A host of Japanese-trained stars are set to descend on Sydney’s feature races during The Championships this autumn carnival, four of the country’s headline runners confirmed for Royal Randwick later this year.
The lucrative $3 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) on April 4 is the target for Deep Impact stallion World Ace and triple Group 1 winning seven-year-old mare by the same sire Real Impact, while lightly-raced Tosen Stardem and fellow four-year-old To The World will target the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) the following Saturday.
A multiple elite level performer back home, three-times stakes winner World Ace may be a six-year-old but he has had just seven starts to date after missing nearly two years of racing from May 2012 to his return in April last year.
Fourth in the 2012 Japanese Derby he returned to win first-up at Group 2 level over the mile last April winning the Yomiuri Milers Cup in record time (1.31.4).
World Ace was most recently seen crossing fourth behind Able Friend in the Group 1 The Longines Hong Kong Mile (1600m) at Sha Tin on December 14.
Fellow Doncaster Mile bound Real Impact has more experience on track with over 20 starts to the seven-year-old’s name, most notably his Group 1 Yasuda Kinen (1608m) win in June of 2011.
Since then he’s had two Group 2 victories the latest of which came last start at Hanshin Racecourse on December 27 in the Hansin Turf Cup when successfully defending his title on December 27, William Buick aboard for his narrow nose win over Copano Richard.
A performer up to 3016m, the longer distanced Queen Elizabeth Stakes looks a gun target for Deep Impact four-year-old Tosen Stardom who has won one of his five runs so far.
That victory came on December 13 when breaking his maiden status after a host of top class but unplaced runs in tougher company in the Group 3 Challenge Cup (1810m).
Also eyeing a Queen Elizabeth Stakes win and the juicy winners’ cheque, King Kamehameha stallion To The World has winning form up to 2011m at Group 2 level back home when beating subsequent Japanese Derby winner One And Only in the Hochi Hai Yayoi Sho at Nakayama in March.
He was last seen crossing a brave second just three-quarters of a length off champion galloper Gentildonna in the Group 1 Arima Kinen (2514m) last Sunday at Nakayama.
He surged late to finish runner-up to a genuine turf hero in that December 28 The Grand Prix showdown, the Arima Kinen field also featuring Japan Cup winner Epiphaneia (5th) and five-time Group 1 champ Gold Ship (3rd).
To The World looks the most likely of the Japanese raiders to steal the glory down under in an autumn major, but Racing NSW Chairman John Messara said all four were big guns with big hopes down under.
“They’re not here to get beaten,” Messara told Sky Sports radio on Friday morning.
“They are sending horses which are fit and well, recent winners in good form. They’re serious about this.”
Messara said the confirmation of the strong Japanese presence during The Championship races in 2015 was proof the substantial increase in prize money for races like the Queen Elizabeth Stakes was doing its job to lure more internationals to Sydney during the autumn.
“That’s what international competition is all about,” he said.
“It makes for improvement among our own industry…we will need to aim-up.”
Last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival Japan enjoyed success at the top level with Hana’s Goal, the Kazuhiro Kato-trained mare beating a brigade of locals in the Group 1 Schweppes All Aged Stakes (1400m) on April 26 with Australia’s Nash Rawiller in the saddle.
She also contested the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) first-up when a luckless 14th crossing under six lengths off the winning mare Steps In Time, and made up good late ground after getting pushed back to last on the turn to finish sixth to Sacred Falls in last year’s Doncaster Mile.