Japanese Oaks Tips & Betting Preview

Despite the lack of coverage here in Europe (other than on myracing of course) Japanese racing is pretty close to the best in the World at the moment with their raiders regularly picking up big prizes around the World including France, Hong Kong, and Australia for starters. Their Oaks (or Yushun Himba to be exact) is run over 2400mtrs so is not dissimilar to ours in distance and will be as competitive as ever in 2017 with a full field of eighteen expected to go to post in a race that seems sure to be run at a fast and furious pace as is usually the way at the Tokyo track.

IN SUMMARY: With 100 Million Yen up for grabs for the winner (or about £689,000) this was always going to be as competitive as you would expect for a Classic but if SOUL STIRRING gets the trip she has to be of some serious interest. A daughter of the legendary Frankel, she was beaten for the first time in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) last time out but may be worth another chance. Reine Minoru is looking to become only the fourteenth filly in history to land the 1000 Guineas/Oaks double here but there have to be nagging doubts about her stamina here though that remark should not apply to Lys Gracieux who ought to improve for this trip and looks a sensible alternative for anyone betting without the favourite.

Running through the main contenders in a bit more detail and we have to start with Soul Stirring who will attempt to do something her father (Frankel) never even attempted, and win over a mile and a half. Her earlier wins have worked out well and include a two length victory over Persian Knight – perhaps the stand out form – with the runner up going on to finish second in the Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) which really franks the form. Her mother is Stacelita who won the Group One Prix Vermeille over this trip at Longchamp (after the disqualification of Dar Re Mi, and there is every hope she will get this trip – and even improve for it – to become the fourth winning favourite in the last ten renewals under jockey Christophe Lemaire who only adds to the European connection.

If Reine Minoru can be covered up early by jockey Kenichi Ikezoe, then it will certainly be intriguing to see how she gets on as she looks to land the 1000 Guineas and Oaks double. She was a 40/1 outsider that day and the form has largely been written off thanks to the softened track, but her name is already on the trophy and history cannot be changed regardless. As a daughter of Daiwa Major out of a Taiki Shuttle mare it seems a miracle will be needed for her to get the mile and a half this afternoon yet her connections seem more confident about her chances than just about anyone else, though surely all of her rivals will know her potential weaknesses, and exploit them to the full with a fast early pace.

A daughter of Heart’s Cry, Lys Gracieux seems sure to not only stay this trip but improve for it and sits near the top of the betting for that very reason. She seemed to be running on well enough over the mile last time out when only beaten half a length by Reine Minoru and a neck ahead of Soul Stirring to suggest that if she can reproduce that effort over further she will be a very serious contender. She has hit the first three home in all her races so far so her last effort was clearly not out of character, and is closely matched with the selection in what is turning into a fascinating renewal. She will be ridden by local favourite Yutake Take which can only shorten her odds.

The bookmakers aren’t being too generous with their early prices and have Admire Miyabi nearly as short as the others near the head of the market but she is also a daughter of Heart’s Cry and thus expected to employ her added stamina here. She was out with the washing in the Oka Sho but trainer Yasuo Tomomichi reported after that race that “The mile is too short for her and the going was bad. She couldn’t get traction in a number of spots … and she also covered extra ground with an outside run.” She is currently unbeaten here at Tokyo after two starts which is another plus as is leading rider Micro Demuro and with everything falling in to place, a big run seems assured.

One more horse to mention and Deirdre looks an interesting alternative at a big price as a daughter of Harbinger who is another who may well be a lot better at this stamina sapping trip. Although ignored in the betting after only finishing sixth in the Oka Sho but only half a second or so behind the winner. She seemed to appreciate the added distance when running away with the Yaguruma Sho over a mile and a quarter and with the track looking ideal, she could be a bit of a dark horse at 50/1 or so today.

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