Glorious Days fresher this time for Yasuda Kinen
Trainer John Size is hoping a different lead-up will do the trick after flops in past attempts
The day when John Size turns up for the HK$15.7 million Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo without a Japanese superstar in his way has not yet arrived, but he is hoping a changed lead-up might see a different Glorious Days on Sunday.
After indifferent efforts for 14th and 11th in two previous attempts at the race, Glorious Days returns a fresher horse this time but with the world's number one-ranked racehorse, Dubai Duty Free marauder Just A Way, heading a deep Japanese team.
"I've lost count of how many times I've come here and I've run into horses like Vodka and Lord Kanaloa - special horses - and Just A Way looks a similar obstacle," Size told a media conference on Thursday after Glorious Days strolled around the Fuchu all-weather course.
"It's a race I'd dearly love to win one day. It's a good race for our horses to come to - out of the heat to a kinder environment, they adapt well and do well in the stable. But in saying that, Glorious Days has raced twice in the Yasuda Kinen, he hasn't performed either time and that has been out of character for him."
The six-year-old's work rider eased the gelding sleepily around the dirt, with snail-paced times for his 800m leg stretch in 58.8 seconds, 600m in 40.6 seconds and final 200m in 13 seconds.
Size said a casual workout was typical of Glorious Days' training at home for most of his career and two fast gallops at the Shiroi Riding School quarantine centre, before moving to the racecourse on Monday, had been solid but in line with prior practice.
"I haven't changed anything. His health and condition are very good and I'm just happy this morning to see him do things the way he normally does them and nothing is different," Size said.
"He had the two pieces of strong work in the quarantine station, the strongest on Monday, and he pulled up well, his breathing was good and he settled down quickly after it. It's his third time here, so he was quite comfortable moving to the racecourse environment - he knew where he was."
So nothing has changed, which should theoretically mean another sound defeat, and with a fast work morning on at the Ritto and Miho training centres, the local media people were thin on the ground for a horse they have seen twice and dismissed.
The number Size was searching for was six. That's the number of horses he has brought to one of Japan's only two open Group One mile races, the only overseas race in which Size has displayed much interest, and the best he has done to date was with his first runner, finishing second with Armada six years ago.
If all conditions remain the same, then the same result looks likely. Except one thing has actually changed - Glorious Days was having the eighth and seventh races of his season, respectively, when he visited in 2012 and last year and one local commentator asked Size about the horse arriving 20 pounds heavier this year.
"I think you can put that down to having had less racing," the trainer responded. "It's his fourth run of the season and we're hoping that will make some difference. In Hong Kong, we've found he's a good horse with his races spaced, so being fresher might help him perform better."