2018 News

November 22, 2018


Japan Cup (G1) - Comments from two Japanese runners' connections
Shuka Sho (G1)
Almond Eye

Almond Eye (filly, 3)

Christophe Lemaire, jockey
“She worked Wednesday morning with another horse and it was a very good workout. She was relaxed from the start and her footwork was good. She picked up the pace coming out of the backstretch and going into the straight and ran very nicely once into the homestretch. Her condition looks to be good. Last week her workout was a light one but this being the week of the Japan Cup, we went faster. I think her condition has improved.

“The Shuka Sho was really a terrific race. She picked up the pace gradually from a rearward position. Unfortunately, she was forced to take a wide course going into the final bend, but because she has such great talent, she was able to win. She was in tiptop shape. If she was 95 percent last time, I’d say she is about 100 percent now.

“I think this time she’s likely to be able to be more relaxed before the race. She’s always an easy horse to ride once under way. In the Shuka Sho preliminaries, she was excited, but this time I’ll think she’ll be better. Mentally and physically she is ready and I think she’ll be able to get good results.

“The distance is difficult for everyone, but she won the Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks) at Tokyo and I think the course won’t pose any problems for her.

“The Japan Cup is a famous race around the world and it carries the top purse of all Japanese races. All horses that have won the race have gone on to become super horses. It really is a difficult race. It’s famous and so, of course, I want to win it.

“The filly triple crown was this year’s main objective and it was very good that she was able to capture it. This will be the final challenge of the year for her. She’ll be up against older horses and that will make it quite a difficult race. But, she has ability and I plan to ride her with confidence.

“She really is a perfect horse. She is very clever. She’s smart and knows very well what she has to do. Her best point is her acceleration. In the stretch, her stride is huge and she puts her everything into it. Her heart is strong. Really, she has no bad points. It’s a fantastic feeling when she shifts into high gear. It’s like riding in a Ferrari. Her shifting gears feel wonderful. She’s a special horse.”

Sakae Kunieda, trainer
“She moved well last week, so this week I thought it’d be good to give her the same kind of workout. And I think she moved well this week as well.

“Many factors came into play in the Shuka Sho. She went to the track and she got right down to it and did what she needed to do. I think she’s a fantastic horse.

“I think she suffered a bit of heatstroke though and she wasn’t able to move after the race. But it was a temporary thing and, with treatment from the vets, she recovered and after that there have been no problems whatsoever. After that we kept a careful watch on her and, since there appeared to be no problems, we decided to take on the Japan Cup. After making that decision, we gave a bit of time off at the farm and things all went well there. She returned to the training center as scheduled and her workouts have all gone smoothly.

“There had been quite a bit of time between the Shuka Sho and the race prior to that and so her weight was up and she was a bit fat. This time the numbers will probably be the same as last but, as expected, I think that last race has sharpened her up.

“The Tokyo 2,400 is an honest course and she has gotten good results in the Japanese Oaks. I think if she can run a race like that one, it’ll be good. There is some concern with her meeting older horses for the first time, but I’m looking forward to the race even more. She is a horse full of potential and I think she’ll give us a good performance. I’d like everyone to keep their expectations high.”

Osaka Hai (G1)
Suave Richard

Suave Richard (colt, 4)

Mirco Demuro, jockey
“The Tenno Sho (Autumn) was a really bad race. First of all, he got hit coming out of the gate. He fell in going around the final bend, and he didn’t quicken at all in the final stretch. Now, though, he’s in great shape, with nothing out of the ordinary. I rode work on Wednesday and he moved very well. There was no sign of any damage from his previous start.

“The Tokyo 2,400 is the same course as the Copa Republica Argentina, just 100 meters shorter but with little change otherwise. He’s good racing to the left and he’s in perfect shape. I would like him to be a little bit more on his game.

“It’s always difficult to predict how the Japan Cup will unfold. The draw is very important and I’d like him to have a gate position right in the middle. I hope he won’t get agitated in the gate and that we can time it well and get a good position. I’d like to send him forward.

“I haven’t spoken with the trainer about the start. He always leaves it up to me. The staff, trainer and I all know this horse quite well. I will try to do my best.

“As I said earlier, he suffered no damage in the last race. He always is in very good form in morning work. For that reason, I was quite surprised to get the poor results we did in his last race. Perhaps he was still feeling some fatigue from his run in the Yasuda Kinen in the spring. Perhaps his condition had worsened and that’s why he barely raced. That may be the problem.

“It’s a Grade 1 so there are a lot of horses to be worried about in the lineup. Almond Eye is really strong. She’s a monster. Of course, there are others I’m worried about. Everyone wants to win a Grade 1 race and there are quite a few Grade 1 winners in the field, like Satono Diamond and Cheval Grand.

“Of course I want to win. Last race he didn’t run at all. He was really strong in the Osaka Hai and if he’s like he was in the Osaka Hai, he has a chance here. As I said last week, I’ve had a lot of seconds this year and I’d finally like to be able to win. I’ll give it my best this week again.”


Sources: Netkeiba

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