The sun keeps rising for Team Japan

The powerhouse Japanese trio of Mikki Isle, Real Impact & Maurice have 19 yearlings at Magic Millions 2021. (PHOTOS: Bronwen Healy)

Four decades on from the inaugural Japan Cup, launched to test and improve the quality of home-bred horses, the bloodstock world’s respect for Japanese breeding & racing is now well-established. 

Last weekend’s 2020 edition of the Cup will surely appear on most lists of the year’s best racing contests. The first three home, Northern Farm’s home-bred champion Almond Eye, triumphant in her final race, and 3YO Champions-elect Contrail & Daring Tact, will surely dominate Japan’s end-of-year awards. 

Australia has exceptional access to Japanese bloodlines, thanks in part to Arrowfield’s long-standing relationships with Northern Farm and the Shadai Stallion Station. Those relationships have introduced four Group 1-winning Japanese sires, three of them by supersire Deep Impact, to Australian owners & breeders since 2016.  Three have runners while the first foals of the fourth, Dubai Group 1 winner Real Steel, have arrived this Spring.

The Japanese fees for two of those young stallions, Horse of the Year Maurice and Champion Sprinter-Miler Mikki Isle have been substantially increased for 2021, on the back of their strong first-crop results. 

Maurice, who leads Japan’s First Season Sires’ list with 28 winners and is in a tight battle with Duramente for the earnings title, will stand in 2021 at ¥8 million (~A$100,000), double his previous fee. 

Mikki Isle has left dual Group 3 winner Meikei Yell and unbeaten Listed stakeswinner among his nine first-crop 2YO winners and will stand at ¥2.5 million (~A$30,000), up from ¥1.5 million in 2020.

Second-season sire Real Impact, remembered in Australia for his heroic 2015 George Ryder S. G1 win, has made good progress with 46 winners in 2020 headed by NHK Mile Cup G1 winner Lauda Sion.

There’s been good news from Australia for this trio too. Mikki Isle is one of nine first-crop sires that have already posted their first winners, in his case the Gillian Heinrich-trained Arrowfield graduate Oriental Princess. She won her debut by 1.8 lengths on 25 October.

Sixteen days later Mikki Isle’s son out of In The Clear (by Redoute’s Choice) topped the Magic Millions 2YOs in Training Sale when he was knocked down for $500,000 to Gary Moore. 

That was a tremendous result for Melanie O’Gorman who bought the colt for $82,500 from Arrowfield’s Magic Millions yearling draft in January.

Another Arrowfield graduate, 2YO colt Invinsible Tears came close to giving Maurice his first Australian winner when second at the Sunshine Coast last month. This week’s stylish Rosehill trial winner, the John Sargent-trained filly Healthy Beauty also looks capable of an early win and is nominated for January’s Magic Millions 2YO Classic RL.  

Real Impact has compiled 11 winners from his two Australian crops of racing age, including stakes-placed juvenile winner Outburst and progressive 3YO winners Count de Rupee, Sista Elenore, Real Hussey, Tempel One and Real Peace (also 3rd in the $1 million Bondi Stakes).

The 2021 Magic Millions Gold Coast catalogue includes 19 yearlings by Maurice, Mikki Isle or Real Impact – 16 offered by Arrowfield and three colts in the drafts of Kitchwin Hills, Newhaven Park & Tartan Fields. 

Arrowfield’s consignment also features a colt and a filly by the sensational Champion Sprinter Lord Kanaloa, the sire of Almond Eye and Blue Diamond S. G1 winner & future stallion Tagaloa, bought for $300,000 from Arrowfield’s 2019 Magic Millions draft by Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young.  

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