Friday, April 18, 2014


Courtesy Carrot Club
I was going to entitle this article 'Limit Reached', but in reality I'd reached my limit with Carrot Club ages ago, and Sophisticate's outing 30 minutes earlier simply confirmed my stance. For a horse that came a promising fourth in its first race, Sophisticate has done nothing but disappoint since. Tenth was the best he could do today, a full 2.8 seconds down (or about 17 lengths adrift!) on the winner, and completely out of touch with all the horses ahead of him. This is beyond a joke. Although he looks beautiful, he has no right to be near a race track as long as his performances are at this level. I would question the race distance first and foremost, for his only decent run came at 1400m - today was a furlong-and-a-half longer than that, and all the poor races have been at a mile or more on dirt. If he is to run again, and personally I wouldn't bother unless some serious changes are made to his training programme and/or entry policy, I would like to see him tackle a mile on turf to see what happens. Again and again, all we see is Carrot Club and the clueless JRA trainers trying something that obviously doesn't work on multiple occasions, when club horses don't have that many chances to waste...

And Another Few...

Joyful Step is back at Miho Training Centre - at last! If you remember, she passed her gate test and then got injured, so has never been near a race track. In reality, there's still no guarantee she'll get near one now, as she is way behind all the other three-year olds in the experience stakes, and had real chance to build up her body to a competitive level.

Talking of strangers to the track, Belle Plage makes a welcome - if long overdue - return. This horse was fourth and then second in her two races, but the last outing was July, so I don't think we can expect much. Nonetheless, she is booked for the 1200m turf race at Fukushima on the 27th, with Hiyato Yoshida in the saddle. Irish Harp, another Carrot Club filly, should race at Kyoto on the same day in a 1400m dirt run, with Kenichi Ikezoe at the controls.

Looking still further ahead and switching to both NAR and the Shadai TC, with luck, Phosphorus will be out on the 8th or 9th of May at Funabashi.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Few More...

A few more Carrot updates as they come in. Harmony Fair, as expected, has been shipped off for an R&R session, so that's her as good as finished as far as I'm concerned. And ironically, all sorts of experiments - trying blinkers and cheek pieces, et cetera - are being carried out on Mephisto Waltz. I say ironically, because a) it's too late in the game to start doing that type of thing now, when it should have been identified as a potential fix months ago, and b) it's not really worth the effort with this horse.

A couple of race dates for you: Sophisticate runs in the Fukushima 5R on the 19th - a 1700m dirt run, with Masaki Katsuura in the saddle, while True Motion (from the same stables) is booked for an 1800m turf race at Tokyo-Fuchu on the 26th. If the entry is approved, Hironobu Tanabe will be the jockey.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Quick Update

Working in Tokyo all day yesterday, and so I never had a chance to do much of anything, while today has been spent writing a section on one of the two books currently in motion. I managed to escape the office for a bit, though, and with the kids finishing school early, we had a nice time walking together in the countryside with a now fit and spritely 'Jaguar' - he loved every minute of it. He's got a heavy weekend ahead of him, with various competition outings lined up, so the quiet stroll will definitely stand him in good stead.

Courtesy Lamont Racing
I've had a few pictures come through from JLH Racing in Australia, with Raining Dollars looking well, although the heavy storm that just passed over the east coast would definitely put a damper on training - in more ways than one. The black, orange and white silks look superb, too.

Porthos Du Vallon (left) is a monster, and I can't wait to see him jumping in anger. And River Spirit is a beauty. Lord Ilsley kindly sent a video across, and she's a real flyer. With any luck, she'll be making her debut in about three weeks. Wish her luck!

In Japan, the Sunday Thoroughbred Club horses Beat The Boarder and Divine Daughter are both in walking wounded mode, but getting back on the road to recovery.

Courtesy Carrot Club
On the Carrot Club front, Tenshinramman is due to run again in the summer, which is far from ideal; Miracle Rouge has Niigata in her sights, and Mistoffelees (pictured on the right) is supposed to have one more race before the classes change. Joyful Step might eventually get back to the racing stables (for the first time since November 2013), although I wouldn't bank on it. It would be much easier to get me to lay money on Glint Moment never racing, now on walking machine duty.

As for the Carrot Club youngsters, Massabielle isn't eating and is also on a walking machine, while Time For Love has lost 11kg in the last month. Not looking good, is it? At least War Chronicle offers a bit of hope, with a body check due in the next two or three days, and J'ai Un Reve is said to be coming along nicely, moving well and showing signs of real power.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Leaky Barrels & A Lack Of Harmony

It's hard to say what the score is with Single Cask. Starting as fourth favourite, Maruyama (who actually did the last training session with the horse) is saying he felt he could win, but fifth is a long way off that, and even though second through fifth were all close, the winner romped home by quite some margin. So, will that necessary win come? If I was a gambling man, I'd put the odds at about 10/1 - it's not impossible, but the conditions and race scenario would have to be just right, as she's obviously not a distance runner.

Meanwhile, from today's performance and the decent burst for the line, one can conclude that 1200m is probably too short a distance for Harmony Fair - at least on turf. On saying that, had she raced yesterday (which, if you read the blog, you'll know that is what I was hoping for), she would have posted the same time as the winner of the 8R, and would now be guaranteed a future had she managed to edge out in front. As it is - once again! - the trainer aimed far too high, and she came home in seventh, 0.9 seconds down on the top pony. One can only assume the trainer is either incapable of learning from mistakes - which, it has to be said, seems par for the course at JRA establishments - or he needs space at the stables for a customer that pays better than Carrot Club does. Whatever, one thing is for sure - we might as well write her off. If a trainer enters a horse in race as 11th favourite of 16 runners, he obviously has no intentions whatsoever of giving the nag a shot at winning.

On a brighter note, at least 'Jaguar' was back in form today, going for a nice stroll in the countryside to freshen him up. I thought I'd give him a good brushing down afterwards to dislodge the last of his winter coat, but he wasn't having any of it - he sensed it was close to lunchtime, and his stable was calling strongly as a result. With an appetite like that, there's nothing seriously wrong, that's for sure!