THE Japan Cup is the among most prestigious races held in that country and witnessing this year’s edition was an unforgettable moment for Philippine representatives who were there.
Among those who attended were Philippine Racing Commission Chairman Andrew Sanchez and Executive Director Andrew Rovie Buencamino, and Manila Jockey Club CEO lawyer King Reyno.
Dr. Buencamino, a veterinarian, posted an enthusiastic, photo-filled reportage about the event on his Facebook page.
First, a backgrounder: The Japan Cup (Japan Kappu, JPN G1) is held on the last Sunday of November at Tokyo Racecourse, at a distance of 2,400 meters on turf. The maximum number of runners is 18, with weight-for-age handicapping.
It is one of the richest races in the world with a purse of about $5.8 million, and thus attracts entries from all over the world.
The race was established by the Japan Racing Association as, according to an online source, an “international invitational race in order for local racehorses to have the opportunity to compete against horses of an international caliber and to promote goodwill within the racing community worldwide.”
JRA held a welcome dinner at the Conrad Hotel at which they presented Chairman Sanchez with a racetrack survey report of the three Philippine racing clubs (details about that in a future column).
The Japan Cup was held at Tokyo Racecourse located in the shadow of Mount Fuji. The track was described by Dr. Buencamino as “impressive” with “four racetracks within – turf, dirt, turf for steeplechase, then dirt again for training.”
The Philippine delegation was given the privilege of observing the behind-the-scenes at the backroom, pre-race, and post-race operations of the JRA. Buencamino visited the jockeys’ quarters and saw “Japan’s number one jockey Yutaka Take preparing for his mount, Kitasan Black, the top favorite to win the Japan Cup.”
Buencamino added that some 160,000 spectators showed up to watch the race, which was won by Cheval Grand, Hugh Bowman aboard.
As Conor Walsh reported on punters.com.au, “Well-supported favourite Kitasan Black quickly found the lead from a favourable draw and controlled the race before booting away at the top of the straight, but Bowman stalked his way into clear running and pounced with a beautifully-timed run to land the famous race.” 2nd Rey de Oro, 3rd Kitasan Black.
For his feat Bowman was awarded 2017 Longines World’ Best Jockey.
Walsh added, “The win was Cheval Grand’s first Group 1 success and was a case of revenge after finishing third in the same race behind Kitasan Black last year, and second to the same stallion in the last two runnings of the Tenno Sho (Spring).”
Cheval Grand is expected to enter the Arima Kinen Stakes (G1) in late December, along with Kitasan Black for which this might be his last race before retiring to stud next year.
During the duration of the Philippine delegation’s stay, they were treated with the warmest hospitality by JRA. Their generosity did not stop there. “JRA donated a portable x-ray machine for equine lameness diagnosis,” said Buencamino, who carried home the 25-kgs. piece of equipment. “Now we will be able to do actual pre-race and post-race diagnoses, and not just rely on physical examination [of the horses].”
Not only that, Buencamino said JRA gave him “a lecture on their drug testing procedure, courtesy of Dr. Motoki Ito, DVM, deputy general of their equine department. They opened their doors to conduct trainings for our veterinarians with regards to drug testing and lameness diagnosis.”
With their offer to share knowledge, techniques, and best practices, and their donation of equipment, JRA proves itself a shining example of partnership and cooperation as a member of the international racing community.
Buencamino congratulated “all the people behind the successful holding of the 37th Japan Cup” and thanked the JRA for inviting the Philracom to the prestigious event, particularly JRA’s Hiroyuki Koezuka and Masashi Shoju.
Dr. Ortuoste is a California-based writer and researcher. Facebook: Gogirl Racing and Jenny Ortuoste, Twitter: @gogirlracing and @jennyortuoste