Japanese new wave set to make mark on 2022 yearling sales

6 min read
The spring of 2019 will be remembered as a breakthrough time for the influence of Japanese racehorses on Australian racetracks, and in the breeding barns that same year, another Japanese revolution was gathering pace. That move is now most evident in the catalogues for the 2022 yearling sales.

Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

In spring 2019 imported duo Mer De Glace (Rulership {Jpn}) and Lys Gracieux (Jpn) (Heart's Cry {Jpn}) posted dominant wins in two of the three Melbourne spring features, the G1 Caulfield Cup and G1 Cox Plate, while the locally trained Japanese-bred miler Fierce Impact (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}) won both the G1 Cantala S. and the G1 Toorak H.

There were also Group 3 wins from two other Australian-trained Japanese-bred horses in Hush Writer (Jpn) (Rulership {Jpn}) and Wolfe (Jpn) (Novellist {Jpn}), while a few months later, the Japanese bloodlines were to the fore in one of Australia's most revered 2-year-old races when Tagaloa, the Japanese-conceived son of Lord Kanaloa (Jpn), won the G1 Blue Diamond S.

Lys Gracieux (Jpn) (red cap) | Image courtesy of Bronwen Healy

The Japanese dominance of Australian racetracks in this period further confirmed their wildly established global eliteness, however since then, the COVID pandemic has made movement of horses and humans more difficult.

It's quite a remarkable coincidence that the previous predictions of Japanese dominance of Australian racing, which emerged after Delta Blues (Jpn) (Dance In The Dark {Jpn}) and Pop Rock (Jpn) (Helissio {Fr}) quinellaed the 2006 G1 Melbourne Cup, were halted by another biosecurity emergency, in this case, the equine influenza outbreak in 2007.

The breeding revolution

While Japanese horses were racking up the wins on the track in the spring of 2019, in the breeding barn, stallions from that part of the world were also making their mark in Australia.

Two of Australia's biggest studs debuted Japanese-bred stallions in 2019, with Real Steel (Jpn) joining his Shadai Stallion Station barnmates at Arrowfield and Saxon Warrior (Jpn) heading to Coolmore. Aquis stood dual Australian Group 1 winner Brave Smash (Jpn). Oaklands Stud in Queensland debuted Hong Kong Group 1 winner Neorealism (Jpn), while across the Tasman, Staphanos (Jpn) was making his bow at Novara Park.

Gallery: Some of the Japanese-bred stallions with progeny at the 2022 yearling sales

The first Australasian progeny of those stallions are powering what will likely be a record representation from Japanese-bred stallions at the 2022 yearling sales season.

The recent release of the Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale saw 38 yearlings included by eight individual Japanese-bred stallions, while the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale featured an even stronger representation of 40 horses, again from eight different sires.

Brave Smash1312
Saxon Warrior77
Real Steel72
Mikki Isle21
Tosen Stardom21
Satono Aladdin10

Table: Yearlings catalogued by Japanese-bred stallions so far in 2022

Of the first-season stallions, Brave Smash is by far the most represented, with 13 on the Gold Coast and 12 in Sydney, while Saxon Warrior has 14, seven in each catalogue.

Real Steel, who only had one season in Australia, has a combined nine with seven at Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale and two at the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale. Neorealism has one on the Gold Coast and Staphanos, who is likely to be well-represented at New Zealand Bloodstock's Karaka in March, one in Sydney.

Arrowfield's Maurice (Jpn), who recently had his son Hitotsu win the G1 Victoria Derby, has five of his third crop catalogued at Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale and 15 at the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale, while former barnmate Mikki Isle (Jpn), who had three Australian crops, has two yearlings on offer at the Gold Coast and one in Sydney.

There are currently three of Woodside Park resident Tosen Stardom's (Jpn) second crop slated to sell in 2022, two at Magic Millions and one at Classic, while there is one by Rich Hill Stud's Satono Aladdin (Jpn).

There is also a rare offering from Arrowfield at the Inglis Classic Sale of a filly by Epiphaneia (Jpn), Lot 483, who is out of a half-sister to Staphanos and from the family of Poet's Voice (GB).

She will be the first yearling by Epiphaneia to be offered at an Australian yearling sale in four years, and just the second ever.

Momentum builds

Going back to 2018, and it shows how much the Japanese stallion revolution in Australia has gathered pace that in that year, there were just eight yearlings by stallions bred in that country catalogued across the four major Australian yearling sales. All of them were by stallions which stood in Japan.

In 2019, with the first crop of Arrowfield trailblazer Real Impact (Jpn) well-represented, there were 59 yearlings by Japanese stallions catalogued across Magic Millions Gold Coast, and Inglis' Classic, Premier and Easter Sales.

In 2020, and off the back of that extraordinarily successful spring for Japanese-bred stallions on the track, that number exploded to 102, supercharged by the first crops of Maurice and Mikki Isle. That number included 42 at Magic Millions.


Table: Number of yearlings by Japanese-bred stallions catalogued at major Australian yearling sales *only two sales have been catalogued so far"

In 2021, the total number of yearlings by Japanese-bred stallions catalogued across those yearling sales dropped slightly to 86, but with a greater representation of stallions, with the progeny of Tosen Stardom added into the mix.

That diversity takes another step in 2022 with the progeny of five new Japanese-bred stallions now available. What is also significant is that all but one of the 10 stallions represented has stood, or is, currently standing in Australia or New Zealand.

Looking further forward, the 2023 yearling sales season will not feature the progeny of any new Australasian-based stallions with the JPN suffix as international travel restrictions impacted travel from Japan in particular.

Indeed, Arrowfield, the pioneer in this space, didn’t shuttle any stallion from Japan in 2020, meaning there will be no progeny from Maurice, who returned to popular acclaim this year.

However, that is just likely to be footnote in history when it comes to the influence of Japanese bloodlines. There were two new Japanese-bred stallions begin their Australian-breeding careers in 2021, Admire Mars (Jpn) at Arrowfield and Fierce Impact at Leneva Park in Victoria.

Then there is Tagaloa at Yulong, who as a racehorse arguably did more than any other as to the commercial value of Japanese bloodlines in this country, and will look to do that same from the breeding barn.

Japanese stallions
Brave Smash
Real Steel
Mikki Isle
Satono Aladdin
Saxon Warrior
Tosen Stardom