Size's stars in good shape, but Vodka packs a 'scary' punch
Trainer John Size has issued pass marks for Hong Kong's two Yasuda Kinen runners this Sunday but told the media that star Japanese mare Vodka is a 'very scary' proposition in the Group One mile in Tokyo.
The Size pair went out together on the Fuchu racecourse dirt track the past two days, without being asked to do serious work, but Size is happy enough.
The trainer has partnered Sight Winner both days, with work rider Yik Lau-yin aboard Armada, distant runner-up to Vodka in the race 12 months ago.
'I haven't looked into the field closely, but Vodka was too brilliant for us last time, a different class. If she turns up in that form, she is a very scary horse and we are all racing for minor prizes,' he conceded.
Size was satisfied with the condition of his horses, who have adjusted well to the new environment.
'I think the lack of humidity here at this time of year, compared to Hong Kong, helps them,' he said.
'Armada's form was better last year on paper, but he does pick up in Japan and I think he enjoyed racing left handed last year. He lost a little weight on the trip but is back to 500kg and will put some more back on between now and Sunday.
'He will be lighter than the 512kg he was for last year's race, but he is older, and he is eating and drinking well.'
Sight Winner had been a bit keen on Wednesday on his first look at Fuchu but was more relaxed yesterday.
'He's younger and less experienced and gets a little restless, but once he's seen and done something, he is OK the second time,' Size said.
'He's had a long campaign and his last run was the best race of his life. Probably it's difficult to repeat that, but he's consistent and I'm hoping if the track is not too fast, he'll put himself in the race with a chance.'
Size will be aboard both horses this morning on the track, when he said they would be separated and do 'something fast'.
Over at the Ritto training centre, likely favourite Vodka worked brilliantly on the woodchip surface yesterday.
Jockey Yutaka Take sat back off two Katsuhiko Sumii-trained stablemates before overpowering them to win the gallop by five lengths, running fast time for the final stages. Take was thrilled, describing the gallop as 'a speed violation'.
Reports were also good from Ritto about the other high-profile Japanese runner, 2008 Derby winner Deep Sky.
Race jockey Hirofumi Shii gave him an 800m uphill gallop, sending the colt along with the whip in the final 200m.
'That was solid work for a horse that is usually quite lazy in the mornings,' he said.
The final field of 18 was published yesterday and barriers will be drawn this morning.