This past weekend, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, called a general election, obviously seeking a reaffirmation of the mandate he obtained two years ago for his radical new economic plan, popularly referred to as “Abenomics”. There can only be one strategic purpose behind a snap election in these circumstances, and that is to get the support of the populace before the substantial majority you enjoyed last time, whittles away altogether. Such of the aspects of his plan as he was able to implement in the face of stern traditional opposition, gave the Japanese economy a brief shot in the arm, but that has frizzled away, and once again the Japs are in a stalemate. While an economic malaise is not uncommon in the world today, their economy has been stagnant for more than two decades now, and you wonder what it will take to shake up what was not so long ago one of the world’s major engine rooms. Let’s not forget where Japan and Germany came from in the wake of the Second World War; it’s a fact that through sheer industry, ingenuity and abundant energy, they damn nearly took over the economic world without so much as firing a shot.
Our economy too, is in a state of cardiac arrest, prompted it seems by political jostling and the constraints of an unwieldy alliance, earnings inequality, high unemployment, and debt-laden consumers, prolonged strike action and tight labour legislation. International investors have a choice as to where they put their money, and right now, we’re not at the top of too many bucket lists. That said, we’ve set ourselves some lofty standards over the years, and through a free and critical media, we’re quite tough in our own judgment and tend to write our own bad press. Somehow, both our political and business leaders have to find one another to turn this around, and convince the world that the “rainbow nation”, for both its achievements and its warts, is intent on taking this story to another level.
You’d have to ask yourself what on earth a Zulu farmer is doing dabbling in issues of international economics, and in particular the state of play in Japan, at Christmas time. The answer is simple: it’s a matter of envy, and it’s reflected in the rude health of the Japanese racing and breeding industries, despite more than two decades of national deflation. For the umpteenth time, the Yoshida family, who are our co-investors in Admire Main (by Sunday Silence), occupy the first three spots on their domestic breeder’s log, with Katsumi Yoshida’s Northern Farm once again at the top of the pile. The astonishing thing is that their figures for the year exceed a billion Rands in earnings (see the table converted to our local currency), which explains why they are able to compete with the game’s highest rollers for the world’s best stallion and broodmare prospects, wherever they may be found.
2014 JRA Purse Rating / Breeder
|Total Purse ZAR||Breeder|
2014 JRA Leading Sire
|Total Purse ZAR||Stallion|
|241,138,971||Symboli Kris S|
|182,088,914||Zenno Rob Roy|
2014 JRA Leading Sire of 2 Year Olds
|Total Purse ZAR||Stallion|
|24,479,314||Zenno Rob Roy|
|21,444,114||Sakura Bakushin O|
Equally astonishing, though it’s becoming old hat, is that every one of the top ten sires in their premiership stands at Shadai Stallion Station, where Admire Main kicked off his career, with the new king Deep Impact (also Sunday Silence), once again at the head of affairs. He heads up the Juvenile sires’ log as well, where nine of the top ten are encumbents of the same barn. What stands out on the Two Year Old list is the unlikely presence in the top five of Manhattan Café (another by Sunday Silence), a former winner of the Japanese St Leger (2760m) and of their top Group One event at 3000m too, as well as the debut crop of the world’s highest-rated racehorse of 2012, Harbinger (Dansili), who’s gotten off to an exceptional start with sixth place on the same table, despite being a winner of the “King George” and the Hardwicke, both over the Ascot 2400m trip. These are hardly the credentials of precocious juvenile sires, yet here they are.
We’ve often marvelled at the dominance of farms like Claiborne at the height of the American hegemony in the thoroughbred business of the 50s through the early 90s, and that of Coolmore in modern day Europe, yet by any standards and in the face of growing competition (including Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley Japan,) the Yoshida’s pre-eminence is arguably more pronounced right now than it was in the heyday of their legendary founding father, Zenya Yoshida.