By Jon Lees
Japan: Triple Crown hero Contrail could start his four-year-old campaign in the Dubai Turf before staying at home for the rest of the year after trainer Yoshito Yahagi outlined a 2021 campaign that does not feature the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Contrail has a record of seven wins from eight starts and suffered his only defeat in the Japan Cup at the hands of the Almond Eye, currently rated world #1 on the Thoroughbred Racing Commentary’s global rankings.
The brilliant son of legendary sire Deep Impact was not entered in the 2020 Arc in order to focus on becoming the first horse since Orfevre in 2011 to complete the Triple Crown of the Satsuki Sho (2,000 Guineas), Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) and the Kikuka Sho (St Leger).
Despite the Arc’s status as a ‘holy grail’ to the Japanese racing community, ParisLongchamp was not among the options as for 2021 as Yahagi gave more details of his preferred schedule for the superstar colt’s four-year-old campaign.
“I think his best is 1,800m-2,000m, no matter how far he goes.” the trainer said in an interview with Nikkan Sports. “I really want to use the Dubai Turf.”
Yahagi added his ideal schedule would comprise the Osaka Hai and Takarazuka Kinen in the spring with three targets in the autumn, after which Contrail would probably be retired.
“In autumn, I would like to try three things if possible, Tenno Sho, Japan Cup, Arima Kinen,” he said. ”I didn’t use Arima Kinen last year. However, after all, Japanese horse racing fans have a special feeling for Arima.”
“I want to have a happy ending in the Arima”, he said, admitting the schedule was “very tight, but I have a strong desire to take on the challenge”.
The G1 Dubai Turf, part of the Dubai World Cup card on March 27, has regularly attracted top talent from Japan, which has won the race four times in the last six runnings. Almond Eye carried off the prize – down to $4m from $6m for 2021 owing to Covid-19 economic imperatives – when it was last run in 2019 and Yahagi won it himself with Real Steel in 2016.
Among other Japanese horses set for Meydan is dirt star Master Fencer, who was sixth in the Kentucky Derby and fifth in the Belmont Stakes two years ago. Now five, he is being considered for the Dubai World Cup.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe betting (Ladbrokes): 7 Tarnawa, 8 Love, 16 Contrail, 20 High Defintion, Mishriff, Mogul, 25 In Swoop, Verry Elleegant, Wonderful Tonight, 33 bar
• Visit the Japan Racing Association website