2015 Japan Cup (G1) - comments from three Japanese runners' connections
Naosuke Sugai, trainer
“We had to redo the gate test so we had a hard time deciding when to start him back into training and when to take the gate test but we talked it over with Yoshizawa Stable and, keeping a close watch on his condition, we brought him along accordingly.
“His retirement this year has been announced and I’d like to have him at his peak for the Arima Kinen (the Grand Prix), so I decided to par it down to just these two races. So, I’ve kept in close contact with Yoshizawa Stable and the jockey, Norihiro Yokoyama, to help determine the best way to give this our very best shot.
“Yoshizawa Stable schooled him in the gate nearly every week and we did the same at the training center as well so his test went smoothly. So, all that’s left is some fine-tuning heading into the race.
“I think Gold Ship is in fantastic shape right now.
“We’ve been working on getting his lungs strong all along, so today in work I asked the jockey to check what kind of shape he was in and he gave us a perfect time. But, he loses concentration when he works alone so I put a 2-year-old in front of him.
“People say he won’t run at Tokyo but they said that about Kyoto too and he won there. So, I’d like to show them they can’t say that. There are question marks about what he’ll do but I’d like him to have your support for these last two races.”
Norihiro Yokoyama, jockey
“He was really good in work. Normally he’s nervous and on edge but today he was relaxed and things went smoothly.
“My impression of him hasn’t changed. He’s always been a good horse and the fact that he’s hard to deal with and strong-willed is what makes him an interesting horse to ride.
“Today, he worked well with the other horse and things should be fine if he stays like this up to raceday.
“I don’t have any secret strategies for the race. I just want him to have a nice balanced run.
“He has a difficult temperament, but the trainer and the stable staff have done everything they can up to this point, so I’m just looking for him to put in a good race.”
Yasutoshi Ikee, trainer
“Last time out, in the Shuka Sho, she was sent forward from the gate and didn’t allow anyone to catch her. I think she really proved what a standout among 3-year-old fillies she is.
“It’s been our plan all along to go from the Shuka Sho to the Japan Cup. She’s a horse that needs to have ample time between races so having six weeks in between was good and the 53 kg she’ll be carrying was also attractive.
“Physically, she’s stronger than she was in the spring and she’s also more stable mentally. I think she’ll go to the gate in about the same shape she was for the Shuka Sho. The gate will be key here and I think she’ll be quite a keen competitor. She’ll be out there to win so please give her your support.”
Suguru Hamanaka, jockey
“The turn home in the Shuka Sho was the toughest spot and she really showed guts. The track was fast and the frontrunners were holding their ground so I took up a position fore of midfield. We had the far outside gate so the trainer wanted to have no hesitation right out of the gate but wanted me to send her aggressively forward and secure our position. So, it was different from our normal strategy.
“She’s by no means a good starter. She’ll miss the jump or just jump so-so and usually the position we take up depends totally on how she comes out of the gate.
“Since that race, she’s continued to mature in a good sense. She has the nerve to break through the ranks in a race and she’s come along as we’d expected her to.
“Physically, her condition has stabilized and her appetite has continued to gradually improve.”
“I rode her in fast work last week. It was the first time since the Shuka Sho and everything has gone well as usual, again, in a good way.
“The break will decide how we’ll race. I think it’ll be fine if she has a halfway decent break, and I’ll be concentrating on keeping her balanced. I think the long stretch at Tokyo will suit her and I’m looking forward to seeing just how well she can do.”
“She’s already shown how good she is up against fillies of her own age, but this is going to be a higher hurdle and a challenge for her. I think she can come very close to some of the best female champions there have been and I’d like to have your support.”
Yasutoshi Ikee, trainer
“He has improved from the Tenno Sho (Autumn). We kept him at the training center after that race and just gave him a week off before starting him back into work. With what I expect will be two more races this year, I’ve trained him wanting to leave a little room for improvement but he’s stayed in really good shape. I see that he’s matured both physically and mentally and he’s more powerful and has an even better turn of foot. His handler, assistant trainer Yamamoto, has given everything a lot of thought and I think he has succeeded in bringing out the best of this horse’s ability.
“I think 2,000 meters is his best distance and things should be fine if jockey Kawada can keep him nicely balanced. I’d say his top rivals are Gold Ship and my other horse Mikki Queen, but the horses from overseas are looking serious so I’m keeping my eye on them. This horse is tough and feeling fine so I believe he still has a lot to offer. I’m hoping he can get some good results here as well.”
Yuga Kawada, jockey
“The fast work went smoothly and I feel that he’s matured in ways that will enable him to give us a good race.
“The pace was slow in the Takarazuka Kinen so I rode him in a forward position and because he breaks well we were able to go with the flow. The last time I rode him, in the Kyoto Daishoten, he was able to run well balanced even though the Kyoto 2,400 is not his best race. The Tokyo 2,400, of course, is different from Kyoto but I’m hoping he’ll be able to handle it. He has good racing sense, he’s a serious, honest runner and he’s tough. Those are his strong points. I’ll do my best to get the very best results.”