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Tokyo trackwork and Japan Cup media conference - Thursday
24 Nov 2017 | Japan Racing Association 

Training report and media conference on Thursday for the foreign entries for the 37th Japan Cup (G1) (2400m) at Tokyo on Sunday.

The Joint Press Conference was held at Tokyo Racecourse after the morning workout. Questions and answers are as follows:


Weather: Rainy
Going: Muddy (dirt course), Good (turf course)


Idaho (IRE, C4, bay)

- jogged 1/2 lap right-handed, galloped 3/4 lap left-handed (turf course)
(exercised from 7:33 to 7:50, ridden by Ben Dalton)

Assistant Trainer (AT): Thomas Comerford

Q: What made you decide on running your horse in the Japan Cup, and who made the decision?
AT: Aidan decides through the year as he runs the horses and where he can go and half way through the season, between Aidan and Ryan Moore, he’ll make up his mind where he’s going to send the horses. It’s kind of a process of races, top European races, he’s been to America, to Saratoga and he’s been to France and then back to Woodbine. It’s nice to have a runner in these races and Aidan decided that and he likes to come here and that’s why we’re here.

Q: What is his best racing style and where will he be positioned during the race?
AT: He’s very quick out of the stalls—he’s a good starter. He can slide in anywhere, you can ride him whatever way you want but I think he needs a good strong gallop really to see him at his best. The ground doesn’t seem to bother him because he won the Hardwicke and he was third in the King George, which was a very good top-class race in Europe and the U.K. He gets a very good strong mile-and-a-half, he’s very consistent—his form has been very good all year. The latter part of it has dwindled a little but his run in the Arc was a good one as well because he was up there two furlongs out and, as you know, the Arc is a very good race.

Q: The going here at the Tokyo course has been very soft due to the bad weather so how would he adapt to that kind of surface?
AT: I don’t think the track would bother him. Obviously the soft ground from what we’ve seen in Europe was one of his very good runs in the King George, a top-class run, and the ground was very bad that day. I really don’t think that the ground is an issue and Ryan seems to think that the ground isn’t his issue either, so I wouldn’t focus too much on ground because he seems to go on anything.

Q: Idaho was raced in the Canadian International two weeks after his Arc start and the Japan Cup is his seventh start of the season. We understand that he is an excellent traveler, but have you had any trouble in maintaining his form?
AT: I think when you run in Woodbine, in Canada, I think it came in very quick for him. It probably wasn’t ideal after having such a hard race in France in the Prix de l’Arc, but this time of year, it’s coming to the end of our season and coming here is probably a big step. But saying that, since coming to Japan, he’s been very good and when I took him to Saratoga I was actually very happy with him as well. Looking at him here, he seems very good from day one from getting here, it was very straight forward, and he traveled here very well. I’d actually say he’s better here than he has been when we took him to Saratoga. So, it’s probably not a great clue because every time we took him away he hasn’t run the way we expected him. But I just see a change in him and I do definitely think he’ll run a big race and because he seems to be taking it well, maybe he’s grown up. He’s a hardy horse, he takes his races well and traveling doesn’t seem to bother him but maybe if you look at the gaps in his races, between France and Canada, it was a shorter gap. Maybe he needed a bit more time to get over it but the races were there and you want to train and win them. As regards of coming here I would be very happy with him.

Q: Can you expect him to race as well as he did when winning the Hardwicke Stakes?
AT: I’d expect that if you did see a performance like that, and if he was in the same form as in that race I’m sure you’d see a massive run from him then. If he isn’t in that frame of mind, I’m sure that would be good enough to put him under premises in the Japan Cup. As I say again he has come here well, he’s in very good form, he was very good this morning on the grass and it was nice to see it from him. He came back to his stable and he was very good after it. It was like he was at the races today so it was good for him.

Q: What is your ideal draw?
AT: Ideally, I’d like to be drawn middle to low but he’s very quick away and it’s a galloping track and to go pretty quick here, so I think if you could get drawn middle to low, which everybody wants to be drawn, I’m sure he’ll go quick and he’ll be able to slide in. You could ride him in the mid or handy or just take your time on him, depending on the pace, but I expect to have a good draw—that would be a big help to us anyway.

