Training Report of Foreign Entries
Japan Autumn International
The 38th Japan Cup (G1)
November 22, 2018 (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: Firm (turf course)
Capri (IRE, C4, Gray)
- jogged in exercise arena for 7 min. (ridden by Kevin Tobin)
- walked, cantered up to 2nd corner, walked, cantered from 1,400m marker, galloped in straight, ridden by Ryan Moore on turf course
(exercised from 7:37 to 8:04)
Jockey (J): Ryan Moore
Q: Sitting on Capri this morning for the workout, how did the horse feel?
J: We’re very happy with him. He’s traveled and settled in very well and Pat’s very happy with how he is. He moved well today. He seems to be in good shape.
Q: You’ve raced with Capri in four races and won three in the past. Your only defeat was in his last race in the Champion Stakes. What do you think was the reason for the defeat.
J: His last race was only 13 days after he ran the Arc where he ran a good race and was fifth. He ran the trial before the Arc. Maybe the Ascot just came a bit too soon.
Q: Looking at his past performances, Capri seems to be doing extremely well on softer surfaces. As you are familiar with the track here in Japan, how would you judge his suitability to the course here?
J: Most of his races have been in Ireland, maybe on softer ground. When he won the Irish Derby, it was actually quick. The Tokyo track is very fast but at least it’s flat and it’s stable. He’s coming here freshened up and he was moving well this morning, so I think he’ll be ok.
Q: Can you describe Capri’s outstanding points and what kind of race development and positioning would benefit your horse in the coming race?
J: He’s a very straightforward horse. He’s good-minded, very relaxed. He’s two-year-old form was very good. He had a good year as a two-year-old and he has won two classics. Fortunately, this year, he started well then he had a setback after his win. He ran a very credible race in the Arc and I feel that the race in Ascot was too short of a turn around. He didn’t run badly, this horse very rarely runs a bad race – so his form is very good, when you look back when he won the St. Leger, he beat Crystal Ocean and Stradivarius, Rekindling. When he won the Irish Derby he beat Cracksman, Wings of Eagles and Waldgiest who are all group-one winners. He needs to come back to that, to be involved against some high-class horses and show the exceptional form that he was last year – as I’ve said, he’s a straightforward horse and that is probably his quality benchmark facing some of the best horses here like Almond Eye (obviously the best one here), Satono Diamond, Cheval Grand and Suave Richard – it will be a very competitive race.
Thundering Blue (USA, G5, Gray)
- walked, jogged, cantered in exercise arena for 23 min.
- walked 1/4 lap to 1st corner, jogged 200m, cantered 1 lap on turf course
(exercised from 7:37 to 8:24, ridden by Kim Johnstone)
Trainer (T): David Menuisier
Q: How did you come to decide on running Thundering Blue in the Japan Cup?
T: When he won his Group 2 York Stakes in Europe, we started to think about the Japan Cup. Because Francis Berry, who rode him in this race, had rode in Japan a few years ago and we thought a mile and a half was his perfect trip. That’s when the idea started to emerge. After his Group 2 win, we kind of made a program with the Japan Cup being the last stake of the international campaign.
Q: How did Thundering Blue handle the trip to Japan and how has his condition progressed since his arrival including your work here at Tokyo Racecourse this morning?
T: He’s traveled before to Sweden and Canada, so he’s used to traveling and he took the traveling to Japan really well. Obviously, it’s a long journey, 28 hours, so for a day or two, he was a little bit jetlagged. You could tell that he was a little bit tired but he was eating well and feeling well and I’m very happy with him. He has a very good move and a very good balance and so after a day or two, he got his normal action back. I was very pleased with him this morning around Tokyo Racecourse. He’s a very intelligent horse, which is not always a good thing for a racehorse because he wants to know his surroundings before he can stride on and that’s why I was delighted for him to go around and let him have a look at things. So, tomorrow morning, I think, when we go back on turf, he will be a bit more confident and he will be able to stride on. This morning’s exercise wasn’t about speed but about having a good look at things, especially the winning post.
