Jaguar Mail can do Japan proud
Jaguar Mail is an important horse on Sunday in terms of ongoing Japanese participation in the December showpiece meeting and a strong track gallop yesterday suggests he won't be letting down either the Jockey Club or his homeland.
Jaguar Mail will be contesting the Vase (2,400m) for the third successive year and the clean-winded stayer looks right on song after a smooth gallop on the turf.
The athletic six-year-old stallion moved off tentatively, as he tends to do, but his action smoothes out as he warms up and lengthens stride. When pilot Masanori Watanabe asked for the cardiovascular part to begin, Jaguar Mail returned him 1,000 metres in 1:06.5, the last 600 in 38.5 and the final 200 - not pushed out - in 12.35 seconds.
'He has been prepared well for the big race,' said Watanabe, his regular work rider. 'The only concern was how well he could recover from his last race [the Japan Cup], but he has coped with it and is in good form.'
In fact, Watanabe probably lapsed into gross understatement. After a close-up fourth in last year's Vase, Jaguar Mail bounced into 2010 with a tremendous second to Japan's best racehorse, the mare Buena Vista, in the Group Two Kyoto Kinen over 2,200m in February.
He then won their big 'two miler', the Tenno Sho (Spring), also at Kyoto, and significantly was ridden by Australian Craig Williams, who will handle him once more on Sunday. The Tenno Sho was a magnificent and high-rating triumph over 2009 titleholder Meiner Kitz, with a huge margin on firm ground of five lengths back to the third horse.
In neither of the past two seasons has Jaguar Mail been considered good enough to tackle the Japan Cup, but this year he was and he charged home late for a distinguished fourth, beaten just 21/2 lengths behind Buena Vista and Rose Kingdom in another high-quality affair.
In sharp contrast to some of her northern hemisphere counterparts, Australian sprinter Ortensia has a real summer bloom to her and matched those healthy good looks with real finishing speed in a 1,000m gallop. The filly went 1:05.1 for the full journey, putting on the gas for the last 600 in 36.5, the final 200 in 10.96.
Beethoven, last year's upset winner of Britain's premier juvenile event, the Dewhurst Stakes, sports a severe trace-clipped coat but is moving well enough. The Aidan O'Brien trainee slipped through his gears nicely on the turf course, clocking 1,200m in 1:20.6, his last 400 in 22.75 and his final 200 in 11.06. Beethoven's last win was in the Desmond Stakes at Leopardstown (Ireland) in August but he's coming off a career-low point, having beaten just one runner home when Goldikova retained her Breeders' Cup Mile trophy at Churchill Downs in Kentucky last month.