Q: Do you feel Idaho is one of those horses that may have been a little bit unlucky not to have achieved more in his career so far? He obviously slipped up in the St. Leger last year and he’s had a couple of runs where maybe just things haven’t fallen his way. Do you think there is a breakout performance waiting for him?
AT: I think so. He’s a very nice horse and he’s very easy to do outing with and he’s very straight forward, there’s no complications for him. He has his routine, you know he’s Highland Reel’s brother and he gets very sweaty before the preparation, so when you see him sweating it’s not unusual. Yes, he has been very unlucky and I took him to Doncaster that day, he was just unbelievable, because he did look like the winner. Coming into the straight, he was still under the bridle and he took that bad step—it was just one of those unlucky things that day. He has been probably a bit unlucky and at the same time, he seems to be just taking his time to come. I suppose we had him in good races, I suppose he has to step up to the place a bit now that we’ve come here. If you look closely into his form you can nearly make excuses for his few runs and the amount of runs he’s handled. He takes his races well and he’s in very good form at the moment. I was very pleased with him this morning on the grass. I send his work home every day to Aidan and he couldn’t be more pleased with him, so it was actually ideal that we got that drop of rain last night just to take that sting out of the ground so we could gallop him on the grass this morning, because we want to get him there in a hundred percent form and other than that you’d have to go on the dirt. Normally when we put them on the grass they know they are going to work so it was good to put him there this morning.

Guignol (GER, H5, dark bay or brown)

- hand-walked in the stable area

Trainer (T): Jean-Pierre Carvalho

Q: When and why did you decide on running your horse in the Japan Cup?
T: We first started considering it in August but made the final decision with the owner and the team to race him in the Japan Cup when he won the Grosser Preis von Bayen.

Q: What do you think is Guignol’s best racing style and positioning in the race?
T: The pace here is very different, much faster than the races in Germany We normally race him toward the front but here, we hope to race him in mid-division and enter the straight in fourth or fifth.

Q: Having rained considerably during this fall season in Japan, the turf is a little roughed up compared to other years. Would these conditions work to your horse’s advantage or disadvantage?
T: The ground in Germany has not been so good either so the horse should be used to it. Guignol can handle both grounds so it will not be a disadvantage for him.

Q: Guignol is coming off two G1 wins in Germany and the Japanese fans are looking forward to seeing him race in Japan. However, he has never been raced outside Europe in the past. Has he been able to adapt to environmental changes after the long transportation?
T: Guignol is used to traveling within Europe and is always in good condition even after the transportation.

Q: Guignol did not come out to the track today. What is the reason for this and how are you training him toward the race?
T: We always give him a quiet day before a big race and only light work. We decided to walk him around the stall today because it was raining hard and avoid any risk on the wet ground.

Q: Guignol had a fantastic autumn with a win in Baden-Baden and in Munich as well. The last race in Munich, a group-one race, was that the real target or prep-race for the Japan Cup? Is there more to come?
T: No we did not race him in the Grosser Preis von Bayern to prepare him for the Japan Cup. The two G1 races ran were our main target for this year.

Q: Looking at his past performances, Guignol seems to be strong when he races in the front but is there any temperamental reason that he needs to be raced up front?
T: Guignol is best when he can race up front but he doesn’t necessary have to be at the front as long as he can race comfortably at his own pace, although he does have a tendency to want to overtake whoever is in front of him.

Q: You came here in 2014 with Ivanhowe who ran a very solid race. How are your expectations this year with Guignol?
T: Ivanhowe was a very good horse and ran really well here. I think Guignol is as good a horse as he is and hope that he will do as well. It would be great if he can race within the top 4-5 horses.

Iquitos (GER, H5, bay)

- jogged 3/4 lap, cantered 1-1/2 lap (dirt course)
(exercised from 8:32 to 8:48, ridden by Simone Harnischmacher)

Owner (O): Werner Gerhold
Trainer (T): Hans-Jurgen Groschel

Q: What was the deciding factor in your bring Iquitos to the Japan Cup this year?
O: We are very happy to be here today as we certainly enjoyed our stay last year. We were only 0.6 second behind the winner last time and we are here in the hope of improving on that in the coming Japan Cup.

Q: Your horse was the top finisher among the three foreign horses that ran last year. What is your expectation for your horse this year?
O: He finished the best among the European horses last year which was a great satisfaction for us and we hope he will be the best of the European horses again this year.

Q: What would be the best position and style of racing for Iquitos in this race?
T: Iquitos is not the type of horse who dictates the pace in a race but would sit back and watch how the race is run from behind and move accordingly.

Q: Having rained considerably during this fall season in Japan, the turf is a little roughed up compared to other years. Would these conditions work to your horse’s advantage or disadvantage?
T: Rain does not bother Iquitos and he can act on any kind of ground condition—soft or firm—so I am expecting to see his usual good performance in the race.

