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Cup on the Japanese Radar

Yoshito Yahagi

26.03.2022 (© imago images / Galoppfoto), Dubai, VAE – Portrait of jockey Yutaka Yoshida and trainer Yoshito Yahagi. Meydan racecourse.

Though it probably should come as no surprise to us, Japan has leapt right up to the top table of international horse racing and now at least one of the racing superpower’s top trainers has his sights set firmly on the 2022 Melbourne Cup.

Following some huge success at the Saudi Cup meeting, the Dubai World Cup was another huge success for the country. Now, Royal Ascot in England and the Melbourne Spring Carnival are firmly on the agenda.

Stay Foolish to Spearhead Bid to Better 2019 Carnival

Top-class trainer Yoshito Yahagi scored a famous treble at Meydan over the weekend. One of his high-profile winners was Stay Foolish in the 3200-metre Dubai Gold Cup. Now, the son of Stay Gold could be aimed at the Melbourne Cup in November having beaten hot favourite Manobo.

Though success hasn’t yet come on a grand scale at Royal Ascot or in the States at the Breeders’ Cup, the strength of the Japanese is already well known within Australia.

During the 2019 carnival, two major races were taken by Japanese trainers. Hisashi Shimizu trained Mer De Glace to land the Caulfield Cup, while Yahagi himself was responsible for Cox Plate scorer Lys Gracieux.

Both horses were ridden by Damien Lane and he remains an important connection. Lane piloted Koichi Shintani’s Crown Pride to land the UAE Derby on Saturday. It would be a fair bet that he’ll be asked to ride the top raiders at this year’s carnival too.

Major International Targets Coming Together

In winning the UAE Derby, Crown Pride qualified immediately for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7. He appears certain to head there now, something the Derby’s organisers have been keen to achieve.

With America already pencilled in, it seems Stay Foolish will face a rematch with Manobo in England. The Dubai Gold Cup winner looks sure to take part in the Ascot Gold Cup in June. Following that, a decision will be made on whether he takes in the Arc de Triomphe or runs at Flemington on November 1.

It appears that in the case of Stay Foolish, running in the Cup comes down to the owner.

Trainer Yoshito Yahagi spoke after his Dubai success and intimated that Melbourne is his first choice. However, owner Teruya Yoshida reckons the Arc in Paris will suit the horse and he won’t take in both races.

While the Arc is run over 2400 metres, Stay Foolish’s 3200-metre form stands as the best in the world right now.

In Saudi Arabia, the bay destroyed Cup contender Sonnyboyliston by four lengths. Having now taken care of the previously unbeaten Manobo, he’s likely seen now as the best stayer in the world.

Now, though Incentivise and Verry Elleegant remain at the head of the early betting market for the Melbourne Cup, Stay Foolish has been bumped into $15 from $26 joint second favourite.

Read more news about the Melbourne Cup.

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