Oju Chosan Renews Own Record Registering Fifth Consecutive Nakayama Grand Jump Title
Overwhelming favorite Oju Chosan renewed his own record to register his fifth back-to-back Nakayama Grand Jump victory and 13th consecutive graded steeplechase title. After winning the Nakayama Grand Jump last year, the 2016-18 Best Steeplechase Horse was raced on three flat races, his best performance being a sixth in the Stayers Stakes (G2, 3,600m) last November. He returned to steeplechase race this year in the Hanshin Spring Jump (J-G2, 3,900m) in March, where he defeated 2019 Best Steeplechase Horse Shingun Michael by an overwhelming nine-length victory. This win gave trainer Shoichiro Wada his seventh J-G1 victory, including the 2016 and 2017 Nakayama Daishogai titles he won with this horse. Jockey Shinichi Ishigami marked his eighth J-G1 victory, which includes his win in the Nakayama Daishogai with Nihonpiro Baron in 2018. This is the first five back-to-back victories in the same graded race for the horse, trainer and jockey in JRA history.
Breaking sharply from stall six, nine-year-old Oju Chosan settled in second, letting sixth pick Meadowlark take the lead after the first jump (fence no.5). Third choice Meisho Dassai and second favorite Shingun Michael followed in third and fourth, respectively. The first four runners, handling the jumps and dips skillfully, kept their respective positions while closing and widening the gaps. Though slightly losing balance in the ninth jump (no.3), Oju Chosan closed in on the frontrunner in the backstretch and took the lead after the 10th jump (no.8). Taking a wide trip rounding the final turn, the odds-on-favorite managed to hold off the challenge by Meisho Dassai after clearing the last jump (no.10) and widened the gap in the last 100 meters for a comfortable three-length victory.
“I was able to race the horse well, traveling behind Meadowlark who set a good pace, though I was careful turning the corners as the ground was very slippery. We took the front earlier than planned as we were challenged by Bright Quartz, but the horse held on well until the wire. He’s really a great horse. I’m grateful that he always gives his best performance,” commented jockey Shinichi Ishigami.
“I couldn’t imagine how he will race as he had never raced on such a soft ground. I’m glad that he was able to race well, clearing all the jumps almost perfectly. He was able to show his outstanding power again today,” added trainer Shoichiro Wada.
Meisho Dassai, who stalked the race favorite in third throughout most of the race, continued to travel in third behind Bright Quartz after Oju Chosan took the front in the backstretch. The Pegasus Jump Stakes winner nailed Bright Quartz turning the last corner, closed in on the eventual winner after clearing the last jump (no.10) in second but was unable to accelerate in the last 100 meters and crossed the wire in second.Fourth choice Bright Quartz, traveling in fifth during most of the journey, made headway in the backstretch and challenged Oju Chosan in second after clearing the 10th jump (no.8) but was overtaken by the eventual runner-up turning the last corner. Though showing fatigue, the Nakayama Daishogai runner-up held on well in the lane to finish third.
THE 22ND NAKAYAMA GRAND JUMP (J-G1)
FP: Final Position / BK: Bracket Number / PP: Post Position / S&A: Sex & Age / Wgt: Weight (kg) / DH: Dead Heat / L3F: Time of Last 3 Furlongs (600m)
Color: b.=bay / bl.=black / br.=brown / ch.=chestnut / d.b.=dark bay / d.ch.=dark chestnut / g.=gray / w.=white
Turnover for the Race alone: ¥ 2,269,188,900 Turnover for the Day: ¥ 8,665,343,700PAY-OFF (for ¥100)
Winner= 32 starts, 18 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third (24 starts, 16 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third *steeplechases only)
* Nakayama Grand Jump (J-G1)
The Nakayama Grand Jump, the biggest steeplechase event in spring, span off from the biannual Nakayama Daishogai (J-G1, 4,100m) steeplechase races in 1999. The history of the Nakayama Daishogai dates back to 1934 when the two races, one each in spring and autumn, were created for the purpose of making them the most prestigious and attractive races in steeplechase racing, just like the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) in flat racing.
In 2000, a year after the Nakayama Grand Jump received its current name, the race became an international event. Seven foreign runners from five countries took part and Boca Boca (IRE, by Mandalus) from France finished second to Gokai (JPN, by Judge Angelucci) that year. During 2000 - 2010 when the Nakayama Grand Jump was an invitational event, St. Steven (NZ, by Hula Town) was the first foreign contingent to claim the title in 2002. He finished third the following year while Australian contender Karasi (IRE, by Kahyasi) became the first horse to win three consecutive titles between 2005 and 2007. In 2013, eighth favorite Irish raider Blackstairmountain (IRE, by Imperial Ballet) became the first European contender to claim the title.
The Nakayama Grand Jump features 12 jumps over the figure-of-eight-shaped course, which includes five up-and-downs over the banks and three hurdles set on the outside turf towards the final stretch. The 310-meter uphill stretch before the wire also is quite a test for many of the runners especially after running at a solid pace throughout the race.
2016-18 Best Steeplechase Horse Oju Chosan, who set a new record of registering his fourth back-to-back Nakayama Grand Jump victory last year, commenced this season with the Hanshin Spring Jump (J-G2, 3,900m; Mar.14), which he won with an overwhelming nine-length victory against 2019 Nakayama Daishogai winner and Best Steeplechase Horse Shingun Michael. Also coming off the Hanshin Spring Jump were Nakayama Daishogai fourth-place finisher Thinking Dancer and runner-up Bright Quartz who finished fourth and sixth, respectively.The Pegasus Jump Stakes (3,350m; Mar.20), another prep for the Nakayama Grand Jump, was won by Nakayama Daishogai third-place finisher Meisho Dassai, followed by Meadowlark in second and Le Pere Noel in third, while Cosmo Rob Roy finished seventh in his fourth steeplechase start after marking two wins and a second.