ARE JAPANESE RACEHORSES OVER RATED?
Some of the post race commentary following Admire Rakti’s blistering win in last Saturday’s Caulfield Cup has yet again proven how reactionary and knee jerk Australian racing is in their analysis of race track performances, which are out of the ordinary.
The sheer class and race track performances of Japanese bred and trained racehorses are not in dispute. Their deeds speak loud enough, particularly at home where a very economically viable and elitist industry thrives.
Unlike many comparable racing jurisdictions which also have as their foundation stone – a high quality and elite breeding industry- Japanese racing is still very protective of its racing industry.
Whilst in recent times, Japanese owners, trainers and their racehorses have reversed their reluctance to travel and compete against the world’s best racehorses in the world’s best Group One races, their industry is still, in today’s globalized world, more than a tad Howard Hughes-type reclusive.
If you are an Australian or Hong Kong owner, or for that matter, from anywhere else in the world, you, nor Mr Origato, just can’t enter a Japanese sales ring and purchase one of their yearlings. Nor can you send your mare to one of their world class champion stallions to breed from unless you are able to cut through a complex series of criteria- and then seek appropriate approval to do so.
The Japanese breeding industry has achieved its elite status through a very carefully crafted strategy of raiding some of the best European and American pedigrees with their open cheque book purchases of champion breeding and racing stock over the past several decades.
It is a strategy that in recent times has also applied to Australia with champion race mares such as Mosheen and Shamrocker, to name just a few, changing residence to the best stud farms in Japan.
The resurgence of the Japanese breeding industry has been overseen by the active involvement of the mega wealthy and powerful Yoshida family who have committed a very large fortune into their breeding and racing operations, and, in a brilliant piece of strategy, entered into joint ventures with leading Australian owners and breeders.
The flow on to attracting owners with unlimited cash at their disposal to invest in racing has worked exceptionally well, resulting in a influx of a Ricky Tondo (owner of last Saturday’s Caulfield Cup winner Admire Rakti) demographic into Japanese racing.
When Zac Purton described Admire Rakti post race as belonging to the “C” grade of Japanese stayers, he was on the money.
There are better stayers in Japan than Admire Rakti, and while he was stamping his dominance over the Australian stayers and the European imports last Saturday, the “A” graders were getting ready for Japan’ s premier staying race – the Japan Cup in late November.
To be fair to Admire Rakti, he did run fourth to the champion mare Gentildonna in last year’s Japan Cup. But the point to remember is that the “A” grade Japanese racehorses target their Group One races – domestic and International held on their home soil, ahead of any International races outside Japan.
It is the reason why this elite tier of Japanese horses don’t rack up frequent flyer points except for races such as the “Arc”, arguably the world’s best race, and which to win it being the dream of every racehorse owner anywhere in the world. And to put further perspective on Japanese racehorses, they have been in the runner-up stall on three occasions, but have yet to claim the coveted winning trophy.
What would be a fairer test of the Japanese thoroughbreds is if they were to take on the likes of Treve, Taghrooda, Australia, Kingman, Charmed Spirit and the like – Europe’s best- regularly.
In a nutshell, there is no doubting the quality of the Japanese thoroughbred. But to put such a wide space between them and the rest of the elite thoroughbreds in other parts of the world is just a tad over the top.
LOWERING THE TAKE OUT RATE IN NSW- AND KEEPING AN EYE ON WHERE THE MONEY GOES.
If the rumours coming out of State Government corridors are correct, NSW racing is on track to receive a much needed boost to its coffers.
If that scenario comes to fruition, let’s just hope that Racing Minister Troy Grant replicates his Victorian counterpart and Premier Denis Napthine, and exercises absolute control of how the extra money is spent.
What many in NSW fear is that if it is transferred to Racing NSW’s bank account with no conditions or parameters as to how the money is spent, it will finish up in prize money – the larger portion to the metropolitan pool, which, at the current levels of $85,000, have failed so dismally to regularly attract field sizes on Saturday’s and Wednesday’s in excess of seven or eight starters.
Troy Grant needs to establish a Racing Industry Fund similar to Victoria, where applications to access funding for racing projects and even prize money are assessed prior to the cheques being signed off by Treasury.