Q: (Same question as the owner) having finished impressively in seventh last year, what is your expectations this year?
T: I always expect the best from my horse but like I said when interviewed last year, I have high hopes of him improving on his last performance this time.

Q: What number are you hoping for in the barrier draw?
T: If I was able to choose a number, somewhere in the middle, around six or seven, would work best for us.

Q: Please explain to us about his training and condition since his arrival.
T: While I heard reports of his progress after leaving Germany it was the first time in ten days, yesterday, that I saw him with my eyes and I was very happy to see that he was in good form and that the travel had not affected him at all.

Q: Iquitos was beaten by Guignol three times in the past year. How confident are you in turning the tables?
T: Yes he’s beaten us but Iquitos has also beaten him too and we’ll just have to see which horse finishes in front this time.

Q: This will be the second year in which you have brought Iquitos to the Japan Cup. How would you assess his form since then and how much has he matured?
T: Of course with age and the experience of the number of races, he has definitely matured as every season passes by and I am hopeful that he has improved into an even better form for the Japan Cup this year.

Boom Time (AUS, H6, bay)

- cantered 1-1/2 lap (dirt course)
(exercised from 8:02 to 8:12, ridden by Dara O’Meachair)

Owner & Trainer (O): David Hayes
Jockey (J): Cory Parish

Q: When and why did you decide on running your horse in the Japan Cup?
O: We were lucky enough to get a start in the Caulfield Cup and he won the race. Tom approached me straight after the race and invited us to come. We thought, it’s such a great race, why not!

Q: What do you think is Boom Time’s best racing style and positioning in the race?
O: I would say, racing from fifth to eighth position and exploding half way down the straight.

Q: Having rained considerably during this fall season in Japan, the turf is a little roughed up compared to other years. Would these conditions work to your horse’s advantage or disadvantage?
O: We would prefer firm but he has been placed a couple of times on similar conditions to today.

Q: Boom Time won the Caulfield Cup run over a distance of 2,400 meters, which is the same as the Japan Cup, but was 15th in the previous 3,200-meter Melbourne Cup. Do you think that the distance was too long for him?
O: Yes, the Melbourne Cup—two miles, 3,200 meters—was just too far for him. He’s actually bred to run about 1,200 meters. So I think he read his pedigree with 600 meters to run.

Q: You won the 1990 Japan Cup with Better Loosen Up. Please tell us the strong points of Boom Time and the difference between the two horses.
O: The similar thing is that both arrived in Japan in very good order and have adjusted to the climate and conditions. So both horses thrived when getting here. Better Loosen Up was a much higher rated horse in Australia than Boom Time but Boom Time is a proven mile and a half horse where Better Loosen Up was a proven 2,000-meter horse at the time before the Japan Cup. So I don’t think we can compare the two horses.

Q: This will be the first Australian-trained horse in 14 years to run in the Japan Cup, which is attracting the attentions of the Japanese fans. Please tell us your expectations for the race.
O: We’re very excited to be here. Being here just this morning brought back a lot of happy memories. I’ve had two runners here, for a winner and an unlucky sixth with Jeune. So we’re hoping we can be competitive and ride up the top end of the order.

Q: What stall would you like to draw?
O: In the middle to inside. Can that be arranged?

Q: What do you think is Boom Time’s best racing style and positioning in the race?
J: I think, just where he is comfortable, in the middle of the pack, depending on tempo related. Noticing the tempo is quite fast in Japan from Australia, might put us a couple of piers back further than normally in Australia.

Q: This is your first visit to Japan. What is your impression of horseracing in Japan and the Japan Cup?
J: This is my first time in Japan. I haven’t been to Japan even for a holiday. It’s an amazing country. The racing is very big here, I can see how well you guys look after it and promote it. It’s quite amazing. It’s fantastic to be here.

Q: From the time that you brought Better Loosen Up here until bringing this horse here now, has much changed with, say the type of horse you need to bring to win this race, the way you need to travel them and anything like that?
O: I think traveling horses from 27 years ago is definitely much easier on the horse. We feel that as long as the horse is eating well and hydrating himself by his intake of water, there really hasn’t been a lot of changes, I don’t think. Coming back from a Melbourne Cup, obviously, he’s not going to do much work because he’s very fit.

Q: Do you think his best asset is his strength and speed in the finish
O: His best win was the Caulfield Cup, and the horse he beat nearly won the Melbourne Cup. That was a grueling race, which I thought was run at a tempo that the Japan Cup might be run, so I think that would stand him in good stat.



Boom Time (AUS) and Cory Parish winning the 2017 Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield, picture Quentinjlang.com




 
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