Q: What kind of training do you have in mind for tomorrow on and until the race day?
T: Tomorrow, I would like to do exactly the same thing, give him a warmup walk and trot in the infield and then take him on the turf and probably do a canter starting at the 16 pole for a mile and let him stride on in the straight for 400 meters. A little breeze as comfortable because I do believe that the horse is fit and he ran eight times this year, so at this time of the year, it’s a matter of keeping him well and fresh rather than work and fitness. Obviously with the traveling, I don’t think it’s essential to focus on speed before the race.
Q: Can you describe his outstanding points as well as his ideal race development or positioning that would benefit your horse in the Japan Cup?
T: His main strength is his turn of foot. He’s a horse that can travel and quicken dramatically in the final stages of the race. His Group 2 win, obviously, he won with his heart that day because the ground was soft and he got checked two furlongs out and still he managed to grab the bridle and rally strongly in the last 200 meters of the race, which to me was absolutely exceptional because it was a strong Group 2 with the horse that ran third was rated 115. To be able to do that on soft ground shows plenty of ability. His best race was in the Juddmonte International Stakes in Europe against very, very high-class competition and he just traveled for the fun of it. When he quickened, he took third place, but nearly second, because he was closing very strongly on Poet’s World who was actually one of the highest rated horses in the world – I think he’s the second or third highest rated horse in the world – and he was just closing ground on him for the fun of it. So his turn of foot is definitely exceptional. Even though he hasn’t won a Grade 1 yet, I think he showed in the past that he has the potential to do so. One little thing that plays against him in his races is he can be a bit slow away. He jumps out well from the starting stalls but then for the furlong he just wants to find his action. So, I believe he will probably be at the back of the field until he finds his stride and then he will find his time to come and really run.
Q: We’ve had very little rain this fall so the turf at Tokyo Racecourse is predicted to be firmer compared to other seasons and the pace will be much faster compared to last year. How do you think your horse will take the 2,400-meter race at Tokyo under these conditions?
T: That’s a good question. He ran on fast ground at York in the summer and I think the fastest ground he’s encountered this year was on July 14 when he ran in the John Smith's Cup Handicap. The ground was good to firm, on the verge of being on the firm side, and it didn’t bother him at all. I walked across the track yesterday and I think the ground is probably quite similar to what it was then at York. I think the distance will play in his favor because, as I said, when he was running at York over 10 1/2 furlongs, he looked like he was doing his best work in the final stages. As he is a horse with a big turn of foot, I would like to think that a strong pace will play in his favor.
Q: How do you view the Japanese horses and are there any horses in particular that you have in mind?
T: I think it’s an obvious one, the filly, Almond Eye. I’ve seen a few replays and she looks very impressive. I’ve looked at the form of others but it’s really hard for Europeans to gauge the form of Japanese horses. To me, the main thing is for this horse to be feeling great and healthy. And then he will run his race. If he gets beaten that’s fine and if he’s better than them, that’s better.
Q: Last month at Woodbine, which is regarded very similar to Tokyo with the same distance, left-handed and a very long homestretch, Thundering Blue came in an impressive runner-up despite a number of disadvantages during the trip. So everyone here is looking forward with a lot of anticipation because of his good track record over the left-handed course. Can you tell us your own expectations towards the coming race?
T: He’s been absolutely fantastic. He started off in handicaps and he was a low-rated handicapper. He’s so smart, when he was younger, he had the talent but he didn’t really see the point of using it. So it was a matter of trying to get him to enjoy what he was doing. That’s what I say all the time. He’s the boss. He tells us what to do with him. It’s not the other way around. The horse is absolutely great and he’s absolutely thriving at the moment. He can run straight, left-handed or right-handed. He’s very flexible. I just want him to run a good race and try to win as best as possible. The horse is great and hopefully he will run to his best and we will see what his best can be.