In this way, and this way only, can there be a real guarantee that the genuine cries for help by the Provincial and Country Clubs to fix the decaying and decayed infrastructure in these neglected regions of NSW are addressed.
Perhaps Troy Grant could also challenge Racing NSW to first fix up the appallingly small fields in metropolitan Sydney prior to even considering using some of the extra funding to top up the already more than adequate prize money, which, increasingly, ends up in the bank balances of the usual suspects in Sydney racing.
IF SYDNEY RACING HAS BECOME CHRIS WALLER RACING WHOSE FAULT IS THAT?
This Saturday’s Rosehill program is further proof, not that much more is needed, of the parlous state of Sydney racing with premier trainer Chris Waller again forced to rescue races from being embarrassingly culled from the program for lack of more than three or four runners.
Waller’s rescue mission has resulted in three races on the eight race card having sufficient numbers to attract a reasonable wagering pool, which, of course, could change dramatically with scratchings on race morning.
But the racing industry being what it is, petty jealousies and suppressed animosities have risen to the fore with many of Waller’s rivals launching some vitriolic and covert verbal assaults on Sydney’s premier trainer.
The blame game which is a defining feature of the DNA of Australian racehorse trainers has been pointed again at Waller.
Apart from being grossly unfair, it detracts from the real problems of Sydney racing, which have got absolutely bugger all to do with Chris Waller’s success and domination of Sydney racing from a numerical perspective.
Chris like Gai and Team Hawkes, Gerald Ryan, Kris Lees, Tony McEvoy, Joe Pride and David Vandyke, attracts a strong ownership base which directly relates to success. It’s about training winners. Regularly.
And where he’s been clever is in identifying some very glaring opportunities, particularly in the staying ranks, assembled a strong ownership group and raided the various horses in training sales In Europe and replenished his staying stocks each year resulting in a virtual monopoly of Sydney’s distance races.
Chris Waller is not the cause of the escalating problems with Sydney racing. Uh uh. It’s a multitude of fundamental issues around programming, handicapping, an imbalance of prize money, and a deliberate shift towards a bias towards the larger, more successful trainers and their cliques of mega rich owners.
It’s called elite racing and it inevitably leads to a decline in the diversity of the owners and trainers base, which is a feature of Melbourne racing, and is arguably one of the most potent reasons for the superior racing product that it offers.
TAKE THE RAP AND MOVE ON,MICHELLE. PUHLEEEZE.
Michelle Payne is arguably the poster girl in the female jockey ranks in Melbourne. She has also demonstrated that she is more than capable of holding her own against her male counterparts in a race. She’s won group ones and can ride.
Her good looks have turned many a head on and off the track and led many into the confessional for spiritually breaking one or more of the ten commandments.
But, like every other jockey she can put in a shocker of a ride. And at last Saturday’s Caulfield Cup meeting, her ride on the warm favourite Azekedalia in the opening race was a shocker.
Not only did it raise eyebrows and vocal condemnation from the punters who burned their money, but it ignited the customary conspiracy theories among the racing fraternity which bad rides on fancied horses inevitably produce- in this instance, the winner of the race, Sea Spray, pulling off a substantial, sustained betting plunge.
What gave the whole episode further oxygen was an unnecessary spat on social media between Michelle and others, which merely prolonged the focus on the ride and the successful betting plunge on the race winner.
Michelle, not unlike many in racing, struggles with having the streetwise tactical nous to put the zipper to their lips and let the petty gossips and rumour mongers choke their miserable lives with their social media rantings and ravings, spurred on by some very prominent racing media types who have similarly degenerated into the same depths as the social media trolls.
Damian Oliver demonstrated to all and sundry, inside and outside racing, that once you have admitted guilt, as he did when fessing up and being found guilty of betting, just let the bottom feeders with limited intellect have their day in the sun and make dicks of themselves as they always do.
Do the same, Michelle.
Hans, Yes Chris is definitely not the problem. As an owner of his for some years, and part of the Raffles team which supports him strongly, I can say categorically that he gives a superb service to his patrons. There is an intimacy, a personal contact that is incredible given the size of the operation and of course, above everything, he and the brilliant team of horsemen and women he has assembled, produce unrivalled results. Trust all is well with you, look forward to catching up around Marouche. Best, Lawrence.