Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Crap Continues

Ettie Hart runs today at Salisbury, with Million Ways out on the 5th at Funabashi. Other than that, there's nothing much happening. Looking at the Carrot Club reports, War Chronicle, Perfumer, Rush Attack and Massabielle should all be retired, as none of them are strong enough - mentally or physically - to be true racehorses. They are simply a drain on resources that offer nothing in terms of ownership, which I'm starting to believe is the case with most Japanese horses. How they got that way, particularly in the case of Massabielle, is a question that should be addressed, but it never will be, for this is Japan we're talking about...

PS. At least Ettie put in a nice run, finishing second by a neck. It was also announced that Lillyput will be entered in a race at Yarmouth on Thursday. Then we have Million Ways and Masterson on Friday, and Infinity Love on Sunday. Larressingle should be out the week after - we'll have to see how it goes, for despite what the Carrot report states, the loss was not from marking (as in blocking, which is all too common out here), and can be put down to a jockey miss if anything; the only marking was when he went off line and bumped another horse, while the winner flew past fair and square down the outside, a full 0.5 seconds faster over the last 3F.

The Near Future

After something of a rough patch, we have Sayesse teaming up with Charlie Bishop at Goodwood tomorrow, and Larressingle in JRA action on Sunday. We've lost the services of Monsieur Lemaire for the latter, so with this in mind, plus the break from the track, I don't think our chances are brilliant. But at least it is running, which is more than can be said for the vast majority of the Japanese nags!

Million Ways is said to be much better and ready to run at Funabashi in the first week of August, while Shine Tiara should be out a few weeks later at the end of the month. At least it has been realized that something worthwhile needs to happen with these two, and I shall be waiting for a decent result on both - wins preferably, to start clawing back some of the monthly bills, with top three positions as a minimum, otherwise it's time to throw in the towel as far as I'm concerned. Another Door should be running again in the middle of August, but will need to win at least twice back-to-back just to cover the monthly bills at this low level of competition. Pop Label is due out at the end of August, and this one really needs a result, too! It has had a series of bad race and jockey choices that hasn't helped its chances, so I hope this is borne in mind next time around.

Meanwhile, Massabielle sounds like it should be retired, along with Rush Attack, and I'm not sure what to think about Chocolat Sucre either to be honest. Trovao is apparently rested up, but its meaningful campaign is probably behind it now - it will be lucky to cover its expenses from now on I guess, if ever it escapes Northern Farm. Kealoha also looks like being a long-term resident at NF, despite talk of an imminent return to Funabashi a few weeks ago, and Magic Key (having cost a hefty 16,000,000 yen) and Phosphorus will probably be there forever.

As for newcomers, Vertice, which should have made its debut at the end of June, should now be going to Arayama-sensei's place in TCK in mid-August. There's no way it will start racing straight away, so it's going to have to start winning as soon as it hits the tracks, otherwise it's yet another waste of money. Likewise, Lotus Blossom, which is going to Yuta Sato at Funabashi during the autumn, again if it can ever break loose of Northern Farm.

PS. Magic Key should be returning to Funabashi at the end of August, meaning it won't run before early September at best, and with the gigantic upfront finances on this nag (and most of those in the new Shadai and Sunday catalogues it should noted, hence my refusal to buy anything else!), it really needs to win every month just to break even, and that's before eating into the initial sky-high purchase costs by any kind of significant amount (bite-size chunks on the world's biggest pizza) and covering the months of paying out before a debut. Too little, too late, I'm afraid. Magic key? More like a key to bankruptcy. One of the worst equine investments I've made, although J'ai Un Reve still holds the crown on that one, thanks to the lack of effort from Ikee. 

PPS. Poor Sayesse was outgunned at Goodwood, although, to be fair, it was a very high-class field.  Larressingle was a strong second in Japan after a fine run - we'll have to wait and see what the post-race inspection brings us before knowing what happens next. Next up, Ettie Hart and Killian Hennessy at Salisbury on the 2nd August.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Still Naff

Those JRA statistics we noted in the last post aren't going to improve any time soon, with "autumn" being cited for Belle Plage (months away), Perfumer is still "stiff" (it's never been any good anyway, and the chances of it improving keep reducing the longer it stays away from the track), while War Chronicle is injured yet again. Seriously, there is no option but to retire this horse, as it's ridiculously fragile, even compared to the other Japanese nags, which - even at the best of times - are more akin to Noritake ceramics than the Sheffield steel constitution of the UK beasts...

