate of 97.3% are both noteworthy.

When speaking to the TDN on Friday, Teruya Yoshida, the owner of Shadai Farm and president of the JRHA sale company, referred to the strength of the racing clubs, which have been a feature in Japan for around 40 years, long before other countries followed suit.

“As you know, our prize-money is so good,” he said. “So not only do [the members] enjoy racing but they get a good return on their money, so why not? Racing has been very popular in Japan for many years but still now the number is increasing. Many young people come to the racetrack, and I think this is quite different from Europe. They bet a huge amount and that returns to the purses. That's the biggest advantage for Japan: that way we can afford to buy plenty of mares for many years, and that's why we have become so successful. 

“Japanese owners have a tendency to race their horses as much as possible. In Europe they are racing for breeding in the future but our goal is racing. That's the biggest concern for our owners.”

From wealthy individuals to the collective buying power of the club, a wide range of purchasers drove the demand for yearlings from many of those top-class mares sourced from around the globe into new record territory. The day's aggregate stood at ¥13.36 billion ($93.75m/£73.3m/€85.6m) and the average at ¥61.88 million ($434,509/£339,411/€396,279).



The Main Talking Points

  • Masahiro Noda's Danox Co Ltd is a familiar name on the buyers' sheet at JRHA and was prominent once more. Noda signed for seven yearlings, including the day's co-topper, lot 4, the ¥310 million ($2.2m) colt by Kitasan Black (Jpn) out of the GI Mother Goose S. winner Include Betty (Include), who was bred and sold by Katsumi Yoshida's Northern Farm.
  • Kitasan Black, a brilliant racehorse himself with seven top-level wins including the Japan Cup and Arima Kinen, is now known as much for being the sire of the world's top-rated racehorse Equinox (Jpn). The Shadai Stallion Station resident had six yearlings offered on Tuesday, sold for a collective ¥977 million ($6.8m) at an average of ¥163 million ($1.14m).
  • European sires did not, understandably, feature in abundance in the catalogue, but one of the highlights of the day came with the sale of the sole Wootton Bassett (GB) yearling in the catalogue, a full-brother to Alison Swinburn's GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf and G1 Prix Jean Romanet winner Audarya (Fr).  Teruya Yoshida had bought her dam, the Doumen-bred and-trained Green Bananas (Fr) (Green Tune), in a private transaction and sent the mare on a return visit to Wootton Bassett at Coolmore before bringing her to Japan. From the family of top world travellers Jim And Tonic (Fr) and Mauralakana (Fr), the colt (lot 102) was bought by Makoto Kaneko, former owner of Deep Impact (Jpn), for ¥270 million ($1.9m).
  • There was similar success for Shunsuke Yoshida's colt by Kingman (GB) out of the Littleton Stud-bred Cosmopolitan Queen (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), a full-sister to G1 Juddmonte International winner Arabian Queen (GB). The mare had been bought carrying this colt (lot 16) at Tattersalls for 320,0000gns. She is already the dam of a dual winner by Frankel (GB) and this grandson of the G2 Lancashire Oaks winner Barshiba (GB) (Barathea {Ire}), from a family synonymous with Jeff Smith and the stable of David Elsworth, duly fetched ¥300 million ($2.1m) to a bid from TN Racing.
  • The businessman behind the relatively new outfit TN Racing prefers not to be named but he nevertheless made a significant impact at the sale on Monday. His eight purchases totalled ¥1.2 billion ($8.5m) and included one of the day's co-top lots (20), a Silver State (Jpn) half-brother to the G1 Belmont S. winner Palace Malice (Curlin) and three-parts-brother to GI Tenno Sho (Spring) winner Justin Palace (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}). TN Racing currently campaigns the 3-year-old colt Photon Blue (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}), a ¥135 million Select Yearling purchase in 2021 and third in the Listed Principal S. at Toyko this past May.
  • Monday marked the last time the late Duramente (Jpn) would feature among the Select Sale yearlings. The sire of this season's dual Classic-winning filly Liberty Island (Jpn) sits in second place in the sires' list and his 14 yearlings to pass through the ring returned an average price of ¥105 million ($737,000). These included the half-sister to dual Horse of the Year Gentildonna (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), who sold as lot 94 from Northern Farm and was among the TN Racing purchases at ¥210 million ($1.5m).
  • Bricks and Mortar, a son of Giant's Causeway and a champion on the turf in America, has his first runners this season and has been represented by two winners to date. He was well represented by members of his second crop during the yearling session, with 13 sold for an average ¥63 million ($442,000). Two of those made in excess of a million dollars, including lot 75, a colt out of the Group 2-winning sprinter Solveig (Jpn) (Daiwa Major {Jpn}) who was bought from Shadai Farm for ¥220 million ($1.5m) by Susumu Fujita.
  • Unusually for bloodstock sales, the reserve prices for the yearlings in Japan are published ahead of the sale, though it is traditional for the first and last lot though the ring to be offered without reserve. There was little danger that the sale would start with a whimper rather than a bang, however, as first up was a colt by the popular Kizuna (Jpn) out of the G1 Queensland Oaks victrix Youngstar (Aus) (High Chaparral {Aus}). He got the day off to a successful start when selling for ¥210 million ($1.5m) and was another on the list of Susumu Fujita.
  • Suave Richard (Jpn) has made a positive start with his first juvenile runners this year and already has four winners on the board, to put him in second place behind the dirt miler Moanin. David Redvers, who has been at the sale with the Qatar Racing team of Sheikh Fahad, Hannah Wall and Peter Molony, was the sole overseas purchaser listed on Monday when signing at ¥50 million ($350k) for a yearling by Suave Richard, who was ridden to glory in the Japan Cup by Qatar Racing's jockey Oisin Murphy. The filly (lot 202), a half-sister to the shuttle sire Tosen Stardom (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), will be trained by Mitsumasa Nakauchida.




View From Yoshida

Katsumi Yoshida, director of the JRHA and the sale's leading consignor through his Northern Farm, addressed the large press pack in attendance at Northern Horse Park at the close of the day's trade.

He said, “It was a very strong market this year again. I think every year this is the strongest market in the world. The horses sold well within every price range and there were some new buyers who were very active and bought some of the expensive horses.”

Yoshida continued, “I am especially pleased with the results because there are none of the 'big three' stallions now–Deep Impact, King Kamehameha and Heart's Cry–but all the stallions were well received across the range of stud fees. 

“We had seven yearlings by Duramente that were sold for over ¥100 million today. This is his last crop, so they had a premium on them, but they had good pedigrees top and bottom. 

“We are looking forward to tomorrow. The foals are very good and the market should be strong again.”

The foal session gets underway at 9.30am local time after a 90-minute viewing session of the youngsters and their dams within the park.


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