Japan has been represented in the iconic Melbourne Cup just once since the equine influenza horror in 2007 but this year Victoria’s big spring cups have been confirmed as targets for one of the East Asian country’s most exciting stayers Admire Rakti.
Last seen running 10th as the beaten favourite in the Group 2 Meguro Kinen (2500m) in Tokyo last Sunday, connections of the Tomoyuki Umeda-trained stallion still plan to travel to Australia later in the year eyeing off the riches of our world famous Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
Admitting there was still a long road ahead for the now five-year-old to qualify for and make the final 24-horse field for the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday of November, Racing Victoria’s international talent scout Leigh Jordon was pleased to announce the confirmation Admire Rakti would embark down that road.
The horse, winner of the Group 3 Diamond Stakes over 3400m in Tokyo back in February, will also be aimed at October’s $2.6 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) where a top three finish would all but ensure their spot in the Melbourne Cup.
“Even though there’s still a long way to go, it’s really pleasing to have it confirmed that a Japanese runner is being prepared for the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup,” Jordon said.
“Japanese stayers are regarded among the strongest in the world and have already proven themselves in Australia through the deeds of Delta Blues and Pop Rock.”
The 2006 Melbourne Cup was a golden edition for Japan as they ran the quinella in the world’s richest handicap, Delta Blues narrowly holding off that year’s Meguro Kinen winner and their stablemate Pop Rock to win by a short half head.
The Katsuiko Sumii-trained Dance In The Dark stallion Delta Blues was the last and to date only Japanese-trained Melbourne Cup winner.
There has also been just one other Japanese galloper to start in the classic since then with Tokai Trick finishing a well beaten 12th to the French-trained champion Americain three years ago.
Admire Rakti announced themselves as a serious Melbourne Cup contender with their eye-catching fourth in the Group 1 Tenno Sho earlier this month, a race the 2011 Melbourne Cup runner-up Red Cadeaux ran third in.
Their owner Richii Kondo was “upbeat” about their chances in the Australian races according to Jordon who has been engaged in ongoing discussions with a number of key Japanese racing officials in recent weeks.
“He (Kondo) was very upbeat about coming to Australia,” Jordon said.
“He wanted to know what a trip to Australia involved, and was very pleased at what we had to offer and what our racing had to offer.
“He has been a long-time owner in Japan and seemed genuinely excited by the challenge of coming to Australia.
“We had some very encouraging talks.
“I think we have had just one runner from Japan in nearly eight years but we know the vast resources and depth of distance racehorses they have over there.
“We still want to build our major races in the spring with horses from across the world. They seem interested again in making the trip. We seem to have got over any quarantine problems.”