Aidan O’Brien targets Japan Cup success with Capri

Win in 38th running of event will deliver trainer Group One glory in a tenth country

  Dean Gallagher on Capri. Aidan O’Brien is hoping to conquer Japan with Capri on Sunday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Dean Gallagher on Capri. Aidan O’Brien is hoping to conquer Japan with Capri on Sunday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

There isn’t much Aidan O’Brien hasn’t conquered during his legendary career but Capri is set to try to break new ground for Ireland’s champion trainer in Japan this Sunday.

Victory in the 38th running of the Japan Cup will deliver O’Brien Group One glory in a tenth country.

Dominant in Europe’s greatest prizes, and with top-flight success to his credit around the globe from both the US and Canada to Australia and Hong Kong, O’Brien has nevertheless yet to hit the Group One bullseye in Japan.

Idaho ran fifth in the race last year. He was O’Brien’s first runner in the near $6 million highlight since Joshua Tree was unplaced in 2010.

A total of 14 overseas horses have won Japanese racing’s most famous international prize including the Frank Dunne-trained Stanerra who won for Ireland all of 35 years ago.

However, the raiders have drawn a blank since Alkassed in 2005 and it proved a dark day in particular for Jim Bolger’s Irish Derby winner Trading Leather in 2014 when he suffered fatal injuries during the race.

This time international hopes for the mile and a half turf event run at Tokyo racecourse on Sunday morning will revolve around Capri and the English-trained Thundering Blue.

Both horses arrived in Japan last week, in Capri’s case after a 24-hour trip from Ireland.

No problems

The Japan Racing Association quoted O’Brien’s representative Pat Keating who said: “The horse is in good condition and there are no problems with him. Once we move to Tokyo racecourse we are planning to train him on the turf course there.”

Some bookmakers rate Capri a 10-1 shot to give Ryan Moore a second Japan Cup victory following his 2013 success on Gentildonna.

However, last year’s Irish Derby and English Leger hero faces a formidable task against home opposition that includes the current odds-on favourite Almond Eye.

The three-year-old won the fillies Triple Crown in Japan this year. She is likely to be joined in the race by last year’s winner Cheval Grand. That six-year-old was also third in the 2016 Japan Cup.

In other flat racing news, the decision to keep Enable in training in 2019 with a view to her trying to become the first horse ever to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe three times has been welcomed as superb news for racing in general.

The French champion filly Treve failed in her hat-trick attempt in France’s most famous race in 2015. However, Enable has been made a 7-2 favourite to go one better at Longchamp next October.

Interrupted preparation

John Gosden’s star overcame an interrupted preparation to win the Arc for a second time last month and followed it up with an exciting victory in the Breeders Cup Turf. On Monday Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte farms operation confirmed Enable will race on as a five-year-old.

“This is truly superb news for the sport as Enable succeeded where eight other Arc winners failed by adding a Breeders Cup win to her success in Paris,” a Paddy Power spokesman said. “Now she can try and become the first horse to complete an Arc treble.”

Enable became the eighth horse to win the Arc twice when defeating Sea Of Class last month. Should she win it again next year it will make Abdullah the most successful owner in Arc history with seven victories in all beginning with Rainbow Quest 33 years ago.

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