Japan send biggest-ever team for Dubai World Cup night

Schnell Meister is the highest-rated of the Japanese horses

By Leslie Wilson Jr

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Joao Moreira celebrates after riding Glory Vase to victory in the Hong Kong Vase international horse race on December 12, 2021. (AFP)
Joao Moreira celebrates after riding Glory Vase to victory in the Hong Kong Vase international horse race on December 12, 2021. (AFP)

Published: Wed 16 Mar 2022, 11:54 PM

Buoyed by their sweeping success at last month’s Saudi Cup meeting, Japan is set to be represented by no less than 24 horses at next Saturday’s Dubai World Cup meeting.

Japan-based runners captured four stakes races on the Saudi Cup card last month following which a big team shipped straight to Dubai.

Schnell Meister is the highest-rated of the Japanese horses. He is currently the ante-post favourite to win the $5mllion Dubai Turf.

Schnell Meister did not race at the Saudi meeting and has travelled directly from Japan to Meydan’s DWC quarantine centre.

Schnell Meister made history when he became the first German-bred winner of NHK Mile Cup and the first overseas-bred colt to capture the prestigious prize after Kurofne in 2001.

Lando was officially the first German-bred to secure a Japan Racing Association Group 1 victory when successful in the 1995 Japan Cup.

Schnell Meister won his first two career starts before finishing second to subsequent Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas, G1, 2,000m) runner-up, Titleholder in the Yayoi Sho (Deep Impact Kinen, G2, 2,000m).

For his trainer Takahisa Tezuka, it was a seventh JRA-G1 crown and a second for French jockey Christophe Lemaire, who is the rage in Japan, after his victory in 2016 with Major Emblem.

Japan is set to be mob-handed in the $6 million 2,400 metre Dubai Sheema Classic with last year’s Japanese Derby winner Shahryar, dual Hong Kong Vase winner Glory Vase, and Authority, who won the Neom Turf Cup in Riyadh among the quintet.

A pair of Japanese Oaks winners Uberleben and the highly-regarded filly Stella Veloce complete the formidable Japanese line-up in the world’s richest turf race over 2,400m

Japan has a strong record in the $5million Dubai Turf, having won the 1,800 metre contest four out of the last seven times, and will be represented by a trio of classy turf specialists as they bid to build on that record.

Meanwhile, Stay Foolish, who won the Red Sea Turf Handicap at the Saudi Cup meeting, takes his chance in the Dubai Gold Cup. He is one of four Meydan runners for trainer Yoshito Yahagi, who has tasted success in Australia’s Cox Plate and also scored a historic double at the Breeders’ Cup.

Chuwa Wizard was runner-up to Mystic Guide in last year’s Dubai World Cup and will bid to go one better as Japan’s lone entry in the feature race.

The Japanese breeding industry is going from strength to strength and although they did not deliver any wins at last year’s meeting, five horses finished in the top three, four of whom were runners-up and one a third-place finisher in the day’s four Group 1 races — the Dubai Golden Shaheen, Dubai Turf, Dubai Sheema Classic and the Dubai World Cup.

Although Japan is five hours ahead of Dubai, thousands of fans are expected to stay up late to watch their runners perform at the Meydan extravaganza.

The horse-loving nation’s phenomenal success at the Saudi Cup will have created more interest for this year’s Meydan showpiece.

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