x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Moore: Don't overlook Japan at the Dubai World Cup

Buena Vista could be biggest money-winner; Transcend and Victoire Pisa are also entered.

Buena Vista has looked in good shape at Meydan this week in the build up to tomorrow's big race.
Buena Vista has looked in good shape at Meydan this week in the build up to tomorrow's big race.

DUBAI // Ryan Moore, the three-time British champion jockey, warned the racing world to underestimate Japanese runners at their peril as he prepares to ride Buena Vista, Japan's Horse of the Year, in tomorrow's Dubai World Cup.

Buena Vista is one of three Japanese raiders in the US$10 million (Dh36.7m) feature race at Meydan Racecourse. Victoire Pisa, who beat Buena Vista when the pair last met, and Transcend also make the trip.

Moore, the big-race jockey who won the English Oaks, Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe last year, said Europeans and Americans often underrate Japanese runners.

"I don't know why, but I think that Japanese horses are often underestimated," Moore said. "In Japan, Buena Vista is a big star and receives almost blanket coverage, but perhaps she slips under the radar a little elsewhere.

"Perhaps it's because not many go to Japan to see how well run it is there. They have been bringing stallions and mares over from Europe for the past 50 years, and they breed beautiful horses and get them very fit. I think people sometimes forget the kind of quality that the Japanese have out there."

In Buena Vista, Moore has landed a ride on a six-time Grade 1 winning mare who, if she were to win the World Cup, would become the thoroughbred that has won the most prize money in history.

Her multiple Group 1 victories in Japan have won her more than $12m to date and the World Cup's purse to the winning horse would bring her total to $18m, topping the $16m won by TM Opera O, the current record holder.

"She has great form and if she performs as she has in the past then you would have to think that she would have legitimate claims on the race," Moore said. "I've ridden in races that she has won so I am well aware of her quality."

The surface, her wide draw in stall 13 and her lack of a prep race may all be question marks, but Hiroyoshi Matsuda, her trainer, was confident yesterday.

"The draw will not be a problem for her because of the way she runs," he said. "She comes from off the pace. She is very relaxed here and she seems to like the track. We are expecting a good run from her."

As well as his ride on Buena Vista, Moore also renews his long-running acquaintance with the quirky galloper Presvis, the joint favourite in the $5m Group 1 Dubai Duty Free.

Luca Cumani's horse, runner-up in the 2009 Duty Free to Gladiatorus and winner of the Hong Kong Group 1 Audemars Piguet QEII Cup in his next outing, has a mind of his own.

Though he is often outstanding, he has also been inexplicably disappointing - more so in recent times. He finished 11th of 16 in the Duty Free in 2010 and managed only third behind his Duty Free joint-favourite Wigmore Hall in his final prep run this month.

On the gallops yesterday morning the undoubtedly talented runner was obviously having an off day, slaloming down the home stretch like a downhill skier.

Cumani trains Presvis from finish post to starting post in a reversal of the normal method of working horses on the track in an attempt to get the best out of him. "He does what he wants whenever he wants and is completely unpredictable," Cumani, who more often than not discovers the key to the horse, said.

Moore, who has had more luck than most jockeys on the horse, having been in the irons for all bar one of his seven wins from 20 starts, said that if the good Presvis turned up tomorrow, he would be confident of his chances.

"He was very impressive when he won the Al Rashidiya [by four lengths] his first race in Dubai this season, but I was disappointed that he then got beat in the Jebel Hatta," the jockey said. "If he runs to the best of his ability then he will be hard to beat."

What the rider left unsaid was that if Presvis decides he is not in the mood to race then it could be a very different story.