2015 News

April 15, 2015


2015 Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1) - Preview
Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1) 

Nakayama Racecourse
Nakayama Racecourse

This Saturday (April 18th) sees Grade 1 action at Nakayama in the form of the Nakayama Grand Jump, the longest race staged in Japan at a distance of 4250 meters. The steeplechase's history goes back to when it was first run in 1934, when it was known as the Daishogai Tokubetsu and was run under the rules of the Nakayama Racing Club. Its current name and format, together with its Grade 1 status, began in 1999, and this year it is being held for the 17th time.

The first foreign horse to win the race was St. Steven in 2002, and just a few years later, in 2005, the legendary Karasi won the race for the first time, before going on to make it a hat-trick of wins [2006, 2007] in the race, the last of which was achieved at the age of twelve. There have only been two first favourite winners of the race since then, Majesty Bio in 2012 and Apollo Maverick last year. In 2013, the race went to 25/1 shot Blackstairmountain, and gave Irish trainer William Mullins, and jockey Ruby Walsh, another big race win to put on their already glittering CVs.

The Nakayama Grand Jump consists of twelve fences in all, as well as banks with descents and rises, and finishes on the regular turf course with its uphill stretch to the winning post. It's open to 4-year-olds and up, and the runners are set to carry 63kgs, with a 2kg allowance for fillies and mares. There is just one mare among this year's fifteen nominations, the 5-year-old Tyrian Purple. In the last ten years, horses aged six or younger have a near 30% strike rate of finishing in the top three, and the first three horses in the betting have a near 60% rate of finishing in the first three.

The race has a total purse of ¥135 million, with ¥65 million going to the winner. It's race 11 on the card, and the post time is 3:40 pm Japan time.

Here's a look at some of the contenders for Saturday's race:

Nakayama Daishogai (J-G1)
Red Kingdom
Red Kingdom: Winner of the Pegasus Jump Stakes in March over 3350 meters on a firm track, this 6-year-old by Deep Impact will be one of the fancied runners. He also won last year's Nakayama Daishogai in December over 4100 meters, and has five wins from nine starts in his steeplechase career to date. Trained at Ritto by former jockey Mikio Matsunaga, the trainer is enjoying a good year so far and is eleventh in the trainers' table with eleven wins. Top steeplechase jockey, Makoto Nishitani, is expected to ride the Tokyo Horse Racing Co. Ltd. owned Red Kingdom, and his 3 1/2 length win in the Pegasus Jump Stakes should set him up for a big run here.

Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1)
Apollo Maverick
Apollo Maverick: An easy winner of the race last year when favourite, this 6-year-old by Apollo Kingdom hasn't won since. He finished second in last year's Grade 1 Nakayama Daishogai, and on his only start this year, he finished fifth behind Red Kingdom in the Pegasus Jump Stakes. The big question is whether he can regain the form he was in when he won so well last year, with jockey Yusuke Igarashi again lined up for the ride.

Shiny Black
Sombrero: A 5-year-old by Tanino Gimlet from Ritto based trainer Kunihide Matsuda's yard, he finished third in the Grade 2 Hanshin Spring Jump in March over 3900 meters, and has never been out of the first five in a steeplechase career comprising of ten races. He has done well in open class races, will be ridden by Jun Takada, and could have a part to play here stepping up to Grade 1 level.

Hanshin Spring Jump (J-G2)
Sanrei Duke
Sanrei Duke: Winner of the Grade 2 Hanshin Spring Jump on his most recent run, he acts on any going. He was third in last year's Nakayama Daishogai and fifth in last year's Nakayama Grand Jump. Coming off his recent win where several of his rivals here were behind him, Sanrei Duke would have a chance here.

Shiny Black
Fire: An interesting runner from the Masaru Honda stable, Fire ran in the 2013 Japan Cup and has had a varied career to date mixing flat races with those over jumps. His latest run was the Shunei Jump Stakes over 3100 meters in February, where he finished seventh. He has one third, four seconds, and one win, while finishing unplaced three times from his nine race steeplechase career.

Shiny Black
Up To Date
Up To Date: This striking grey by Kurofune is a relative newcomer to the jumps scene, having just the five starts over fences. He's been sent off favourite in his last four races, has won two of them, and finished fourth in the Grade 2 Hanshin Spring Jump in March.
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