Hong Kong pair arrives for Yasuda Kinen (G1)
Hong Kong's two runners for the 62nd running of the Yasuda Kinen (G1) arrived safely at Narita Airport on Tuesday, May 22 and were transported to quarantine as they completed their trip from their Sha Tin Racecourse training ground. The two – Glorious Days and Lucky Nine – became the only two runners from overseas to participate in the Yasuda Kinen this year, after the sudden withdrawal of Hong Kong's Fair Trade.
The two geldings landed at Narita International Airport east of Tokyo shortly after 6 a.m. and were transported to the JRA Horseracing School Quarantine Center in Shiroi, Chiba Prefecture, where they arrived just before 9:30 a.m. There, the two have begun acclimatization and final preparations for the Yasuda Kinen to be held at Tokyo Racecourse on June 3. They are expected to move to the Tokyo venue's international stables early next week.
Kin Yiu Yan, assistant trainer for the 5-year-old gelding Glorious Days said, "It is his first trip overseas but he was very calm. The trainer has given instructions to gallop him on the 25th and on the 28th." Glorious Days is trained by John Size and owned by Tom Brown's Syndicate, which currently has only the one horse racing in Hong Kong.
Lucky Nine, also a 5-year-old gelding, was reported to be doing fine as well following his second flight to Japan. According to assistant trainer Dale Bussey, "The trip went well and he is doing well. The trainer was pleased too. We don't have a training plan finalized yet, but if (Lucky Nine) continues to look good, we'll probably take him out on the track (Wednesday)." Lucky Nine is trained by Caspar Fownes and co-owned by Dr Chang Fuk To & Maria Chang Lee Ming Shum.
The Australia-bred Glorious Days, by Hussonet, out of the Centaine mare San Century, narrowly missed out on the BMW Champions Mile in Hong Kong on May 6 finishing in second place only half a length behind Xtension. The lightly raced Glorious Days began his racing career as a 4-year-old and has figured no worse than second in all his 8 starts. Those eight include 5 wins. Except for his debut, which was run in New Zealand, he has raced exclusively to the right, only at Sha Tin, and won over 1,200 and 1,400 meters. His last three starts have been at the upper levels, starting with a second-place run in the 1,400-meter Queen's Silver Jubilee in March behind winner Lucky Nine. The following month he took on his first mile race, the Chairman's Trophy, and also finished in second place. That was followed by the Champions Mile. Although Felix Coetzee had the ride in the Champions Mile, Hong Kong-leading jockey and Glorious Days' regular rider Douglas Whyte is expected to be back in the saddle for the Yasuda Kinen. The South Africa-born Whyte is way out in front in the rankings, with 95 wins in the current Hong Kong season.
Glorious Days trainer John Size, 57, was a top trainer in Sydney before his arrival in Hong Kong in 2001. He won the trainers' premiership in his very first season, then added five more titles in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. He has trained the winners of two Horse of the Year titles -- Electronic Unicorn and Grand Delight. He also won the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup in 2004 with longshot River Dancer, the same year he secured two Triple Crown legs via Super Kid. In 2009/10 he trained Brave Kid to equal the then record of six wins in a season and Entrapment, who finally broke that record with seven victories in just five months. In 2010/11 he finished third in the trainers' championship adding another 64 winners. Size currently leads Hong Kong trainers with 62 wins.
Compared to Glorious Days, the Ireland-bred Lucky Nine has had far more racing experience, starting his racing career in Ireland with three races before moving to Hong Kong. He now has a total of 25 outings, including 9 wins and 7 seconds. Lucky Nine, sired by Dubawi and out of the Green Desert mare Birjand, is coming off a third-place finish in the Champions Mile. That race was preceded by the G1 1,200-meter Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 31 at Meydan, in which he also finished third. Trained by Caspar Fownes, Lucky Nine was run in Japan in last fall's Centaur Stakes and Sprinters Stakes. He ran second and fifth in those races, respectively, then returned home to capture the Hong Kong Sprint in December. Three more races followed in Hong Kong and, after his win of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, he was shipped off to Dubai. He has had a race once a month since the Hong Kong Sprint and continues his tough schedule with the trip to Japan. Though most of his wins have come in races shorter than a mile, he has won at the distance once in his three tries, in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Classic Mile (HK1) in January 2011. In his other two 1,600-meter attempts, he finished in the money. Brett Prebble is the regular rider of Lucky Nine and is slated to ride in the Yasuda Kinen. The Australia-born Prebble won the Yasuda Kinen aboard Bullish Luck in 2006, the most recent of two Yasuda victories by Hong Kong horses. Prebble is currently in the No. 3 slot among Hong Kong jockeys. He has amassed 45 wins this season.
Caspar Fownes, 44, acquired his trainer's license in 2003 in Hong Kong and since then has figured in the top ranks of Hong Kong's trainers. Caspar worked alongside his father, Lawrie, also a prominent trainer, from the time the younger Fownes was 14 and the two later worked together in partnership. Son Caspar has eclipsed his father's best season stats and boasts, among his big wins, the 2006 Hong Kong Mile with The Duke, the 2010 Hong Kong Derby with Super Satin, the International Sprint (G1) in Singapore in 2010 with Green Birdie and the 2011 Hong Kong Sprint with Lucky Nine. Fownes won his second premiership in 2008/09 and he trained 56 winners in 2010/11. Fownes is currently No. 5 for wins among Hong Kong trainers with 36 wins total.
The Yasuda Kinen will be held over 1,600 meters of turf at Tokyo Racecourse with a total purse of 208 million yen, of which 100 million will be awarded to the winner. Post time is set for 3:40 p.m.