Royal Ascot is set to see a team of four Japanese-trained challengers line-up in 2015. The quartet are all owned by Hidetoshi Yamamoto and trained by Kazuo Fujisawa.
Heading the raiding party is Spielberg, who is entered in the Group One Prince Of Wales’s Stakes over 10 furlongs on day two, Wednesday, June 17. The six-year-old son of Deep Impact won the Group One Tenno Sho (Autumn) over 10 furlongs at Tokyo in November before going to take third in the country’s greatest race, the Group One Japan Cup at the end of the same month. He reappeared this year in a Group Two contest over 10 furlongs at Hanshin on April 5, running well to finish a close fourth.
The three other entries are Group Two scorer Lelouch (Queen Anne Stakes) plus Pelusa and Super Moon (both Hardwicke Stakes).
Nobutaka Tada, racing manager to Hidetoshi Yamamoto, commented today: “We will be sending four horses to Royal Ascot this year.
“Spielberg will be our main contender in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. Lelouch will go for the Queen Anne Stakes and we haven’t decided yet where we will go with Pelusa and Super Moon – we have entered both of them in the Hardwicke Stakes but will also look at options in the handicaps.
“We were happy with Spielberg’s reappearance earlier this month as the ground was very bad that day and he carried more weight than Kizuna and the winner Lachesis. He came from behind that day and finished very well. He has come out of the race in good form and we were very pleased as that was his first outing since the Japan Cup. The 10 furlongs at Royal Ascot should be fine for him.
“This will be the first time we have visited Royal Ascot. Royal Ascot is well known in Japan with the Queen in attendance and people love to watch it on television and on the internet.
“We are really looking forward to coming over. The horses are set to arrive in Newmarket on May 28 and will be travelling via Amsterdam.
“The horses will be stabled with Lady Cecil at Warren Place in Newmarket. I visited Warren Place last week and I was very, very impressed with the facilities. It is a dream place to be and also very historic with so many Royal Ascot winners coming from the yard over the years.
“While I was in the UK I also visited Ascot as well as Goodwood and Newmarket racecourses and met representatives from York and Leopardstown as I just wanted to check other options after the horses have run at Royal Ascot.
“I think the UK has some amazing racecourses – they are all different and I was made to feel very welcome.
“We haven’t decided on a jockey as yet. We will examine our options nearer the time and are in no rush to make a decision.”
Agnes World achieved the best finishing position achieved by a Japanese-trained runner at Royal Ascot when runner-up in the 2000 King’s Stand Stakes. The latest Japanese contender to line-up was Grand Prix Boss, who was eighth to Frankel in the 2011 St James’s Palace Stakes.
Nick Smith, Head of Communications and International Racing at Ascot, said: “It is great to have such a strong Japanese team coming over this year and a runner or two in the handicaps would be quite exciting.
“One And Only is confirmed for the King George in July, for Japan, following his third in the Dubai Sheema Classic last month which is further good news and we are very hopeful that Liberal will make history by being the first horse from Peru to run with us. He has the King George on the agenda having won the prestigious South American Championship – the Gran Premio Latinamericano – at Palermo, Argentina, in March.
“Australia’s Criterion lands in the UK today following his excellent third in Hong Kong, and the rest of the Australians – Wandjina (Gai Waterhouse), Brazen Beau (Chris Waller) and Shamal Wind (Robert Smerdon) arrive in early June, so these are exciting times.”
Group Two entries unveiled
Entries are revealed today for four of the Group Two contests at Royal Ascot.
There are 43 entries for the mile Duke of Cambridge Stakes on day two, Wednesday, June 17, including last year’s winner Integral (Sir Michael Stoute). Strong overseas representation includes eight entries from France including dual Classic winner Avenir Certain (Jean Claude Rouget) and one from Germany in Longina (Peter Schiergen).
Always one of the strongest Group Two races of the entire season, the Hardwicke Stakes is staged on the final day, Saturday, June 20. No other trainer can match Sir Michael Stoute’s record in the 12 furlong contest, with the Newmarket handler having taken the prize no less than eight times. He has five entries in 2015 including last year’s victor Telescope as well as the highly-progressive Arab Spring, successful on his seasonal return in Newbury’s Group Three John Porter Stakes. Dual Group Two winner Gospel Choir, Grade One Canadian International scorer Hillstar and last year’s St Leger second Snow Sky complete the Freemason Lodge contingent. Other leading contenders include Al Kazeem (Roger Charlton) and Free Eagle (Dermot Weld), second and third respectively in last season’s QIPCO Champion Stakes at Ascot.
The other two Group Two races with entries out today both take place over 12 furlongs for three-year-olds – the King Edward VII Stakes for colts on Friday, June 19 (68 entries) and the Ribblesdale Stakes for fillies on Thursday, June 18 (71 entries).