Blackstairmountain arrives in Japan ahead of Pegasus Jump Stakes, Nakayama Grand Jump
The Irish gelding Blackstairmountain touched down at Narita International Airport east of Tokyo just before 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 13. He was then transferred to the Shiroi Quarantine Center at the JRA Horseracing School from the airport, arriving there at 1 p.m..
Blackstairmountain had been flown in from Ireland via Amsterdam, a trip of some 11 hours. Groom Diarmuid Keeling said everything was in order and the 8-year-old had traveled well. "It was a long journey but there's nothing special amiss. He looks fine and I'm relieved." Keeling said there were also no special plans for work. "I have been given any special instructions from the trainer, but we will be in touch every day and decide things as we go." Keeling did say, however that no hard work was in the books while at the quarantine facilities. "We'll wait until just before the Pegasus Jump Stakes for that."
Blackstairmountain, owned by Susannah Mary Ricci, is scheduled to first run in the 3,350-meter Pegasus Jump Stakes on March 23 at Nakayama, then continue on to the 4,250-meter Nakayama Grand Jump on April 13.
The Grand Jump, which takes horses over 12 obstacles, carries a total value of 135 million yen, with 65 million yen going to the winner. The Pegasus Jump Stakes also consists of 11 obstacles and is worth a total 31.3 million yen. Fifteen million yen goes to the winner.
Winless in all his six hurdle races last year, things are looking up for the Blackstairmountain, by Imperial Ballet out of the Sabrehill mare Sixhills. Given two races thus far this year, his first saw him, with Paul Townend up, victorious in a field of five in the McCarthy Insurance Group Hurdle. The McCarthy, a 2 mile 9-hurdle race at Cork Jan. 5, was run over soft to heavy going.
It was after this win that trainer William Mullins revealed his plans to ship to Japan. According to Irishracing.com, the 56-year-old Mullins said, “The ground conditions over there will suit him and he’s a Grade 1 horse. He’s the only one I have for the race, although it will be quite costly to send him out there.” The County Carlow-based Mullins is a highly talented former amateur jockey that clinched amateur champion six times. He took out his training license in 1988 but continued to ride in races as well. He has enjoyed a highly successful career as trainer, dominated the Irish National Hunt scene, and has claimed multiple successive champion trainer titles. His Hedgehunter won the Grand National in 2005 and he trained Hurricane Fly to win the Champion Hurdle in 2011 and 2013.
Blackstairmountain next went to the Ballsbridge Hurdle, a 2 mile 2 furlong race at Leopardstown in Ireland on March 3. He finished second among 14 runners some 12 lengths behind winner Fosters Cross. The ground was yielding and Ruby Walsh was in the irons.
Blackstairmountain has had a varied career, running over the flat and in chases, in addition to hurdles. His hurdle record is three wins and five seconds in 13 starts.
The gelding's rather unusual name is not so unusual for those familiar with Irish geography. The Blackstairs Mountains is a range of mountains in southern Leinster running north to south along the border of County Carlow and County Wexford. Blackstairs Mountain is the second-highest peak in the range at 735 meters.
It will be the first time since 2010 for a horse from overseas to enter the Pegasus Jump Stakes. In 2010, Pentiffic took part and finished fifth in a field of 13. He did not run the Grand Jump. The Pegasus Jump Stakes was cancelled in 2011 due to the effect of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
The Pegasus Stakes has a 2 p.m. post time as the eighth race on the Saturday, March 23 card at Nakayama. The Nakayama Grand Jump on Saturday, April 13 at the same venue will be the 11th race of the day with a 3:40 p.m. post time.
* Please visit the following websites for more information of horse racing in Ireland.
Horse Racing Ireland http://www.goracing.ie/