Team Japan falls short in Dubai, Hokko Tarumae 5th in World Cup
One and Only
Team Japan came home from Dubai World Cup day empty-handed as Hokko Tarumae finished a JRA-best fifth in the world's richest race on Saturday at Meydan Racecourse.
Japan Cup holder Epiphaneia, the world’s second highest rated racehorse trained by former Dubai World Cup winner Katsuhiko Sumii, finished dead last in a field of nine in the US$10 million race.
Also at the meet, Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) winner One and Only was third in the US$6 million Dubai Sheema Classic in which Harp Star was eighth out of nine. In the US$2 million UAE Derby for 3-year-olds, Golden Barows showed while Tap That and Dear Domus crossed the post fifth and eighth, respectively.
“For a while there I thought he might hang on, but it was close,” Hokko Tarumae’s trainer Katsuichi Nishiura said. “He was a little intimidated right after the start, which may have caught up to him in the end. But unlike last year, we actually held our own this time so that was good.”
“I think the jockey also showed that Japanese jockeys can ride on a stage like this,” he said, referring to Hideaki Miyuki, who has ridden the horse in all but five of his 30 career starts.
The 6-year-old Hokko Tarumae, who was named the JRA’s top dirt runner last season, broke well and set the pace for the 2,000-meter Dubai World Cup, which returned to a pure dirt surface this year from the all-weather Tapeta.
Hokko Tarumae, by the JRA’s leading sire King Kamehameha out of Madam Cherokee, was on the lead turning for home but eventually gave way to the likes of winner Prince Bishop and California Chrome and went under nearly 10 lengths out. Miyuki was left feeling his partner could have done more.
“I wasn't sure whether to take the lead or sit back but we ended up being on the lead,” Miyuki said. “He traveled well but he was spooked by the car inside the rail and the noise from the speakers at the track. I think we could have kept it a lot closer if he was more comfortable with his surroundings. It's a shame, because going into the final turn I thought we just might do it.”
While never having raced on dirt before, hopes were high for Epiphaneia after the way Sumii’s horse dominated the Japan Cup back in November. But not even the 5-year-old blueblood ridden by Christophe Soumillon, by Symboli Kris S out of Cesario, could overcome the inexperience on an unaccustomed surface as he began to fade midway through the race.
“The dirt didn’t do it for him,” said Sumii, who won the 2011 Dubai World Cup with Victoire Pisa in a one-two with Transcend. “I asked the jockey to position him toward the front. He clearly didn’t run to the best of his ability because after the race, he looked like he barely ran. He’ll be racing on turf from now on.”
Added Soumillon, who rode Epiphaneia in the Japan Cup, “The dirt didn’t suit him. He spent most of his time dealing with the kickback from the other horses.”
The Japanese delegation was hoping either One and Only or Harp Star would follow in the footsteps of Gentildonna, who comfortably won the Dubai Sheema Classic a year ago en route to the JRA’s horse of the year honors. But One and Only, under Cristian Demuro, settled for bronze more than four lengths behind the winner – Dolniya – while Harp Star continues to find her way back to form from the first half of last season.
One and Only, by former Dubai Sheema Classic champion Heart’s Cry, held his own in a field of nine in his first race outside Japan, not giving in to the Hong Kong-based Designs on Rome on the final straight for third place. The Kojiro Hashiguchi-trained colt is expected to next enter the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.
“It was a good effort from him,” said Shinsuke Hashiguchi, technical assistant to the trainer. “He took the bit too much but it was his best performance since winning the Derby. He was almost passed at the end but showed a lot of toughness and held on. He ran well against the best horses in the world. We’ll go home and farm him out, but he’ll likely be heading to the King George now.”
Four-year-old Harp Star, who in 2014 became the first 3-year-old filly from the JRA to take a shot at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, was never a factor despite getting off to a good start and traveling well under new partner Ryan Moore. Trainer Hiroyoshi Matsuda suggested he may have to head back to the drawing board with the Deep Impact daughter, who showed so much promise in last year’s Classic races.
“I told the jockey to just let her decide how to run the race,” Matsuda said. “The jockey may have made his move a little early. But she traveled well. She had a good buildup to the race, but it’s getting hard to tell about her. Maybe it’s a filly thing. We’ll take it day by day.”
In the UAE Derby, Moore also rode Golden Barows who the Englishman believes is better suited to the mile.
“1,900 meters is a bit long for him; 1,600 meters is just right,” Moore said of the Noriyuki Hori-trained colt. “The pace was slow and he was boxed in during the trip. He couldn’t stay loose during the entire race.”
Tap That’s trainer Yasutoshi Ikee was upbeat about his horse’s future while jockey Kosei Miura lamented how Dear Domus was intimidated early on in the race.
“I spoke to a lot of jockeys and was told there would be a lot of kickback, so I asked the jockey to push him near the front,” Ikee said. “The jockey said give him six months or so and he will fill out. I hope we can come back to Dubai with him one day.”
Said Miura, “He got off to a really good start. The other Japanese horses set the pace and we sat back, which is how we were expecting the race to unfold. The pace wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle but he got hit around the first two turns, which threw us. But he ran well at his own rhythm.”
Official Results: Dubai World Cup, Dubai Sheema Classic, UAE Derby
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Dubai World Cup: http://www.dubairacingclub.com/race/dubai-world-cup
Emirates Racing Authority: http://www.emiratesracing.com/