Training Report of Foreign Entries
Japan Autumn International
The 35th Japan Cup (G1)
November 26, 2015 (Thursday)
Today, the Joint Press Conference, attended by the connections of foreign horses, was held at Tokyo Racecourse after the morning workout. Questions and answers are as follows:
<At Tokyo Racecourse>
Going: Sloppy (dirt course), Yielding (turf course)
Erupt (IRE, C3, by bay)
- jogged 1/4 lap, cantered lightly 3/4 lap, walked 1/4 lap (dirt course)
- walked 1/4 lap, cantered 1 lap (turf course)
(exercised from 7:32 to 7:48, ridden by Aurelien Bellei)
Owner (O): Alan Cooper
Trainer (T): Francis-Henri Graffard
Q: What is your impression of horseracing in Japan and when did you start considering your participation in the Japan Cup?
O: Firstly, before answering the question, I would like to thank the Japan Racing Association, in particular, the International Department, for everything they’ve done to get Erupt and the team here to Tokyo. The Japan Cup has long been a race of high importance in our racing calendar. Back in the 1990s, the Niarchos Family raced Hernando twice and ten years ago, we raced Bago, and the gap of 10 years shows how difficult it is for us in the Niarchos stable to find a suitable candidate to come back to be with you here. It is a great prestige. Erupt is a horse that matured throughout the racing season, and the first thought of coming here was after the Grand Prix de Paris in July when we received an initial invitation from the Japan Racing Association. We thought at the time we must consider this very carefully depending on the horse’s autumn program, which as you know, were the Prix Niel and the Arc de Triomphe. After the Arc, we had thoughts of going to the Breeders’ Cup and then Francis felt that the horse needed more time in between the Arc and his next race. So, he prepared him to come here.
Q: How has his condition been since arriving in Japan, and how would you rate him now compared to the Arc de Triomphe?
T: Erupt traveled really well from France. He’s a very good, mild horse, he’s very relaxed, so he traveled well and we’re very happy with his condition until now. I think he’s in the same level of form as before the Arc. As Mr. Cooper said, we gave him more time after the Arc and the timing was good to come to Japan, so I’m very happy with his condition.
Q: How would you assess him in terms of his suitability to the ground at Tokyo Racecourse and the 2,400-meter distance?
T: Erupt’s first two runs were on the left-handed course, so we know he can handle the left-handed course very well. Obviously, the track here is a big track with a long straight so I think that will suit the horse very well. And also, the ground here in Japan will suit him better probably than it is in America so that’s why we considered coming here after the Arc.
Q: Please tell us Erupt’s strong point and the ideal position where he can make use of this point.
T: As I said, he’s a very easy horse, so there’s no special tactic with him. Obviously, a good draw will be better, as usual, in every race it’s the same. He’s a very easy horse and the jockey Stephane Pasquier knows him very well, and obviously we need a clear run—it’s very important again in every races—but I think this track makes a clear run, so if we get a clear run not too far from the pace…and hope for a good run.
Q: I heard that you made the final decision to come to Japan after a workout in the second week of November. How is his condition now, compared to his final workout in France?
T: Yes, we wanted to see how the horse was training up to before he traveled to Japan to make the final decision. We were pleased with his last piece of work back in Chantilly, so since then, we tried to keep his condition up to the race, and my staff here has done a good job to do that, as the horse has kept his weight and I think he is as good as he was before he left Chantilly. So I’m very pleased. I wish the race was tomorrow.
Q: You said that the ground here might suit the horse better than it would have at the Breeders’ Cup in Lexington. Could you elaborate on that?
T: In the Prix Niel, the ground was very very soft, and as you saw, physically, Erupt is a heavy horse, and he struggles a bit on very soft ground, and his wins in the spring and in the summer were on good to fast ground. We did not really know what was going to be the ground in Lexington, but it was also a question of timing, as the race was coming a bit quick for him after the Arc. So the timing for Japan was better, and here, usually it’s good to fast ground all the time. So, I hope the rain stops so that we can get that ground.
Nightflower (IRE, F3, Chestnut)
- cantered 1-1/4 laps (dirt course)
(exercised from 7:31 to 7:44, ridden by Ilke Hildebrand)
Owner’s connection (O): Michael Andree
Trainer (T): Peter Schiergen
Q: What is your impression of Japanese racing and when did you start considering your participation in the Japan Cup?
O: The invitation came straight after the win in the group 1 Grand Prix von Europe in Cologne, and the owner Mr. Imm decided immediately to take up the invitation as he was very honored to receive it. Unfortunately, he’s not able to come due to other commitments and I’m lucky that he has asked to bring me over together with Mr. Schiergen and the jockey. The racing in Japan has basically improved so much that it is on par with the world power.
Q: How has her condition been since arriving in Japan?
T: Nightflower traveled very well, I think she’s in good form as I’ve seen this morning. She did a nice canter and she looks good. My groom tells me everything’s fine and she’s in good condition here.
Q: How would you assess her in terms of her suitability to the ground here at Tokyo and the 2,400-meter distance?
T: I think Nightflower likes the racecourse here and a good pace is good for her speed. I think the distance is perfect because she likes the long distance.