Another Door started well enough and quickly took up the pace, but ran out of steam big time at the end, finishing 0.5 seconds down on the winner and also in the final 3F stakes. An improvement? Well, we can say we saw some effort, which is an improvement of sorts, as none was seen in the first two outings, but the third was lucky - a few more yards and it would have been sixth place rather than third, and even the prize money for third spot doesn't cover a tenth of monthly running costs! We also have to remember (as you'll have guessed from the poxy pot) that this was a donkey derby level race, although we can take some heart from the fact that we would have won the sister race (the 2R) with our time. Ready for Nankan? Definitely not. Will it ever do well in Nankan racing? Probably not. Worth the 16,000,000 yen purchase price? Definitely not.

At least we have Masterson and The Jazz Singer tonight to give us some real entertainment, with the latter in a three-mile hurdle. We may also have some other UK runners in the week and over the weekend, but nothing confirmed as yet. We've also got All Rosie out in Australia tomorrow. Amazingly, we may have a couple of JRA runners, too - Larressingle at Sapporo on the 31st, and Infinity Love at Kokura on the following weekend; Another Door is due to go out again in a couple of weeks as well.

PS. The Jazz Singer picked up a few quid with a fourth place on ground that really didn't suit him. Indeed, I was forewarned that this was a training run as much as a competitive entry due to the very soft going. A few hours later, Masterson gave a typically brave performance, taking up the pace for most of the race, but tired at the end to come home a fighting sixth, less than three lengths down on the winner. Disaster in Oz after the starters screwed up the gate loading - the poor thing was sat in the stalls for that long, it couldn't focus and blew the start completely. In a sprint, that's the end of it before things even get rolling. At least we have Sayesse at Goodwood tomorrow...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Playing With Numbers

Some statistics for you: 11 NAR horses have run 36 times this year, a figure boosted by eight runs from Phosphorus alone, six for Shine Tiara, and two horses on five outings each. Take those out of the equation, and the value-for-money aspect on the other seven horses looks dismal - almost as dismal as the 19 outings from the seven JRA nags, for 12 of them came from three horses (four races each), meaning the other four have run just seven times between them this year. For comparison, of the six UK horses, one still has to make its debut, while Blacklister has ran 12 times already this year, Ettie Hart is on nine runs, Sayesse on seven, and Masterson and Lillyput on six apiece - a total of 40 runs so far this year!

Which offers the best value? No contest. 55 races from 18 horses in Japan, where purchase and running costs are very high, versus 40 runs from six in the UK - an average of 6.67 races per horse, against 3.05 in Japan. Ah, but what about win rates and the huge prize money in Japan? Umm. Well, a 0-2-0-17 record in JRA brings in next to nothing compared to sky-high running costs! And there's no money in NAR anyway, especially when JRA interlopers take all the big pots, while a 5-6-3-22 record doesn't even come close to covering costs (nowhere near, in fact), and that's before taking the silly purchase prices into account. Despite some of the horses costing about the same to buy as a month's keeping fee in Japan (that is not an exaggeration, by the way), the UK win-place-show rate is nonetheless a highly-respectable 6-6-3-25, and, unlike NAR, the need to win just to break even doesn't exist. For me at least, visible effort is more important than winning, and again, the UK comes out ahead - the majority of trainers in Japan seem to be happy simply making up numbers to fill starting gates. Add in the extremely poor resale values in Japan on club retirement against a generally good return on the English horses, and the reasons for staying in Japanese racing decrease even further. For me, the few remaining reasons disappeared completely after the Tokyo Derby, but the figures here speak for themselves.

PS. Within a couple of hours of putting this up, Another Door has just been declared a runner at Monbetsu on Wednesday - well, blow me down with a feather! Assuming it does run, that takes the average entry up to 3.11 races per horse this year. But there's a catch, of course. Even in the highly unlikely event of it winning (it would have to improve by a staggering amount), the minuscule pot still isn't large enough to cover the monthly keeping fees, let alone start eating into that hefty 16,000,000 yen purchase price! Although it's good to see something running - at last! - it's still a rather pathetic situation.