In a remarkable coincidence, at one of our morning management meetings (these take place every day at 6:45 am, and are attended by 16 of the farm’s management team, some of whom drive all the way from places as far afield as Pietermaritzburg, Howick, Estcourt etc, we were involved in a discussion about Japan’s Shadai Farm. It arose because of a correspondence between ourselves and Katsumi Yoshida, (son of the late, great Zenya). Katsumi Yoshida is the owner of Northern Farm, current Champion breeders in Japan, where Mick’s son, Chris has spent the past 2 ½ years. Katsumi is a friend of Summerhill’s, and he was so impressed with Mike de Kock’s famous victory with Eagle Mountain in the Hong Kong Cup (Gr.1) a fortnight ago, that he’s asked us to facilitate a visit to Mike’s South African stable, taking in Summerhill en-route.

As so often happens in these instances, we began to reflect on the achievements of the most famous of all Japanese breeders, Katsumi’s late father, Zenya Yoshida, founder of Shadai Farm. The conversation turned to the first really important stallion to stand in Japan, a son of Northern Dancer by the name of Northern Taste, and we proffered the suggestion that he couldn’t have been a terribly expensive horse, notwithstanding his bloodlines, because of the somewhat ghostly appearance of the horse’s face, whose white-splashed blaze eclipsed his left eye. Truth is, horses don’t run with their eyes, nor with their blazes, and Northern Taste was a stalwart in Europe, where his most famous victory included the Prix de la Foret (Gr.1) contested over the 1400 m of Longchamp’s fabled racecourse.

Northern Taste went on to secure ten National Sires titles in Japan in eleven years, and has been the perennial champion broodmare sire ever since. Just last weekend, the Arima Kinen (Gr.1), as important as any race in Japan outside the Japan Cup (Gr.1), was taken by Daiwa Scarlet, a granddaughter of the most famous of all Shadai stallions, Sunday Silence, from a Northern Taste mare, and this story was reported in the American Thoroughbred Daily News within hours of our conversation at the morning meeting. Coincidentally, the story of Northern Taste’s acquisition is revealed in full, and Andrew Caulfield, as good as they get in the pedigree field, felt compelled to share his thoughts on Daiwa Scarlet’s pedigree.

“Northern Taste, a son of Northern Dancer bred by Windfields Farm, raced in the colors of the late Zenya Yoshida after being bought as a yearling for $100,000 in 1972. This was a comparatively modest sum for a youngster whose sire was responsible for such as Nijinsky, Fanfreluche, One For All, True North, Northfields, Lauries Dancer and Alma North in his first few crops. I suspect that Northern Taste’s price might have been inhibited by his markings. His broad white face extended just beyond his left eye, and his flashiness also included two lengthy socks. Perhaps would be buyers also had qualms about his being inbred 3x2 to Lady Angela, even though this famous mare numbered Nearctic among her many winners.

Needless to say, Northern Taste proved an excellent buy, becoming a Group 3 winner at two before developing into a high-class performer at up to a mile at three, when he took the G1 Prix de la Foret. He also finished fifth in the Derby on one of the rare occasions he ventured beyond a mile, so it was no great surprise that he went on to sire winners of the Japanese Derby and Oaks and even of the two-mile Tenno Sho (Spring).

He was Japan’s champion sire 10 times in an 11-year period, and his success laid the foundations of the Shadai Farm empire which flourishes to this day.”