northern taste japan
northern taste japan

Northern Taste

(Shadai Thoroughbred Club/Skynet/Franco)

JAPAN THOROUGHBRED STATISTICS 2009

If you’d visited Japan forty-odd years back, even as an avid horseman you probably wouldn’t have bothered much with visiting their stud farms, nor for that matter making a point of going to the races. All of that has undergone a dramatic renaissance in the intervening time, to the degree that today Japan boasts the highest prize money in the world, and it’s the centre of a burgeoning breeding industry. There were many who might’ve doubted Japan’s ability to aspire to any heights in the world of thoroughbred production, given the limitations on land space and the cost of it, yet at the heart of that country’s relatively new-found prosperity was a marvellous visionary in the form of the late Zenya Yoshida, who realised that to become world class, you needed to deal at the very top of the bloodstock world.

A consummate horseman in his own right, the patriarch of what is now known as one of the most successful breeding jurisdictions on the planet, set about acquiring yearlings at the major international sales, and within a relatively short time, he struck gold, as he was to do several times thereafter. While we all need to be fortunate in our lives, it’s amazing how lucky Zenya Yoshida became, the harder he practised, and one of his early windfalls came in the shape of a typically nuggety son of the emperor of all stallions, Northern Dancer, by the name of Northern Taste.

Not only did this fellow aspire to Group One glory in the Prix de la Foret at Paris’ fabled Longchamps racecourse, but he subsequently secured in excess of ten national sires titles in his homeland Japan.

From the time Northern Taste began to leave his mark on Japanese breeding, the Yoshida family prepared themselves for the day they would have to find the antidote for his blood, and this came at a point of transition in the family’s affairs, as Zenya’s sons, Teruya and Katsumi rose to prominence.

You might find it difficult to believe it, but Americans held little faith in the stallion potential of their Horse Of The Year, Sunday Silence, as a result of which Zenya Yoshida and his sons proceeded to acquire all the ownership rights to a horse they’d earlier invested a fractional interest in, and took him back to Japan, where his influence on the affairs of the turf was even greater, from the time his first progeny hit the tracks.

Since then, the influence of Sunday Silence has been profound, not only in domestic Japan, but across the length and breadth of the world, where he has something approaching ten sons now who have left Group One winners in various parts of the globe.

Our connection with the Yoshida family came this year with the arrival of Admire Main, one of the top three runners of his Classic generation. Admire Main’s attraction to South African breeders is to be seen in the names of those farms which have patronised him in his first year at Summerhill.

To get your head around the influence the Yoshidas have had on the Japanese racing industry and the extent of their prize money, you’d need to glance quickly at their latest statistics. Before you do so though, bear in mind that for many years, Shadai stood alone as the outstanding farm, but with the advent of Zenya’s two eldest sons, a second entity in the form of Northern Farm was created (under the stewardship of Katsumi Yoshida and his son Shunsuke), and it’s through Northern Farm that we’ve developed our association.

Northern Farm have, very much like Summerhill, been Champion Breeders in their own homeland for the past six seasons, and in every instance, the runners-up have been Teruya Yoshida’s Shadai Farm. This year, their roles have been reversed, and while the “fat lady” still has to sing at the end of December, Shadai have a narrow lead of the order of ¥300 million. To put that into context, Shadai runners have earned in the region of R720 million, while Northern Farm thus far, are on the verge of R700 million.

japan racing association breeder purse rating 2009
japan racing association breeder purse rating 2009

Now have a look at the leading sires list, where nine of the top ten sires are resident at Shadai Stallion Station, and five of the top seven are sons of Sunday Silence.

japan racing association leading sire 2009
japan racing association leading sire 2009

Do the same with the two-year-old sires list, and you’ll find that nine of the top ten stand at the same place, and once again, with the exception of the leading two-year-old sire King Kamehameha (by Kingmambo) are all descended from Sunday Silence.

japan racing association leading two year old sire 2009
japan racing association leading two year old sire 2009

We always thought Coolmore were a dominant force in Europe (and my goodness they are), but we doubt any domestic industry has ever known the overwhelming power of a single family, as Japan has.

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