Racing News  

Size hopes Contentment can be his lucky eighth


John Size has tried harder than most in recent times to prise Japan’s premier summer mile contest, the G1 Yasuda Kinen, from the home contingent’s vice-tight grip. Armada’s runner-up effort back in 2008 remains the trainer’s standout return and this time he relies on Contentment – slated to become his eighth runner – as he shoots for that coveted first win on Sunday (5 June).

Hong Kong’s seven-time champion trainer has had this race in mind for Contentment since the Hussonet gelding closed out last season with a pair of mile wins at Sha Tin in Class 2 and Class 1.

“We decided about a year ago to come here and that was our aim from the beginning of the season as long as he had the rating and the qualification to come,” Size revealed. “He is a Group 1 international winner now so therefore he’s qualified and I think he deserves a shot at the race.”

Size sees some similarities between Armada, three and a half lengths behind the mighty mare Vodka in 2008, and Contentment, who faces Japan’s current Horse of the Year, Maurice.

“I couldn’t get a good guide on Armada because it was my first trip here. He drew very wide and had to show a lot of speed to get across,” said Size, who is now a regular at this fixture having lined up runners in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

“In this particular race, given that they’re similar horses – Armada and Contentment – Contentment will probably get a better run. But opposed to that, we’ve got two horses that are Vodka’s equivalent in Maurice and Real Steel. So we’ve got two standouts to beat instead of one!”

Contentment earned his G1 stripes back in February with an impressive breakthrough win in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m). He ran right up to that form last time when second in the G1 Champions Mile, but the horse ahead of him, two lengths to the fore and easing, was the re-opposing Maurice.

“I wouldn’t think he could have done any better than he did on that particular day,” Size opined. “He had every chance to run a very good race and Maurice was too good for him on that particular occasion. Maurice is a higher-rated horse and so is Real Steel but we have to take our chances that on a given day we can go a little bit better.

“On paper, 1400 metres is Contentment’s best distance but he has won at 1800 metres and 1600, so it depends on the circumstances of the day and the competition and the running of the race, but because most of these elite races are run at 1600 not 1400, he has to be in them.”

There have been 34 Hong Kong assaults on the Yasuda Kinen since 1994 when Neville Begg broke new ground in saddling up Winning Partners to finish 14th of 16. Of those contenders Fairy King Prawn (2000) and Bullish Luck (2006) have triumphed for Hong Kong, but since the latter of those, Japan’s milers have reigned unbowed.

“Japanese horses are so strong that we don’t expect to come here and beat them but we do like to try – and support the international racing and the international circuit,” said Size.

As for Contentment’s wellbeing, the five-year-old once again appeared to be relaxed and primed for Sunday during exercise this morning. The chestnut stuck to his usual routine, trotting a few laps in the ring before setting out on a couple of circuits of the dirt track at a steady canter.

“He’s gathering his energy before the race and everything is normal,” said Size.

Maurice, stabled at Tokyo due to quarantine regulations since his return from Hong Kong last month, went through interval training this morning under the watch of trainer Noriyuki Hori’s assistant Masanori Watanabe.

Beneath warm sunshine, the defending champion, aiming for an eighth consecutive win, started out with one lap of the trotting ring counterclockwise and turned around for one lap clockwise. The Screen Hero five-year-old then entered the dirt track and was a touch keen to get on with things.

After a furlong or so with his rider directing his head over the inside rail, Maurice relaxed into a slow trot and broke into a steady, loping canter just before the turn out of the home stretch, which he maintained until slowing to a walk at the 800m pole.

The entire was then wound up to a canter from the 550m point and maintained that gait until the 800m pole once again. That marked the end of his work and the champion exited the track in a neck-lather and seemingly in good heart.

A field of 12 will go to post for the 2016 Yasuda Kinen, with Logotype, Satono Aladdin and Isla Bonita also in the top-class line-up.

Contentment canters on the dirt track at Tokyo Racecourse this morning.
Photo 1:
Contentment canters on the dirt track at Tokyo Racecourse this morning.


Related Website�G

Yasuda Kinen


Copyright © 2000-2024 The Hong Kong Jockey Club. All rights reserved.