Thursday, March 20, 2014


Well, fifth sounds OK, but the margin on the four horses before Single Cask at Nakayama this morning was too big to be happy with the result, especially as it was such a short race. Tosaki-kun got out of the gate well, but there was no energy there to keep him in touch with the leading bunch. More proper training is the only way forward, along with more race experience. But then you can say that about all the JRA horses...

On a similar subject, Belle Plage is back at the Miho Training Centre, but she's so full of race rust, I doubt whether she'll do any good for a long while. I hope I'm wrong, because her record shows she has the potential to be a winner.

PS. Beat The Boarder has picked up a minor injury, having pulled a muscle, and is now off for some R&R until training can resume.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Phosphorus V1

Courtesy Rika Watanabe
Good ol' Phosphorus came through to claim his first win at Funabashi today, although he still managed to give Kota (the jockey) a heart-stopping moment when he slowed right down as soon as he hit the front! This is where his youth still shows, and it was also interesting to see him after the race - no heavy breathing and a healthy appetite. In other words, he's still nowhere near running flat-out. In fact, apart from a
little bit of sweat and a touch higher tension than normal, you wouldn't know he'd been in a race! This is fascinating to me, because it makes you wonder what he will be capable of if he puts his mind to it - Yano-sensei had him down for a three- or four-length victory. Cheek pieces and/or a shadow roll will help him concentrate, so I think we can expect to see him with some different headgear at the next Funabashi meeting. There are thoughts of running him on either the 7th or 8th April, and I'm already looking forward to it. Meanwhile, time to crack open a bottle to celebrate a win that to me, means the most of them all so far. Hearty congratulations to all concerned - a fine piece of teamwork...


Let's just get the Carrot Club stuff and of the way, and then I can concentrate on something a lot more interesting and a whole lot less annoying. Tenshinramman is on a walking machine, with thoughts of increasing the load to see if the nosebleed has stopped. Well, if it was bad enough to ship her away, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for an all-clear.

Miracle Rouge had a wasted outing, with all her good conditioning lost overnight. Back to R&R, with a plan to race her again before summer, because, as we all know, the trainers try and avoid the summer heat. And then, guess what, it's time to start ditching them all in time for new blood to be sold. So in other words, she'll have one more shot if she's lucky. Dinner Bell has also gone on an R&R trip, although I wouldn't have bothered - my next truck journey would have been taking the animal straight to a riding club! Sophisticate is tired, despite having an easier schedule than 'Jaguar', and Belle Plage needs "a little more." This horse hasn't even appeared in photos since October 2013, making me wonder whether it actually exists any more. Same with Glint Moment - a cut and paste-style comment once every few weeks seems a good way of making money.

Courtesy Carrot Club
Finally, Irish Harp (pictured here). Well, she's earned herself a priority rating, and the trainer is saying we saw huge progress in the last race - it should be a win next time around, especially as a more suitable race can be chosen. I would like to point out that yes, progress was made on the first dirt race, and yes, third place was her best result so far, but she was way off the pace at the end of the day. Not only that, she was half-a-second down on her losing margin in her first turf race (0.8 versus 0.3 seconds first time out). As such, I wouldn't start doing cartwheels assuming you've found the right formula - 0.8 seconds is an eternity in this sport...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Morning News

Phosphorus is running at Funabashi today, which should be fun as there's a great team behind him, and Single Cask has been confirmed for the third race (1200m on dirt) at Nakayama on the 21st. Tosaki-san is in the saddle for the JRA race, and that's good news as far as I'm concerned.

Meanwhile, Agua De Vida is back walking around nicely enough, but in no fit state to race. The Yamazaki family are doing their best to get her back into form, using therapy specialists, but there are no guarantees she will ever race again - it all depends on her response to the treatment...

River Spirit

The 'Avonbridge Filly' in the Lord Ilsley Racing syndicate ran from Mick Channon's stables in the UK has been named River Spirit. Her sire is an English horse called Avonbridge, who was a European champion sprinter, taking the GI Prix L'Abbaye as well as six other races from 22 starts. He also claimed second place four times, and four thirds - this bodes well for the filly, as she's built like a sprinter. Avonbridge's father was an old warrior called Averti, but his sire was Warning - a winner of the coveted Queen Elizabeth Stakes that carried a good dose of Roberto DNA. Imperial Jade was the dam of Averti, with Lochnager as the damsire. On the female side, Avonbridge's mother was Alessia (owned by the same people as Avonbridge), who passed on Nijinsky's precious blood via Caerleon.

The filly's dam is Pooka's Daughter, who won three races before becoming a broodmare. She passes on Danzig blood on the male side, and Statoblest blood (an Irish winner of the King George Stakes) on the female side. There's nothing amazing in the dam lines, but each of the ladies has produced its fair share of winners, with Gaelic's Fantasy and Morning Welcome between them giving birth to no less than 16 winners from 20 foals.

