There’s nothing new about top-class European and American racehorses being exported to Japan. Through both stallions and broodmares, ‘outside’ influences are evident in many of Japan’s top families and judging by recent events that will continue to be the case.
Workforce is the first Derby winner to head to stud in Japan since Oath, whose export after his 1999 victory followed a rash of similar departures, including High-Rise (1998), Lammtarra (1995), Erhaab (1994), Commander In Chief (1993), Dr Devious (1992) and Generous (1991). He joins on the list of stallions in Japan his erstwhile stablemate Harbinger and the former European-trained Bago, Conduit, Fantastic Light, Falbrav, Johannesburg, Rule Of Law, Storming Home, Stravinsky, White Muzzle and Xaar.
It is hard to imagine that the importing of any horse could have a bigger impact on a nation’s bloodlines than the arrival of the American-bred Sunday Silence in Japan. The great horse died in 2002 but is represented in the stallion ranks of his adopted home by 34 sons and an increasing number of grandsons.
One of those sons, and arguably the best on the racecourse, Deep Impact, is a son of Oaks runner-up Wind In Her Hair, a granddaughter of the Queen’s Highclere, who, through Height Of Fashion, has been responsible for quite a dynasty in Europe too.
His eldest runners have only just turned four but Deep Impact already has 12 stakes winners to his name, including the Grade 1 winners Real Impact, Joie De Vivre (a three-parts sister to Japan Cup winner Buena Vista) and Marcellina, winner of the Oka Sho, Japan’s equivalent of the 1,000 Guineas.
Marcellina is out of the Irish-bred, Italian-trained Marbye, who won the Prix d’Astarte in Teruya Yoshida’s colours before being shipped to Japan to take up broodmare duties. She has also produced the Grade 3 Nisai Stakes winner Grandezza to another son of Sunday Silence, Agnes Tachyon.
Among Deep Impact’s other stakes winners are Best Deal, a son of the French-bred Grade 1 EP Taylor Stakes winner Commercante; Gentildonna, out of the Cheveley Park Stakes winner Donna Blini; and Adam’s Peak, from the British-bred mare Singhalese, winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. Deep Impact’s Grade 3-winning sons Frere Jacques and Danon Ballade are both members of the same family, with Singspiel’s dam Glorious Song and her half-sister Angelic Song as their third and second dams respectively.
The roll call of great mares visiting Deep Impact will not stop there: Sarafina has recently been purchased privately by Yoshida from the Aga Khan following “an offer he could not turn down” and she is already confirmed among his book for 2012. The three-time Group 1 winner is just one of a clutch of recent high-profile European purchases by the Shadai operation, along with Stacelita and Sahpresa, while Yoshida has also bought significant shares in the Arc victrix Danedream and Prix Marcel Boussac winner Elusive Kate.
Along with these private purchases, the Yoshida family and plenty of other Japanese buyers have been active at recent sales in Europe and America, buying the top lot at Keeneland January and spending decent sums on Reve d’Iman, Wyola, On Verra and Lolly For Dolly at Tattersalls in December.
The flipside of so many European owners enjoying good sales is that these horses are now lost to the gene pool in this part of the world. The recent favourable exchange rate may have emboldened Japanese breeders but their commitment to excellence – specifically through top-class middle-distance bloodlines – is longstanding and makes them an increasingly dominant presence on racing’s world stage. As Andrew Caulfield points out in this month’s Caulfield Files, Orfevre may not be heading to Dubai but Japanese raiders are to be feared at the carnival. Last year’s one-two in the Dubai World Cup was no fluke and only tightened quarantine laws have prevented Japanese horses returning for assaults on the Melbourne Cup following the quinella of Delta Blues and Pop Rock in 2006.
What Gina did next
Since its inception, the committee of the TBA’s Next Generation Club has gone to great lengths in its attempts to introduce a younger audience to the delights of the sport.
One of its highest profile members is Gina Bryce, a presenter on At The Races and writer for this magazine, who has a lot of experience in both the racing and breeding side of the industry. Her parents Colin and Melba run Laundry Cottage Stud, which bred Wootton Bassett, and she rides out for the likes of Paul Cole, Michael Bell and John Berry.
On March 15, Bryce is aiming to add ‘Cheltenham Festival-winning jockey’ to her list of achievements when she lines up alongside 11 other riders for the St Patrick’s Day Derby, run in aid of Cancer Research UK.
Last year’s inaugural race raised £250,000. If you would like to help Gina and her fellow competitors to beat this tally, you can sponsor her via www.justgiving.com/GinaBryce.