Q: What stall would you like to draw and what is your ideal race development?
T: I think after the start I hope she doesn’t go too fast and to the outside, the best I think is five to ten. If there is a good pace I think it would be good for her.
Q: Compared to the two past challenges in the Japan Cup with Tiger Hill and Danedream, what is the strength of Nightflower and how confident are you this time?
T: I think all horses are different. Tiger was a good horse, Danedream was a perfect filly, and Nightflower is a different horse compared to the others, she’s stronger, she’s the same class and I hope she’s good enough for here.
Q: I understand that you rode Lando when you were a jockey. Since Lando has won the Japan Cup, you must be aware of what kind of horse it takes to claim a 2,400-meter turf race in Japan, how would you assess Nightflower compared to Lando?
T: I’ve ridden Lando in Germany and I’ve won races with Lando in Germany. He was a very good horse and was different to Nightflower. Lando was special. He needed a good pace and good ground, and Nightflower can handle everything, every kind of ground and the distance is perfect. Is she the same class to Lando…I don’t know.
Ito (GER, C4, Bay)
- jogged 1/4 lap, cantered 1 lap (dirt course)
(exercised from 7:31 to 7:44, ridden by Rene Piechulek)
Trainer (T): Jean-Pierre Carvalho
Q: What is you impression of horse racing in Japan and when did you decide on bringing him here this time?
T: The racecourse where the Japan Cup is held is probably one of the most beautiful racecourses I’ve known and it’s a great honor to be able to take part in the race. I was able to bring Ivanhowe last year and I was hoping to bring Ito this year if all went well during the winter months, and so it happened that I was able to bring him here for this race.
Q: How would you assess your horse in terms of his suitability to the track here and the 2,400-meter distance?
T: He’s had experience going left-handed twice during his career so that shouldn’t be a problem. He also likes a lot of speed in the race which I believe is the case here, as the race is usually run at a fast pace. So I think that he will be able to keep up with the pace and be competitive.
Q: How is his current condition?
T: Well, I’ve only seen him since yesterday and this morning and he looks to be in great condition which is thanks to the stable staffs who have conditioned him well.
Q: Where would you like to draw for his starting position and what race development would be ideal for your horse?
T: The barrier draw plays a big part in the outcome of the race, so that is certainly a concern—I would say between five and ten would be good. An outside draw from that would definitely be a disadvantage and require a lot of effort.
Q: Most of Ito’s recent runs have been in small fields. How do you think he’ll cope with a bigger field on Sunday and also a much faster early speed?
T: Whether the race is run among nine horses or 18 or 20, for Ito, I don’t think it would faze him—a race is a race.
Trip To Paris (IRE, G4, bay)
- jogged, walked, jogged 1-1/2 laps, cantered 3/4 lap (turf course)
(exercised from 7:39 to 8:08, ridden by Stephen Nicholson)
Assistant Trainer (AT): Robin Trevor-Jones
Q: How has his condition been since arriving in Japan?
AT: He’s settled in very well to be honest. We had a day in Shiroi where he didn’t eat very well, and after that he just started really doing well, drinking and eating properly, we couldn’t be happier with him.
Q: How would you assess your horse’s performances in the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup?
AT: The result in Caulfield, obviously, he ran a fantastic race—there was a true run, gallop throughout the race. The horse found plenty of room on the inside, quickened up nicely over a mile and a half which was very pleasing for us to see. The Melbourne Cup wasn’t so genuine a pace, it was very stop start, very slow, it did not suit a lot of horses, they all tried to race on the same ground. It got very rough, he got galloped into, he had a shoe pulled off—the Melbourne Cup, I think, we’ll just put a line straight through it and we’ll go from the Caulfield Cup run.
Q: How would you assess him in terms of his suitability to the ground here at Tokyo and the 2,400-meter distance?
AT: You’re exactly right asking that question, it’s his first time to run a mile and a half in the weight for age category. The Caulfield Cup is obviously a handicap. But the way he has been working, the way he ran in the Caulfield Cup, we think we are going to be competitive in the mile-and-a-half weight for age, hence we’ve come to Japan to have a go. The ground situation, this horse will go on any ground to be honest, the firm ground wouldn’t worry him and if it went a little bit softer, that wouldn’t worry him either. So we’ve not really got so much concern with the ground.
Q: What stall would you like to draw and what is your ideal race development?
AT: Let’s hope it’s a truly run race and normally the best horse wins. Personally, I’d like a draw between one and ten and I’d just like to have him sit seventh or eighth, the shortest around on the rail, and let’s see who the best horse is then.
Q: Trip To Paris worked on the grass this morning. How did he feel?
AT: The reason we gave him a bit of a blowout this morning was we’d been in Shiroi for a week now and we hadn’t done as much work as we really wanted to on the surface there. We’ve had two days on a beautiful turf track I might say, the ground was fantastic and it just showed us how fit this horse was. He went a mile today, he cantered for the first six furlongs and then just opened up a bit the last couple of furlongs. His blow—he hardly had a blow, he’s fit as a fiddle. We were very pleased with the way he’s acting around the course, not looking at too much not spooking around. Everything has gone quite smoothly and we were very pleased with his condition today.