The biggest race on the Japanese racing calendar is the late November running of the Japan Cup. Another solid field of locals has assembled, with only two foreign runners turning up for the event. On paper, it’s not one of the strongest fields when compared to previous years, though the occasion will be spectacular as it is always is. There are some notable non-entries for this weekend including proven Group performers: Rey De Oro, Persian Knight, Sungrazer, Rainbow Line and Mikki Rocket.
2018 JRA Japan Cup
Tokyo Racecourse, Tokyo
Sunday 25th November 2018
Race 11: 3.40pm (Japanese Time)
2400 meters, WFA
1 ALMOND EYE, C. LEMAIRE, 53.0KG, 1.75
2 HAPPY GRIN, T. HATTORI, 55.0KG, 151.00
3 SATONO DIAMOND, J. MOREIRA, 57.0KG, 7.50
4 SATONO CROWN, W. BUICK, 57.0KG, 34.00
5 MIKKI SWALLOW, N. YOKOYAMA, 57.0KG,41.00
6 THUNDERING BLUE, F. BERRY, 57.0KG, 26.00
7 SOUNDS OF EARTH, H. TANABE, 57.0KG, 67.00
8 KISEKI, Y. KAWADA, 57.0KG, 11.00
9 CHEVAL GRAND, C. DEMURO, 57.0KG, 8.00
10 GANKO, M. EBINA, 57.0KG, 67.00
11 SUAVE RICHARD, M. DEMURO, 57.0KG, 7.50
12 CAPRI, R. MOORE, 57.0KG, 17.00
13 NOBLE MARS, R. TAKAKURA, 57.0KG, 151.00
14 WIN TENDERNESS, H. UCHIDA, 57.0KG, 51.00
The top three horses in Japan are currently at the top of the betting ranks. These are: Almond Eye, Grand Cheval and Satono Diamond.
There are two three-year-olds in the race, one of them is the filly ALMOND EYE, who has taken all before her locally. She’s had wins in the Japanese One Thousand Guineas, the Japanese Oaks and the Shuka Sho. This is the Japanese version of the Triple Crown. It’s obvious that comparisons will be made to top class English filly Enable, so the whole world will be watching to see how Almond Eye fares on Sunday. She is the hot favourite and has a devastating turn of foot.
SUAVE RICHARD is one of the most consistent gallopers in Japan over the last year. He was a certainty beaten in the recent Tenno Sho (Autumn) back on the 28th October (won by Rey De Oro), after being squeezed out of the gate, which put paid to his chances. He still has plenty of support, and there will be immense interest in this horse come Sunday. If he jumps alright from the barrier he’ll be right in it.
Last year’s winner CHEVAL GRAND will make his presence felt once more. He won’t have the services of Australian jockey Hugh Bowman this time. Bowman has been suspended after his ride in the Melbourne Cup on Marmelo, so the ride instead goes to local Japan based Italian rider Cristian Demuro. I feel Cheval Grand will have to go to another level if he wants to go for back to back wins.
Another horse with huge wraps is SATONO DIAMOND, to be ridden by Joao Moreira, the ‘Magic Man’. This horse was a disappointment on his recent travels to Europe when he didn’t run so well. He did however make up for it in a recent win in the Kyoto Daishoten back in early October. On his day he is well up to winning this. Currently ranked third favourite.
KISEKI is a well-credentialed local stayer, who has been scratching about the last year or so and has recently come into form with a couple of third placings in some top rated events. Probably not at the elite level of some of the other the horses like Almond Eye and Suave Richard, but might be one to factor in for your multiples.
The big grey Irish star CAPRI is an entrant here and is currently at $17 starting price on the tote. He’s been well travelled this year and like many of the Aidan O’Brien horses who came to Australia, instead Capri stayed in Europe and came a creditable fifth in the recent Prix de l’arc de Triomphe in France which was won by star English filly Enable. He has the services of top jockey Ryan Moore for this race and should be one for longer odds.
The other foreign entrant is another grey, the English horse THUNDERING BLUE. He ran third in a star-studded field in the Juddmonte International (video below) and also came second in the recent Woodbine International in Toronto which secured him an invite for this race. He does know how to race in these elite events, but could be struggling to foot it with the top rated Japanese further up the pecking order. Not the worst.
All the other runners are $30 or more in the betting and my feeling is they won’t actually feature in the finish of the race. I’d be very surprised if they do.
Betting Gods Picks
Almond Eye – 3pt win @ 2.00 Coral
Suave Richard – 1pt win @ 8.00 Coral
Satono Diamond – 1pt win @ 7.50 BetStars
Video Reference Guide
2018 Osaka Hai (Suave Richard)
2018 Japanese Oaks (Almond Eye)
2018 Juddmonte International (Thundering Blue)
Odds Correct at Time of Publication