She had a bug or two during the long, wet winter, but is now clearing up nicely, and looking good on the gallops again, eating well and eager to please. I'm looking forward to seeing her race...

Monday, March 17, 2014

All For One

Just heard that Porthos Du Vallon will start jump schooling in about two weeks, and sounds eager to please. A horse that wants to run - and I mean gallop, not slow canter - just for the hell of it, will always provide a trainer with a firm foundation on which to build.

Also saw a very nice article on Ilka - the lady training Godiva's Pride in Newmarket. If you'd like to see it, please use the following link: Thoroughly recommended...

PS. Godiva's Pride had his first run up Warren Hill on the 18th - a legendary place, full of romance for followers of racing lore, in the ancestral home of racing. Wish I could have been there to see it. Must get back to Blighty one of these days!  

The Big Fella

Phosphorus is indeed out again on the 19th, racing in the 3R (1500m) with Kota Motohashi in the saddle - something to look forward to. As Yano-sensei says: "If he gets out the gate and concentrates, he should win." Even if he doesn't, I know for a fact that it won't be from a lack of trying - the NAR spirit is based on pride.

At the other end of the scale, having finished work for the day - a tough session going through hundreds of pages of parts books - I thought I'd check up on my old horses that Carrot Club and the JRA trainers could do nothing with, but are now running in NAR. Here we go: Mosto Verde 2-6-1 from nine races, Quick Bread 2-7-3 from 16, and Lourdes No Hitomi 1-0-2 from four. Yes, it's obvious they were all useless. Oh, hold on! That's a lot of wins and top three places. In fact, between them, from 29 races, they only finished outside the top three on five occasions. Something is wrong somewhere, isn't it?

Sunday, March 16, 2014


The visitor log passed the 40,000 mark this morning. It's a shame there's very little in the way of good news to report on the racing front - in fact, most of the Carrot Club results have been beyond disappointing, taking me to the stage of wishing I had never seen one of their catalogues! Tenshinramman has just been shipped off to rest, and although nothing has been said officially, reading between the lines with my own experience added in, I imagine that is the end of her career - perhaps a mystery has been answered, too. The usually reliable Miracle Rouge just ran the worst race of her life, and if Chukyo was chosen simply because there was a berth in the starting gate (the choice certainly wasn't a logical one), then it only reinforces my earlier statement that there are too many horses and not enough races in Japan. As for Harmony Fair, she should never have been kept, and even Mistoffelees screwed up badly the other day, too.

Regarding the 3YO JRA crop, it looks like there isn't a good one amongst them (or more correctly, due to widespread incompetence and the blind leading the blind, they have little chance of ever reaching their potential, despite multi-million dollar training facilities), and the NAR filly is walking a tightrope - we will have to wait for an injury to clear up, and one simply doesn't know when or even if that will happen. I'm at the point where I'm almost looking forward to September when I can take a ton of names off the bottom of this page, for the chances of getting a win from any of these nags is about the same as me winning the lottery, and that's a slim chance seeing as I never buy a ticket! At least with 14 or 15 less horses in the mix in six months time (including a Sunday TC JRA runner), I can divert funds to a more worthy cause - one that actually deserves my support. It would take a miracle to get me back into the faceless Carrot Club and JRA fold. And let's be realistic, they can't even be bothered to respond to a letter, so the odds on them creating a miracle are very long indeed...

The surprising thing is I'm not alone in my observations on this subject - it's not just gaijin eyes that have exposed the flaws in a system that simply uses horses to turn over money, with not a single thought devoted to improving conditions as long as profits remain sky-high. For this reason, I shall devote 100% of my attention to NAR activities in Japan at the soonest possible juncture (probably 18 months, as I have a niggling feeling that the 2YO Carrot horses will be no better than the last lot), where things are rough and ready, but horsemen - and ladies - dominate, rather than beancounters. I shall also give a lot more support to the stables in Australia and the UK, as well as Ireland at some stage in the future. I'm not worried about winning all the while. I just want to see visible effort and some passion, and horses being treated as something special - not pawns in a game that quite frankly stinks. I think it may be time for me to rekindle an old Toyota contact - I haven't spoken to him for a long time, but his position in the JRA hierarchy could make for an interesting coffee break!

Thankfully, as we hit a landmark on the blog, there are a few signs of a brighter future on the racing front. Godiva's Pride is back on form after a training mishap, Lord Ilsley's syndicate is fun, and I'm looking forward to seeing my first steeplechaser in action soon. In Australia, Raining Dollars looks a peach, and I appreciate all the effort JLH put in - a worthy cause if ever there was one. Also, the NAR circus moves to Funabashi this week (my home track) with Phosphorus in action on Wednesday. In the background, we have the various competitions the kids are entering, with progress on all fronts, so at least we can finish with a bit of hope.