(Photo : Summerhill Stud)
“IGNORE THE JAPANESE AT YOUR PERIL”
If ever a country needed a morale booster, it was the Land of the Rising Sun, and nothing could’ve been more timely than the closing burst of Victoire Pisa in the dying strides of the world’s richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup, on Saturday evening. Sensing a crawler of a pace, jockey Mirco Demuro sent his horse to the head of affairs, where he joined his fellow countryman, Transcend, and it was going to take a very good horse to beat these two once they turned for home, as they were bound to have plenty in reserve when it mattered most. In the wake of the tsunami which hit Fukushima earlier in the month, here was a country desperate for good news, and the son of Neo Universe could not have served up a better tonic for his ailing people.
The spectacular victory of the Crusaders over the Sharks at Twickenham on Sunday evening, was another telling example of the impact natural disasters have on the spirit of a nation. Featured as a home game for the men from Canterbury, the New Zealanders delivered their greatest ever performance to take the laurels 44-28, and they did it against a Sharks side that was just as valiant in defeat.
There were some good horses behind Victoire Pisa on Saturday, not the least of whom was the highest rated middle distance horse in Europe, Twice Over, who’d put up such a blinder in the third round of the Al Maktoum Challenge, a few weeks before, and looked a cinch for the laurels with the scratching of South Africa’s Bold Silvano. Twice Over was not alone among the vanquished however; they included American Grass Champion, Gio Ponti, Irish Derby winner, Cape Blanco and Japanese Champion, Buena Vista.
“The image of Japan has recently been darkened, and the people have been put down, but, thanks to the invitation of Sheikh Mohammed, we were able to come here for the Dubai World Cup and give some smiles to the Japanese people,” trainer Katsuhiko Sumii said through an interpreter of his troubled homeland.
We’ve said it often enough, but you ignore the Japanese at your peril. They’ve cornered the market in quality stamina horses, entering the gap the Europeans and the British were once famous for, when they eschewed those that had traditionally forged their breed. These were the horses that could stay the true test of a properly run mile and a half, in the wake of was popularly known as the “American invasion”, headed by the likes of Sir Ivor and Nijinsky in the 1970’s. Since then, Japanese horses have run proud the world over, and this was by no means the first time they’ve shone at the Dubai World Cup meeting.
Pedigree pundits will ask themselves who the hero’s sire, Neo Universe is, and the answer is axiomatic. He’s yet another Japanese Guineas and Derby winning son of the legendary Sunday Silence, which provides South Africans with of an idea of the source of our enthusiasm for our own Admire Main.
Victoire Pisa’s breeder, Shadai Farm, is the founding property of the celebrated Yoshida family’s remarkable turf holdings on Hokaido in Northern Japan, and while our affiliations with the family come via Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm, Admire Main himself is a graduate of the Shadai Stallion Station.